Advice From a Boomer: 5 Timeless Lessons Every Millennial Investor Should Read

by | BiggerPockets.com

I never imagined I’d have to learn a new language just to talk to my kids and my younger colleagues.

I already knew what ASAP meant. And I’ve finally figured out the meaning of certain terms like “IMHO” and “FOMO.” (And after trailing a pickup with a customized plate, I even figured out the meaning of “L8” on my own the other day.)

But who would have guessed that MCM means “man candy Monday”? And WCW translates to “woman crush Wednesday”? What the heck do those even mean? And why do people abbreviate these things?

“Kids today…”

“When I was a boy, I had to walk three miles to school in waist deep snow. Uphill both ways.”

Oh wait, that was my grandfather’s line.

Well, anyway, life is getting confusing for those of us over 50.

But when I look around at those half my age, I wonder if many of them are confused about some business and life basics that were taken for granted in decades past. My goal here is to share a few life lessons that have been critical to my success. I’m hoping they’ll help you on your journey as well.

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5 Lessons From a Baby Boomer Every Millennial Investor Should Read

Lesson #1: You’re already in training for your ultimate assignment. So be a man or woman of integrity today.

Whatever you are doing right now, whatever you’ve been doing and will do until the day you reach your destiny, is training you for your success.

The small disciplines you’re forming in your life—the podcasts you’re listening to, the books you’re reading, the way you’re serving your employer, and the friends you’re keeping—are training you for success or failure.

I’m encouraging you to live a life of integrity at work, at home, and in every relationship you have. Integrity means your internal life matches your external life. It means you act the same at home and in public.

Quantum physics and its related applications are teaching us that people know much more about us then we present, and who we are in private comes through more than we think.

I heard Rabbi Daniel Lapin speak recently. He’s a brilliant businessman and teacher. He talked about the perils of profanity. He teaches that swearing is bad for business. A young sales professional came up to him, sneering, and said, “Ha! I’m not stupid enough to drop the F bomb in front of my clients! I just do that on my own time.”

Lapin said, “Ha! The joke’s on you. Our hearers’ brains do billions of calculations per second. If you typically drop F bombs left and right, you can be sure that there will be imperceptibly tiny pauses in your phraseology.”

Related: 10 Seemingly Harmless Habits That Sabotage Ambitious Millennials

While the conscious brain thinks nothing of it, the subconscious brain reads these pauses as insincerity. Listeners in studies judge these people as untrustworthy. Like they’re hiding something.

Integrity means that who you are when you’re alone is who you really are.

Lesson #2: Grow a network of people you serve and care about.

You need a growing list of people who will return your call. You need a metric, so make a list. And don’t list those who won’t take your call or won’t call back. There is a tight correlation between the number of folks on this list and how much money you make.

Write this list down today, and plan to add one person per week to this list (about four or five per month). That is about 50 new people per year who know and like you. We must truly like people and connect with and serve them to get there.

We do this with our body’s most useful money-making organ: our mouth. This is where you express yourself. You must speak to people.

Don’t think you can build the best website and communicate only through email and social media. You need a personal touch. For most real estate businesses, it’s not OK to only work 100 percent online. (Sure, I know there are exceptions.)

Personal is the way we were created to function. We were designed to interact and communicate with people.

When I look around a restaurant or coffee shop and see half the folks on their phones, not even communicating, it makes me sad. And I’m sad to think of the times I’ve done that to my own dear wife. But there’s a communication killer that’s even more deadly than smartphones. It’s a box that sits in the corner of most of our homes and even many restaurants and bars we frequent.

The greatest non-communicator is the television. TV trains us not to communicate. And it trains us to serve ourselves, which is not a service to others or to humanity.

Andrew Syrios wrote a great post last month on why we should unplug our TVs permanently. I agree wholeheartedly. My family got rid of ours well over a decade ago, and our kids didn’t grow up too abnormal. (But they do like semi-boneless ham, oddly enough.)

Lesson #3: You’re gonna have to serve somebody.

“It may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” —Bob Dylan

Consider yourself a servant. Whoever is faithful with little will be given much more. Whoever is unfaithful with little may have even that taken from him.

Consider who you are serving, and serve them with all your heart.

Even if you’re still in a J.O.B. now—working for the man and dreaming of being a passive income mogul—whatever you do, start thinking of yourself as a service provider to your employer and all of these “customers.”

If you are a Starbucks employee, you have one major customer: Starbucks. You need to diligently serve them and give them your knowledge and enthusiasm and efforts. Doing the “small” things today will lead to big things tomorrow.

And you have no idea who’s watching. Not only your managers who will be giving you job references. But a host of others.

I was once deeply impressed with the service provided by a college-aged hotel clerk. He stood out among his peers. When I was looking for someone to fill a new position, I went back there and sought him out.

Life has funny ways of working that way. You’ll be amazed when it happens to you. And it will.

Lesson #4: After getting to know more people, learn to communicate effectively with them.

How do you learn to communicate more effectively? It takes about 10 weeks and it’s simple. It’s so simple that you may not believe it will work. Here it is.

Read aloud from a great book three times weekly for 30 minutes.

Choose a great book that sounds like you want to sound—say, Winston Churchill speeches. Shut off the TV. In 10 weeks, you will be talking differently.

This is similar to how I learned to be a persuasive writer. I found many examples of well-written marketing materials (those long letters we hate to get in the mail), and I hand copied them over and over and over for months.

I filled up notebooks with them. Why did I do this? It was not because I thought it up. I did because my writing mentor told me to.

Before long, I realized I could write like they did. And I made $53,000 from the first letter I wrote as a marketing copywriter.



Related: Is the “Graduate, Find a Job, Get Married, Have Kids” Sequence Still Relevant for Millennials?

Lesson #5: Learn to be an authentic storyteller. Admit when you were wrong and talk about it.

If you want to build a business, get investors, and generally persuade people, you’ll need to learn to be a good storyteller. An authentic storyteller.

We think that people need detailed numbers and statistics to make a decision to invest with us, but their brains generally zone out when they hear this stuff.

Numbers tell. Stories sell.

We are all aware of our own failures, and alarm bells go off when we hear someone who only trumpets their successes. Someone who admits their mistakes is far more credible.

I’ve had a few people turn down guest interviews for our podcast. They fear how others will see them if they admit defeat and failures.

But we’ve had an overwhelmingly great response to the show. And I’ve had a wonderful response when I talk to investors and tell them my failure stories. It’s part of who we are, and it’s common to all humans.

For some people it’s a deeper issue. Their issue is not just about telling about their mistakes. Their issue is refusing to admit they were wrong in the first place.

And if you don’t admit you’re wrong when needed, you’ll repeat the same mistake over and over.

Saving face is dumb.

The more I own something as my fault, the more power I have to fix it. If I’m most of the problem, that’s great news because it means I have the power to provide the cure.

Great business people admit when they’re wrong, and they let go of things they realize won’t work. And they blame themselves, not others.

So whatever you’re doing now—whether you’re still in college or still in a nine-to-five, whether you’re doing your first flip or already succeeding wildly—I hope these thoughts are helpful in your journey.

I’d love to hear your reactions, and if you disagree, that’s great. I’ve been wrong before. Like the time I told someone I was mistaken but I really wasn’t. JK. LOL.

Weigh in with a comment!

About Author

Paul Moore

Paul is author of The Perfect Investment – Create Enduring Wealth from the Historic Shift to Multifamily Housing, which you should probably get if you want to learn to invest in multifamily. He is Managing Director at Wellings Capital, a multifamily and self-storage investment firm, and hosts the How to Lose Money podcast. Paul was 2-time Finalist for MI Entrepreneur of the Year, has flipped 60 homes and 30 waterfront lots, developed a subdivision, and appeared on HGTV. Paul’s firm invests heavily to fight human trafficking and rescue its victims.

41 Comments

  1. Ali Hashemi

    I can hear the sadness in your writing old man. The world has passed you by. Fear not, we all reach that point one day.

    Lesson #3: You’re gonna have to serve somebody…..couldn’t be more wrong

    There’s only one lesson in this article and that’s Lesson #5.

    Maybe you should pick up a book by Thoreau and read that out loud,

    • This is a perfect example of someone who should learn to keep their mouth shut. How you communicate, what you communicate and the words you use tell the world all they need to know about your character.
      Ali, I’ve owned 5 business in my 69 years and I still know enough to make note of your name….and pass it on to the 750 connections in my LinkedIn network. Good job fool.

    • Paul Moore

      Ali,

      First, thanks so much for taking time to read this article.

      Second, I understand if you disagree with the lessons here, or dislike my writing. But you couldn’t be more mistaken about who I am. I am FULL of joy and optimism! My best days are in front of me and I have decades of productive work ahead of me.

      I hate that you somehow misunderstood my writing or tongue in cheek comments, but I welcome you to message me so we can talk if you have time. I think that if we spoke you’d see that I am not the person that you characterized here.

      Thanks again,
      Paul

      • Ali Hashemi

        Paul,

        Don’t misunderstand, I’m sure you’re a very accomplished individual but this article is a swing a miss.

        When you look around and see people younger than you out to dinner on their phones don’t jump to conclusions.

        Integrity is holding true to your core set of values, not….’acting the same as home as in public’. Believe me, I don’t want some people to act in public like they do at home!

        And telling people they have to serve someone…..takes away personal responsibility. The only person you serve is yourself…no one else is responsible for your decisions.

        Like I said before….the value of stories is very important. I would love to hear more about your story. How you became successful. How despite all your success you were still able to write such a bad article (tongue in cheek 😉

        Lastly, you asked for feedback, please don’t be offended if it comes back direct and honest…

        “I’d love to hear your reactions, and if you disagree, that’s great”…your words

    • Greg Becker

      Dude, you should seriously delete your comment. The whole business-minded / value-building world is shaking their head at your comment right now, because you’re dead wrong and clearly haven’t worked with people much in business. Building value in business is ONLY about providing value, hence serving others is the only way forward. Maybe YOU should read a few books on the topic…quietly.

  2. Paul, this was a great article. Thank you for sharing. They were all great points, with #3, 2, and 4 standing out the most to me.

    I seem to recall Rabbi Daniel Lapin mentioning in his book that businesses make money when they serve people. Reading your article, this truth sunk in to me in a whole new way. In my business, the main people I would be serving directly are home sellers and home buyers, and hopefully investors who would get a good return on their money. That brings me to point #2.

    Having a network almost seems impossible to me. As a natural introvert, I typically don’t call people period, let alone to just stay connected. Definitely an area I need to grow in as I would see this network hopefully becoming the investors mentioned above who by serving them with putting their money to work, would allow me to acquire more real estate more quickly. Would you be open to talking more about building a network that you (meaning myself) serve sometime?

    For #4, I have noticed in the past that I get better at public speaking the more I read aloud by myself, but I have never thought to read aloud someone who I want to sound like. That is brilliant! I know that will help me as I grow to become a better public speaker.

    Again, great article! Thanks for sharing!

    • Paul Moore

      David,

      Thanks for your kind and encouraging comments. I would absolutely welcome the opportunity to speak with you about building a network of people who love and care about you, and would return your call. Please message me on BP. Or if you ever happen to be near Central Virginia, I’d love to grab coffee or a meal.

      So can I add YOU to my list of people who would take my call? 🙂

  3. Barry O.

    Great Read and plenty of wisdom in there! #3, actually just did a review the other day for two people. 1 who is a problem solver, she may not be able to give you a yes, but she will have an alternative that may/may not work, but an alternative. The other is a guy who always says no, if its a challenge, new or something different! Your article made me thing on how I serve them and what I can do to improve their performance! Thanks for making me thing a little outside the box!

  4. Melvin Plummer on

    I guess Shakespeare said it best when he stated, Above All Things unto thine own self be true. Your DNA is your fingerprint, no one else has your DNA. So if you were born left-handed, embrace being left-handed. It doesn’t matter if you are short or tall, that’s who you are. If you are one of the 40% of the population who is introverted, don’t fret, Albert Einstein was an introvert. So what? You either embrace your DNA or windup on a psychiatrist’s couch for the next 20 years, or on some kind of anti-depressive medication.

    A child is born with only two fears. The first fear is the fear of loud noises. The second fear is the fear of falling. These are the only two fears that a child is born with. Any other fears a person has come from the culture, society family and so on. Once you believe you are all of these fears, they become self manifested through your own belief system. However, the fact remains that you weren’t born with all of these fears, so to some degree they are really not true.
    Some people can’t stand to be alone, others don’t have a problem at all with alone time. That’s not to say that you should become a recluse. All I am saying is be true to yourself because that’s the first step to loving yourself.

  5. Paul Moore

    Melvin,

    Thank you for your very thoughtful comments. This was really powerful, and thinking about the fears I’ve struggled with over the years, it makes me wonder where some of them originated.

    I believe we were all designed and created perfectly, with a great destiny. And then we were all thrown off course to one degree or another. If we choose, we can spend our years getting back on course and reaching for the destiny we were designed to fulfill. I wish you the best as you chase yours!

    Thanks
    Paul

  6. Paul,
    You are absolutely right, we are all thrown off course at many points throughout our lifetime. It reminds me of the story of the airplane. The airplane, when it flies from point A to point B is actually never on course. The wind is pushing it up or down to the left or right. So the pilot is constantly making corrections to keep the airplane on course.
    In a similar manner we are constantly correcting whatever forces life throws at us. So if the pilot doesn’t handle the forces of the wind correctly, the plane could potentially crash and burn. The same is true in our lives, if we don’t handle the forces that life throws at us, we to could potentially crash and burn. So, I choose to pilot my life safely and wisely and I think you are the same.

    Much success!

  7. John Murray

    I’m 60 and a multimillionaire entrepreneur. This is what I did. If you can do these 10 things you can become a successful multimillionaire.
    1, Graduated high school.
    2, Served in the military for 3 years (honorable discharge)
    3. Used my GI Bill to form a solid skill base.
    4. Worked hard to develop a broader skill base.
    5. Stayed married for 33 years, kids and the American dream
    6. Entrepreneurial passion, physical fitness and high integrity
    7. Spartan living
    8. Active listening to smart people
    9. Admit when wrong and drive on
    10. Always a seeker of freedom not money

  8. Great article Paul! I’m probably close to your age and agree with the wisdom contained in your writing. Thanks for taking the the to articulate these lessons which are gained over many years in the field and putting it out there for the younger generation to read and put into practice.

  9. Alina Trigub

    Paul, thank you for sharing your wisdom! I think the points you stated are somewhat interrelated where one is kind of derived from another (or wouldn’t exists without another). Had me stop for a while and re-think it through. Btw, I think you look a lot younger than 69! 🙂

  10. Rudolph Shepard Jr

    Great article. All of the lessons presented were dead on. First time I heard lesson #4 “Read a great book that sounds like you want to sound” I plan to put this lesson into practice immediately. I also liked the post by John Murray posted on April 14th. For the most part that’s the plan I’ve been following, just not close enough.

  11. Ben Striegle

    Paul,

    Thanks for another wonderful article! I really appreciate your wisdom. Although I am technically a millennial, I’ve always considered myself an old soul and can relate to your points regarding technology and the time and social drag it can become.

    I couldn’t agree with lesson #3 more! This is something I’m sure many younger investors can relate to. I’m so passionate and excited with real estate investing that it is sometimes difficult to maintain an equal energy level in my current position. Although I am blessed to have a very high wage job, i am trying to replace and exceed my wages with passive income.

    Speaking from experience, it is so easy to become extremely self-focused, concentrating on results, our goals, and building teams of those who add value to our pursuits. It’s easy to miss that one of the great joys in life is bringing joy to others! Something as simple as being a listening ear or giving a word of encouragement can be such a blessing for others.

    Also, things in life seldom follow the script we have in mind. Having proper perspective and attitude is so important. My most recent acquisition was a SFH in the Midwest, purchased shortly after I backed out of a 1.2 million multi family deal well on its way to closing! Although the multi family deal was a value add and would have gotten me significantly closer to my goal, I knew I needed to dissolve my partnership. Compromising our beliefs is never worth it!
    That experience proved to be very valuable as I now have a fantastic team in that market to grow my single family portfolio – Lord willing of course! And still trying to close multi family deals in several markets in the mid south ?

    Thanks again Paul, continued success

    • Paul Moore

      Ben,

      Thanks for your comments and encouragement. Very kind of you. It takes a lot of courage to back out of a deal sometimes, and it is so important to do what’s right even when it hurts. So easy to justify all the reasons to move forward. But it’s important to follow your gut and that still small voice within.

      Keep me informed of your progress!

  12. karen young

    Yea! the semi-boneless ham reference has returned! always good for a chuckle.

    I purchased the book you recommended to educate myself on syndication and it’s dry as toast. But I will persevere.

    Mahalo for sharing your wisdom.

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