I met a young aspiring real estate investor at a seminar, and he was full of big talk about how he was going to quit his boring job at a property management company and how the real estate world was going to tremble at his rapid ascent to the top of the mountain.
He filled my ear with his feelings that soon, very soon, he'd have 20 employees doing all the work of his real estate business for him. He expressed confidence in setting up automated marketing campaigns to bring in leads through "hands-off" strategies like pay per click, direct mailers, and billboard advertising, and an outsourced call center taking all of his company's calls and "qualifying" the buyers and sellers and taking their information so he wouldn't have to trouble himself to talk to anyone. He spoke was passionately about the sequenced "hands-off" follow-up autoresponder campaigns that would take all the leads that came in and drip marketing to them in various media until they converted to sell him a house or buy a house.
He spoke with conviction about the mansion he would own, and the 15-seater boat he would buy. You should have heard him discussing the tricked-out custom SUV he would drive, with its in-console TV and state of the art sound system with 30 inch wheelie rims of heavy chrome with inset diamonds. He explained how he'd be retiring within a few years to go out on the professional video game playing circuit where, with the time freedom from his "hands-off" real estate businesses, he would have the leisure to master playing X-Box video games better than anyone in the world, enough to win prize money worth hundreds of thousands of dollars even though by then he wouldn't need it.
And to hear him tell it, achieving all of that was gonna be a piece of cake because just last week he had borrowed the money from his mother to buy a slick and sexy piece of amazing super-dooper real estate software that with the push of a couple buttons on the internet VOILA was going to "do it all for me" and make him a multimillionaire "before my friends graduate college and went on to some boring job".
I mean, you could see the dollar signs in his eyes, and the way he talked there was no doubt in his mind that real estate Shang-ri-la would open up its treasures to him within a year, maybe even within the next 90 days, and that property management job could get the boot maybe even by next week "once I close my first deal".
In fact, he was itching to head back to the hotel and get back in the "cockpit" of that super-dooper real estate software, and get it to start "spitting out checks".
He confided in me that he was "at this event because an older successful investor in his late 30s had taken an interest in me" and paid for him to attend as his guest. The two had driven up from their home city together, where the man was a contractor and rehab investor, but this young man assured me that he "sure as heck wasn't going to be working hard in his 30s and he certainly "won't be spending five grand to come to boring lectures like this place". He also maintained that "that guy worked way too hard, out there managing rehab crews" and that "he has a pretty boring business without any of the cool technology", and if it were him he'd already "be on the beach every day and outsource all that hard work".
Because I applaud his confidence, and for attending this event where there were in fact many seasoned investors who came to learn even more to put in place for their already successful real estate businesses-meaning, this was more of a "high level" event than your standard rah-rah newbie fest- I certainly wasn't planning to say or imply in any way that I didn't believe in him.
In my experience, there's enough people in your life, his life, or anyone's life who are already quite capable of raining on your parade and being negative about your dreams.
Besides, while his goals are big, they aren't impossible.
After all, I'm only 29 and the size and scope of my own business sometimes astounds me in the incredible progress I've made in less than 7 years in business-significantly less than many of my early mentors, a number of whom now look at my business accomplishments with a great deal of amazement.
And I do use technology and automation extensively to free up my time. And I do have dozens of people who work in my businesses. And I do have lifestyle goals that are not so different than his "be on the beach and still be making money" dreams, which every day I feel that I get closer to achieving.
But the kid still put a bad taste in my mouth from all this "push a button success" and "boring event" and "hard work is old-fashioned and not needed" talk. I just didn't feel it was my place to pop his bubble.
"You seem to have done your homework," I told him. "Just with what you've learned here at this event, if you can get access to adequate money, and apply what you've learned then I can't think of any real reason why you shouldn't succeed".
I said that, but with what we had talked about and what I observed in his demeanor and behavior, I could see a reason he might not make it.
To be truthful, despite all the tools laid out for him to use, despite all the knowledge crammed into his head even at just this one event an older more experienced mentor had taken his time and money to share with him...despite a job where he was perfectly positioned to learn many things that could be beneficial to his real estate plans, success would all depend on him.
And here he was claiming his job was beneath him and ignoring its inherent opportunities to learn more about real estate. Here he was, on the second day of an event I would have done anything to attend at his age, but was unable to afford, here he was the guest of a "boring" would-be mentor, surrounded by any number of other high-level real estate entrepreneurs who would be an amazing source of future advice, partnership, funding and more if only he took the time and effort now to connect with and afterward to build a relationship with them.
And here he was, eyes dazzled by successful internet pitchmanship now filled with a burning desire wanting to get out of there as soon as possible to go back to the hotel room and play with his real estate video game that was supposed to make him rich.
You know what bothers me?
Software won't make you rich.
Neither will software installed in your brain, which we can use as a metaphor to describe 'knowledge'.
Neither knowledge or tools will make you rich by themselves just for owning them.
Your success and wealth in business comes from applying the tools and knowledge you have.
This young man's success would depend on his drive, his ability to prioritize this pursuit and his desire to succeed, but mostly in whether or not he had the courage to act in a single-minded fashion that would concentrate his determination, planning, energy and marshalling of existing resources (money, time, relationships, skills, tools) when necessary at times to the exclusion of all else (pleasures, responsibilities, time-wasting habits) until he reached the goals he'd told me about.
If he could do those things with the tenacity of a tiger on the prowl, then in my experience the sky was the limit and he could master the plains as far as the eye could see.
Because that's what achieving success has been like for people I know who've done it. Like a tiger on the prowl, always on, always ready to pounce on opportunities.
But people who believe success comes from pushing a button or out of a bottle of magical potion they drink, like this kid seemed to believe, rarely if ever have the patience necessary to act in that single-minded fashion I mentioned long enough to achieve the success necessary.
And I definitely heard nothing from the kid about hard work, sacrificing pleasures now for greater later, or using his time effectively.
Notice how everything he talked about would be "automated" this, and "done for him" that?
I tell people all the time that there is no greater system for the accumulation of great wealth than the capitalist system, a system that has produced untold miltigeraires worldwide, and more than you would believe if I shared with you the stat just in the last 10 years-while we are in a "recession" according to the media.
Opportunity is everywhere, within sight and results just out of reach for the person focused and courageous enough to reach out and take them or make them.
But there's no guarantee anyone in a capitalist system will ever rise above mediocre, found a successful business, or make their millions in real estate investing-or any business.
The best way I know to judge whether a man or woman will reach that pinnacle of success that they say they want is this: you have to desire getting it more than you want anything else in the world.
And, most importantly you have to have the continuously-updating mindset that makes sure that you never reach "it".
The successful people I know always keep themselves striving after another carrot that's dangling in front of them, always out of reach. It doesn't matter that they've harvested a whole field of carrots, it's the one or ones they can see but not yet touch that drives them.
Wonder what happened to the aspiring young real estate investor?
The last time I corresponded with him, he was still working for the same company he was working for when I first met him. Doing the same 'boring job'.
His dreams of being a successful investor were still no more than dreams.
"Maybe I could have made it work," he said, but the underlying tone of our conversation was that he just felt there were too many obstacles in the path to his getting where he said he wanted to go.
He could never get started.
He even used the words that he "could never flip the ON switch".
But I think I know the real reason he never has turned his dreams into concrete reality.
There's no "OFF" switch on a tiger.
And there's no "RICH" switch on any software you can buy.