I believe that real estate is one of the only ways that just about anyone can build long-term wealth for themselves regardless of their education, social status, or finances. You also don't need to come up with the "next big thing." You just need to apply common, everyday practices.
I started off in real estate by buying properties cheap, fixing them up, then selling them retail. No fancy "lease/purchases" for me...just straight up buy/repair/sell.
Now I am in this for the long haul, meaning I don't want to sell any real estate. I would prefer to have some equity and eventually strong cash flows from a collection of properties.
I'm also contemplating starting a property management company for other investors (as well as those who need to rent their homes because they currently can't sell), and I'm thinking about providing services to banks and other lenders with troubled assets.