20 Oct 6 Tips for Success in Real Estate and Life
In 2008, I found myself in the worst debacle of my life. I was knee-deep in the middle of the worst real estate market crash since the Great Depression. I wasn’t sure if my business would even make it through—it was that bad.
We did end up making it through, of course. Looking back, I’ve realized that even during that crisis, there were opportunities available to me…I just didn’t realize it at the time because I was so deep in the trenches.
In that same year, I read Donald Trump’s book, Never Give Up: How I Turned My Biggest Challenges Into Successes. (Please do not take this as a political statement in any way, shape, form, or fashion—because this was 2008.) I enjoyed this book because it discusses the many lessons he learned over the years and, as the title implies, how he turned challenges into successes.
Almost every challenge or obstacle you face as a business owner can be turned into a success. I can even say that is true for the debacle I found myself in during the 2008 crash.
My entire business is completely different because of that situation. The experiences I had throughout that year led me to a number of decisions that have helped make our business more recession-resistant. How we run our entire business—from the financials to refusing to sign personally and get bank loans to completely re-engineering the way we do deals—came out of that 2008 debacle.
In the appendix of that book, there are 10 success tips that you can use in business and in life. I’m not going to share all of those with you, but I am going to give you a few that I think are particularly useful.
1. Never Give Up
Don’t settle for remaining in your comfort zone. Remaining complacent is a sure-fire way to get absolutely nowhere.
What is your comfort zone? Just give this some thought. Whatever zone that you’ve defined in your mind with that question is going to be your ceiling. That’s a scary thought, so expand your thinking.
2. Expand Your Thinking: Read, Read, Read!
How can you expand your thinking? How about getting books that get you thinking outside your box?
I look around my office and I see Showboats Magazine. Big, large, expensive multi-million dollar boats. Do I want to go out and buy a sailboat tomorrow? No. I have no interest in going for a boring (in my opinion) sail. However, I do have an interest in knowing what these people do and how they think.
I just finished McDonald’s: Behind the Golden Arches. If you want to read a book that can and should expand your mind, that’s a great one. Ray Kroc started with absolutely nothing, struggled through two, three, four, maybe more failures, and then just built an empire. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling homes or popcorn, you have to read this book. Another great book which I've read several times is The Magic of Thinking Big by Robb Report.
You cannot read these types of books without thinking bigger. You just can’t. If you want to expand your mind, start reading books that are out of your comfort zone.
3. Be Passionate
My thoughts on this are simple: if you love what you’re doing, it won’t seem like work. I don’t say “I’m going to work.” I say “I’m going down to the office.” I just love doing what we do.
I recently refocused a lot of my energy on the coaching side of our business. My team, which is our kids, are now running the buying and selling side, except for the financial aspect. They’re doing all the prospecting, going on appointments, handling the buyers, handling the paperwork—everything.
On the coaching side, I can do it anywhere in the world and I can do it in my sleep. It comes easily to me. I get up pumped to do it. I’m good at it. I love helping Associates create deals.
Are you doing what you want to do right now? You’ll never be successful doing something you don’t enjoy doing.
4. Be Focused
Ask yourself this: “What should I be thinking about right now?” Shut out the interference and think about that. This is a valuable technique to get good at in the age of technology and multitasking—refocusing, being focused in general, and time blocking.
Put a sticky note or an index card on your computer that says “Is what I am doing right now moving me closer to my goals?” That’ll get you thinking. That’ll keep you focused. Keep your momentum and don’t procrastinate.
Did you ever notice a few good things happening in your life or your business and then all of a sudden, it kept snowballing? Build upon your successes and see yourself as victorious. If you see yourself as victorious, it’s going to focus you in the right direction.
5. Look at the Solution, Not the Problem
Look at the solution, not the problem. This thought deserves to be reviewed, remembered, and applied over and over and over again. It’s extremely important.
We had plenty of challenges in real estate in 2008, and we learned as we moved forward. If we had sat and complained about our problems, we’d be complaining for years to come. Instead, we focused on solutions, new ideas, and moving forward.
We’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years in our businesses, and we still make them today.
But what do we do with them? We ask ourselves:
- How much did that cost us?
- How did that happen?
- What can we do to fix it so it doesn’t happen again?
- Do we have to change any of our forms internally with the attorneys?
- What is it that we have to do to only focus on solutions?
As a result, our business is rock solid. We’re able to share that with our Associates who don’t have to go through the same mistakes. I’m not saying they’re never going to make one, but if and when they do, they have the answer at their fingertips.
6. Be the First Penguin
In Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture—a fantastic book that you should absolutely read—he tells a story about a professor who gave his students a “First Penguin Award.” When penguins are about to jump into the water that likely contains predators, one of them’s got to be the first penguin in, right?
Well, this award went to the student or the team that took the biggest gamble in trying new ideas or new technology while failing to achieve their goals. The first person who failed at their project for this class got that award.
Think about that. He has an award for those who take a chance and fail.
The person who failed now knows how to avoid those future failures. The person who knows only success? They’re more oblivious to all the pitfalls.
And I can attest to this personally. After being in the real estate business in some shape, form or fashion since 1991, I was still able to make about 15 or 20 large mistakes in 2005 that ended up making my 2007–08 quite miserable.
Then I spent three and a half years trying to fix all of that. As a result, my wife, Kim, and I were in a position by the end of 2012 to not just experience our best years ever, but to also have the best experiences. We are simply amazed at the healthy, productive, profitable, and fun culture that we’re currently aligned with—by choice—with our family and everything we do in our business.
That all came out of those mistakes. I’m not bummed about the 2008 market, in hindsight. We lost millions of dollars, yes, but we learned valuable lessons and are now reaping enormous benefits as a result.