Everything Newbies Should Know BEFORE Seeking Out a Real Estate Mentor

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You know the question on the Forums, the one about mentors?

I mean this in the nicest way, but every time I see a request for a mentor on the Forums, a rush of emotions comes across me. It makes me want to:

  • Laugh
  • Cry
  • Yell
  • Smile
  • Get discouraged
  • Think to myself, “You idiot.”

… all internally, of course.

I am a huge believer in paying it forward and that we all start somewhere. I would never humiliate anyone because I was there. We’ve all been there, at the beginning. Asking the stupid question — because there is no stupid question, right?

Therefore, I am writing this article to all those newbies. This article is for you! We, those with a few more “life experiences” under our belts, don’t always explain all of these points, but trust me, we are here to help you! This is the nicest “slap” across the head one can provide — think Jethro on NCIS!

The question about attracting mentors gets asked often, so it is not answered in as much detail anymore. Those who have answered in the past get tired of re-answering the same questions over and over. So think of this as the in-depth answer that I want to give to all those who have asked this question, but haven’t gotten a comprehensive response.

Related: Newbies: Here’s What You Have to Offer to a Potential Real Estate Mentor

Please note that this is to be taken as constructive feedback. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t have spent hours writing it. So let’s get started. Here’s why I react in the above-mentioned ways to the “mentor question” posed by newbies.

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Why it Makes Me Want to Laugh

BiggerPockets is the best mentor out there. You have come to a site FULL of people who are providing their time and energy to give back! This is the BEST mentor one could ever get. Many members’ entire goal is to network, pay it forward and learn more. There is no “cheating” on this mentor because you are not stuck with one person. You have thousands of people giving back for free. There are multiple opinions on the same areas. Mostly everyone on the site, including myself writing this article, is doing it for FREE!

So why are asking for a mentor? You have literally more resources than you could EVER use right here!

Takeaway

Create a plan on WHY you need a mentor. What do you need from them that the free online places such as BP can’t provide?

Why it Makes Me Want to Cry

I am a business woman. I believe in taking care of others, but remember — this is also a business! Why should a mentor help you outside of BP? What value do you have to give back for them basically training a competitor? In the business world, a company gets a service for training and paying you. Even an unpaid internship is providing value by completing work. Remember, the people you want to help you are super successful. That means they are going to making the big bucks, and that usually takes hard work and long hours. Time is money.

Takeaway

What are you going to do for this mentor? Why should they train you? What difference are you going to make so that your time is their money?

Why it Makes Me Want to Yell

Remember your manners and who you are asking. You are a newbie! You are asking for help. So don’t be cocky, obnoxious, and all-consuming. Commanding anyone to help or teach you is not going to help! Yes, you might be clueless, flustered and need a place to start. Remember that being humble is worth a ton.

Think of it this way: Would you go to the CEO of a company and TELL him to help you? You have no idea what these people do! You may notice over time that the quietest people provide the best information. Those who are successful will not go toe to toe with you traditionally. They will back off and let you fall.

The reason I say “yell” is because I have met some amazing people all because we bonded over the newbies who push so hard, they alienate all kinds of potential allies.

Takeaway

Treat everyone you are asking for help from as the you would the President of a prestigious company! I am not saying “kiss up.” I am saying treat them with respect, and think about what they are saying. I am not suggesting to follow that advice blindly, but to listen to those who challenge your thinking and comfort zone. You are here to learn, and that starts with questioning and evaluating everyone’s comments. While I usually dismiss the majority, listening to the minority, valuable advice has been the one of the most significant, impactful things to my business.

Why it Makes Me Want to Smile

I am still happy that people are asking. If you don’t start somewhere, you will never go anywhere. I am happy for the “point” of the question. I love that fact that people gather up the courage to speak out and ask questions. The internet can be a hard medium through which to make connections because one doesn’t have the traditional face-to-face or voice-to-voice interaction, as in person or on the phone.

Takeaway

Take the plunge and ask for help. You might make me go through all these emotions, but participate! That is why we are here. While we might get mad at what you are saying, we are still happy you are here. So take the criticism as constructive and keep going. Before you know it, you will be on the Podcast, posting in the Success Stories Forum and writing on the Member Blogs!

Why it Discourages Me

The Forums are dynamic and amazing. You have new people coming on and depending on the knowledge of the regulars. I see the same questions over and over. That being said, they aren’t always answered to the same degree every time. You see, people try to link the posts and then have similar posts at the bottom of the forum thread. That being said, there are still some great articles that people tend to miss out on.

Takeaway

Read the responses to your post, but also use the “search” button to find past conversations on the blog and in the Forums. Make sure you look for other sources on this subject as well.

Why it Makes Me Say, “You Idiot.”

You know what is the worst? When people do take the time to answer newbies, and then the newbie picks a fights with them! The crazy thing to me is when people chew out those who are trying to “help” them.

Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Finding a Real Estate Mentor

Takeaway

Don’t be an idiot. Keep an open mind. No one is MAKING you do anything. These people are just trying to help. If you don’t want to keep an open mind and be helped, then don’t post. Trust me, my life philosophy has been “shattered” more than I would like to acknowledge.

Conclusion

So now do you get picture that asking for a mentor is just the beginning — not the end? Don’t be lazy and take the easy way out — because you will only fail. Being successful is hard work, and you have to use people as tools; no one holds “the secret” to success. Bill Gates, while he gives back and empowers through his foundation, doesn’t take people under his wings to “give them all the secrets” or to simply dole out wealth.

What are your feelings about the mentor question? What words of advice would you give to newbies?

Leave a comment below, and let’s talk!

About Author

Elizabeth Colegrove

Elizabeth Colegrove is a passionate "buy and hold" investor who specializes in turning her once-negative transient lifestyle (Military) into a positive lifestyle. She self manages her entire real estate portfolio from long distance while holding down a full time job. When she isn't finding new real estate deals, she enjoys traveling, hanging out with her awesome boat-building husband, playing with her mischievous kitty, or writing on her newest project, her blog.

14 Comments

  1. Melanie Smith

    Great post! I am reminded of Sheryl Sandberg’s thoughts on this from her book Lean In. The short is to get out there and do – and you’ll attract mentors as you go. And remember that mentors come from everywhere – I’m finding so many people I know who are REIs and I had no clue! And they’ve all been super helpful.

  2. Brian Gibbons

    Hi Elizabeth:

    Here is a post for newbies:

    What is the difference between a REI Mentor and a REI Coach?

    I coach REIs and I do not do it for free, I charge money per hour. I mentor too and I generally do that for free.

    Hmmmm, what is the difference?

    My colleague here in BP is one of the BEST, if not THE best in Wholesaling-Flipping-Pricing Rehabs, and wrote a book on the subject (See BP Store) . His BP handle is @JScott.

    He said in a recent post on BP that a coach is paid and a mentor is not. I agree with him.

    A Mentor is like Big Sisters. Or going to SCORE for business advice (SCORE is a non profit advisor from SBA).
    1 or 2 hours a week for free.

    A Coach is someone to help you with skills.

    Marketing and Negotiating with Home Sellers (Pretty Houses and Ugly Houses)
    Finding the Right RE Attorney and Title Company.
    Finding a RMLO for seller financing buyers and being Dodd Frank compliant.
    Marketing and Negotiating with Cash Buyers (Wholesaling)
    Marketing and Negotiating with Tenant Buyers (Lease Options)
    Marketing and Negotiating with Owner Financing Buyers (wraps, land contracts)
    Marketing and Negotiating with JV Partners (Doctors, Business People)
    Marketing and Negotiating with Private IRA Lenders to fund your purchases
    Understanding the benefits and pitfalls of Creative Finance (sub2, land contracts, lease options, wraps, master leases, etc).
    How to avoid “shiny object syndrome” and make good profitable deals. The first time.
    Etc Etc Etc.

    BiggerPockets is a sea of information and differing opinions.

    If you need a coach, get a good one.
    If you need a mentor, I recommend a Real Estate Broker with 40+ years, semi retired, who likes to teach and help.

    Thanks for the article, Elizabeth. Hope my response helps discern the difference between “coach vs mentor”.

  3. Charles Worth

    Good post. The only thing I somewhat wanted to add was I think some of the best content on here comes from the people who pick a fight on certain things. Now generally I have seen it more from people who have been on here a while and just hold beliefs that others consider mistaken but I still think it has generated great content even when (at least I thought) the fight was picked on something some would see as stupid. The reason is that it made someone who otherwise gave blanket advice get a lot more detailed and that is the best learning experience of all from people like J Scott.

  4. Damond Stewart

    You mean this isn’t REI Heaven online? What? People actually fight on here too? Wow I’m going to have to get my money back – oh wait this is free until I turn pro! LOL!

    Anyway, great read and follow up comments. I especially like Brian’s clarification of a mentor and a coach. I must admit it gets a little discouraging on the newbie side too when everything you read encourages you to join local REI clubs/associations and almost everyone you meet at these meetings is a “mentor” (really coach) and has a 10 step program to sell you. Honestly at one point I was thinking to myself this must be a common path for investors. Find your niche, wholesale, flip, rehab, and hold, create a system for each one, then move to selling books, wealth kits, seminars, and hosting vip events in expensive suits. Hey I’m not trying to knock the hustle but it can be a little overwhelming at times for us newbies.

    Thank you Bigger Pockets peeps who take the time to simply share and help just like Elizabeth. On this path and with all the content here, I’m confident I’ll find my niche, wholesale, flip, rehab and hold and instead of selling books, wealth kits, seminars, and hosting vip events in my shiny suit… I’ll troll on here and help as many people as I can for free just like you all have helped me!

    One caveat: Finding a coach is easy but finding a mentor, a real mentor, is truly a blessing. #salute

  5. Wally Smythe

    I mentor because I thoroughly like to provide and receive knowledge to and from others that have the same passions I do. I never charge nor pay in cash BUT I have made money for others and myself in doing so. I love what I do every moment….

  6. Israel Herrera

    I feel the same way. Very overwhelmed. I too am a newbie and I am finding it very hard to get my first deal to flip. This is mainly due to lack of funding. I have watch HUNDREDS of webinars and podcast. I have attended TENS of GURU seminars and workshops. All of these workshops with gurus ranging from Than Merill, David Lindahl, Armando Montalango, Scott Yancey, Kent Clothier and many many vmany more. I have spent thousands of dollars trying to get started and implement tools into my business in order to established a constant stream of profits. But it just seems like all these guys just sell the same things. It’s quite the challenge. I just listened to the podcast with Grant Cardone…. WOW!.

  7. Great topic Elizabeth!

    It’s definitely a controversial issue. Some advocate mentorship while others do not. At the end of the day, it’s about progress including the individual’s learning style and comfort level. We all learn differently.

    Sure, there are resources out there online. On the flip side, there are those who have the experience to teach those looking for help. Being online gives us options but it’s not always the be-all and end-all.

    While I do enjoy browsing the web and hearing stories from others, I also enjoy reading books from experts on subjects that peak my interest. Apart from reading, meeting and talking with folks who are doing what you want to do is a priceless experience.

    I enjoyed the post. Good topic for discussion!

  8. Johnathon Griggs

    Good, down to earth stuff! Particularly the suggestion to “search”. So many articles and posts have already been written about most subjects already. If a person simply spends a little time reading up on a subject rather than just being lazy and trying to get people to come to them… wow.

  9. Daniel Ryu

    As someone who’s received a ton of help from people on BP, I try to make it a point to help out others whenever I can. I find that a clear, well-thought out email or post that contains a lot of details can take up to 30 minutes if not longer to write. So I have so much gratitude for the people who write long answers to my posts or who respond to my questions through the inbox. I know how valuable an experienced real estate investor’s time can be.

    Even in my limited experiences of being able to help out others, I’m surprised at some of the responses (or non responses) that I get, so I can imagine how an experienced real estate investor must feel, having gone through this process many more times over.

    Still any time I get discouraged with networking, all I have to do look in my BP inbox – it took 16 Colleague requests and about two months before I finally connected with two BP-ers who I ended up partnering with and getting my first deal with! I’d say that’s not so bad considering I’m investing in US properties while living in Korea ^^

    So, it’s definitely worth the effort to keep reaching out and letting people know what you’re doing.

    And like you say, the BP-community is definitely the best “Mentor” out there.

  10. Melanie rodriguez

    Thank you Elizabeth,
    Ok..let me see if I got this correct
    1) A mentor is a good thing. We have the highway of info right here on BP with many such mentors FOR FREE
    2) Remember who I am, the one asking for help. No one is trying to make me do anything I don’t want to
    3) Ears open, ask questions,stay open to suggestions, and maintain a level of gratitude
    4) the time and education being given to us is a gift, not a debt owed us
    Loved your blog
    Melanie

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