My earliest memory of rehabbing a house was at the ripe age of four years old. Being too young to do heavy lifting, I dutifully walked around the family room of my father’s latest junker, sucking up cockroaches one at a time into a vacuum for hours. Thousands were creeping up the wall as the carpet was being pulled up to be replaced.
Later in life, my friends and I would trash out homes, do minor painting, and serve as the occasional day laborers to earn extra money for summer camp and trips to Disneyland. Beyond that, my father never pushed the real estate biz on us kids.
Up until a decade ago, if you asked me if I would be in real estate, I would have rolled my eyes and shaken my head. I moved to New York City at 19 to pursue the Great White Way and spent my 20s traveling the globe getting paid to perform. When my father occasionally nudged me to read one of his mentors’ books (Jim Rohn, Andrew Carnegie, James Collins, and Og Mandino), I politely accepted a copy with a knowing smile, but never intended to take the dive.
A family illness snapped me back to California in 2004. The lure of Broadway just didn’t seem to matter when family was in need. In addition, injuries and inconsistent “gigs” grew tiresome. While in New York, I was fortunate to fall into a night job on Wall Street doing acquisition and merger presentations (and I secretly like it). I learned a ton about branding, marketing, and PR and started doing jobs on the side.
These skills would prove invaluable while I attempted to reinvent myself. I spent six months in the design and construction industry before I got an offer from another Wall Street firm. One week before I was to take the job officially, Dad offered me a marketing position at The Norris Group, a company he founded in 1997.
I was a little surprised at how quickly I said yes. I’ve always had a bit of a complex. You see, Dad has this incredible story. With two kids by 18 years old, on food stamps, having been fired multiple times and with only a high school education, he managed to make millions in the business of real estate investing. How was I ever to top that?!
I share all this because fear really got the best of me for many years. I didn’t mind being on stage in front of thousands of people, but walking in the shadows of a well-respected father and the idea of failing so publicly had me on perpetual pause.
Here are three things that helped me turn the corner and hopefully helps someone else in a similar situation.
How I Bought, Rehabbed, Rented, Refinanced, and Repeated for 14 Rental Properties
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The Garage Sale of Life
Five years ago I was working 50 hours per week at the company, volunteering numerous hours at nonprofits, and was trying to balance that all with a non-existent personal life. I had convinced myself that real estate wasn’t in the cards because I simply didn’t have time. Or was this excuse just a copout?
Mike Cantu has a great term for something I now do several times per year because I have a difficult time saying no. He calls it the “Garage Sale of Life.” The concept is to remove the people from your life who waste time and create negativity, simplify things (that tie up funds, time and energy) and minimizing life activities that aren’t moving you forward.
Extra time is like an extra room in your house. Better fill it up fast before the universe fills it for you!
Goal writing was instrumental in getting over the hump. I had never sat down to write long-term goals before my late-night impulse buy of Personal Power by Tony Robbins. The structured goal writing session focused on short and long-term goals, and more importantly, got me thinking about why I wasn’t already getting goals checked off my list. Getting goals on paper is somehow cathartic and magical. It really put life on fast forward for me.
Aim, Fire, Ready!
Around this same time, I attended a John Schaub seminar where he mentioned the 10-house plan. Buy one house a year, and pay them off. I have no idea why this simple plan impacted me the way that it did. I think I expected myself to manage the life of a full-time flipper while doing everything else I had already committed to in life. For the first time, real estate wasn’t just a lofty goal; I knew it was something I could do.
I tweaked my goals a smidge and chatted with some of the people in my network to let them know I was in the market for toilets and tenants. Ready or not, deals started finding me. My goal was to buy at least one house per year — and so far I’ve accomplished that and more.
Put down the selfie stick, not that kind of modeling.
Tony Robbins talks about looking to those that have come before to reverse engineer their success and discover a potential roadmap of our own. I put far too much pressure on myself simply because of the high level of talent in my family and those I see in our hard money loan business daily.
Inspiration and mentoring can come from a host of places. I’ve found mentors from our immediate network (including on BiggerPockets), educational events, and serving on nonprofit association boards.
I believe finding people who inspire and motivate is critical. It helps drive my “why” behind wanting success, in real estate and otherwise. Why do you want to succeed in real estate, and what would it mean for your family if you succeeded?
Just Do it
Life goes quickly. We’re never promised tomorrow. If you really want something, you damn well better make enough space in life to will it to happen. Make some space, create a plan, and pull the trigger.
Ready or not, find a way to get inspired and make your goals happen.
When did you turn the corner and realize real estate investing was the path you wanted to take?
Leave your stories and comments below!