My Lessons from the Greatest Generation – Part II

In the last Observer, I shared a few lessons and thoughts that I picked up from my grandfather before his passing. Now I would like to share a few more of these that I try to keep fresh in my mind and hopefully you can use in your business.

Lesson Four: Progress Is Not Always Forward

I can clearly remember numerous times when my grandfather would buy a product that was advertised as “New and Improved” only to be unsatisfied with the end result. The rant that followed always included the phrase “all progress isn’t forward.” Ponder on that thought for a moment. With all the advances in medical sciences, technology that makes us far more productive, and products that just make life more comfortable, it is almost a foreign concept to think that progress is not always forward. However, look around at business, government , or society in general and you will quickly find numerous things that came touted as progress only to have both positive and negative effects on our world.

Now, apply this to our business of creative real estate. The Internet, if used properly, has created an entirely new avenue to market properties. However, if we as professionals lose touch with the people involved in our transactions and their needs, has it done us any good? New tools are only improved if they are used properly. They are not any benefit to us, or more importantly our clients, if they are used or applied incorrectly. It reminds me of the old joke about the farmer who bought the chainsaw on the dealer’s promise that he could cut two cords of wood per day using the chainsaw. After using for weeks he took it back to the dealer because he could only cut half of a cord per day. The dealer asks him if it might be the engine running poorly and the farmer asks, “What engine?”

The same principal can be applied to property management. The new software and education available are great, but if you lose touch with tenants it does you absolutely no good. There are also great new ways to enhance properties, but if it doesn’t help with tenant satisfaction or retention, is it a true benefit to the owner/investor?

This is definitely not to say that we shouldn’t strive for advancements or progress. We should just be sure to identify benefits we are seeking for ourselves and our clients, and ensure that these advancements, tools, or ideas are securing those benefits. Otherwise, we will be seeing great progress without benefit to ourselves and our clients.

Lesson Five: Crops Only Grow After You Plant Them

It never fails that some people are continually after the quick buck. It is never hard to find those looking for the easy money. And it is never hard to find those willing to sell an idea on how to make fast, easy money. Unfortunately for you, I don’t seem to have any of those secrets and I don’t think anyone else does either. If I heard it once I heard it a thousand times, “Crops won’t grow until you plant them.” In other words, someone has to buy the seed, prepare the soil, and then plant the seed.

Apply that to our world. Last time I checked, in any given deal, someone still had to find the deal, investigate the deal, negotiate the deal, do the due diligence, structure the financing or financial aspects…and the list goes on. Did you notice that all of these things are necessary before the deal is closed? What about the cost of these items? They may not cost hard dollars in some cases but they certainly cost time and energy. No matter how you look at it, investment of money, or time, or energy, or all of the above are required in every potential deal and only those willing to put in the effort will see the fruits. So I guess I do have a secret to becoming wealthy-GET TO WORK! (* See Lesson Six below)

Lesson Six: If You Want To Be Wealthy, Work For Yourself

We have all witnessed lifelong corporate employees be laid off, through really no fault of their own, only to be left with a severance package that is anything but golden. Most have done fairly well and survive with a lifestyle that is acceptable. But have you ever seen truly wealthy people that got there without having an ownership stake in the venture or enterprise that created the wealth? (Please note that I am discussing financial wealth here and I realize deeply that family and spiritual wealth exist and can play a prominent role in our lives.)

Next time it comes out, take a look at the Forbes list of wealthiest people. The ventures vary greatly, but one thing is common to all: They all have or had ownership in the vehicle that created and/or continues to create their wealth. Some will have benefited by being a member of the lucky gene pool, but even they still have ownership to thank. Even the CEOs of our biggest businesses use stock options to create wealth instead of relying on pure salary-based compensation.

The principal of working for yourself to build wealth is actually a lesson I remember being taught, almost preached, to me very early on. I was also reminded of it, and re-inspired to achieve it, when taking Broker Estate Building taught by Mark Johnson and Phil Corso. If you ever have the opportunity to take their course, I would highly recommend it. They will go into such great detail on strategies and ideas that it can truly change your life by changing the way you do business.

I hope these thoughts and ideas can be a help to you as you move forward in your business. By the next issue of the Observer, it is my hope that I can get a few ideas from some of the wiser veteran members of our group and share those with you. We are so blessed to have them available; it would be an absolute shame not to garner as much as they will share with us.

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