Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Nature of an Opportunity

We all live in the same world, we see the same things, we touch the same things and we hear the same things. I believe that no matter who you are, there are things going on around you that can be life changers if recognized. I remember many years ago I learned one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned at the counter of a glass shop.  A friend and I were picking up a piece of glass and noticed the employees were moving furniture and supplies to a new building. I never thought anything of it but my friend asked them “so what’s happening to this old building?” The answer was they were going to have it torn down. It was an older but very good metal frame, metal skin building. My friend quickly glanced at me with eyebrows raised for a moment then turned back to the owner and asked “So who’s taking it down?” He said he wasn’t sure yet they were still getting bids for the work. My friend remarked “We’ll take it down for free!” Sensing a potential profit to be had the owner asked, how much we would give for it. Our answer was “we’re not giving you anything for it but if you are going to have to pay to have it removed, we’ll do it for free!”  After about 5 minutes of negotiation we agreed to buy it for a dollar and by the weekend we were busy dismantling a very nice metal building. We split the materials and my friend built a 3 stall auto body shop with his share and I built a woodworking shop with mine.

The point of the matter was that I would have missed the opportunity completely, and I can’t tell you the number of people that wanted our building when they found out we had made a deal to get it. The lesson I learned that day in the glass shop was to keep my eyes and ears open to everything possible that was happening around me. The first step in taking advantage of an opportunity is to recognize when you’re near one. Since that day, I’ve tried my best to learn to spot opportunities. I’m still not as good at it as I would like to be, but it’s a fun hobby. Even if I don’t intend on following through on them all, I still try to hone my skill at recognizing opportunities when they present themselves. I’ve even turned friends onto opportunities that I’ve done all the leg work on. It’s okay, there’s plenty to go around.

 Still, recognizing an opportunity is kind of like recognizing the “potential” in something. They say that all the potential in the world and 50 cents will buy you a cup of coffee and nothing more. ($1.50 these days) It’s no good to you if you don’t act on it. Here is the second problem, acting on the opportunity in front of you. I would say that if everyone became determined to find and pursue 3 opportunities each year, two within their comfort zone and one outside their comfort zone, they would discover more about themselves than nearly anything else they could do. Choosing to find an opportunity will open your eyes to possibilities around you that pass you by every day. Acting on an opportunity will make you feel vulnerable and energized all at the same time. It will unlock creativity that you may not know you had. Opportunities always come with missing pieces. That’s why people don’t see them or act on them because someone will have to supply some missing pieces to make them work. If you have the knack of seeing the missing pieces, then you can be a master at finding and making opportunities work for you.

My challenge to you is to seek out opportunities around you and make some of them happen.

Incedentally, my friend didn’t have any cash with him and I put up the entire investment of one dollar myself. He never paid me back for his share and I remind him of it occasionally even 30 years later.

The Fascinating World of Assets

Almost everyone I know works hard to earn an honest living. Most of us grew up with the notion that working hard was the road to success, (however we define success). I think the older we get the more we begin to realize that no matter how hard we work, the lifestyle we seek seems just out of reach. When things go well for a long time we may get the feeling that we have finally gotten ahead. But it only takes one crisis to push us behind again. But if we just work hard enough we can regain momentum again and pull ahead. There’s really only one problem. When we work hard we are still limited to our available time, our available skills and our available resources. SO, no matter what our earning capacity is, there is still a limit to what you can accomplish by working hard.

Some years back, I was struggling to earn enough just to put food on the table and keep essental bills paid. I was working hard but jobs were scarce, good paying ones even more scarce. I was woking a job plus doing odd jobs in my spare time, and you know what? There just wasn’t enough hours in the day. By chance I caught a piece of a story on the news talking about a book but missed the title and the author. I remembered hearing “What the wealthy teach their kids about money that the poor and middle class do not”. What a fascinating thought.

I went to a book store and gave them that phrase and they immediately put me on to the book. I bought it and read it immediately. I learned many profound lessons but one stood out beyond all the others to me. It was the authors definition of assets and liabilities. I knew the “Websters definition”.  The author re-defined the definition to say “Assets put money in your pocket whether you work or not. Liabilities take money out of your pocket whether you work or not”. This one phrase was enough to change everything about the way I approached earning my income.

The first thing to do is to honestly ask yourself “Do I even have any assets”? (by this definition) My answer was no. Everything I had that I considered an asset actually required me to spend money to own. I had nothing that produced income for me. (Except my “Hard Work”) From that day I determined that if I was going to work hard I would start working hard building assets rather than working hard for a paycheck.

How has that decision worked out you may ask? I still work hard but usually only for 30 hours a week. I haven’t collected a paycheck for about 5 years. The income the assets produce is more than any employment income I’ve ever made and……I decide when I get a raise by adding more assets.

This came about by understanding a simple principle and making a simple decision. Anyone can grasp the concept of an asset and anyone can make a decision to choose the path of building assets. It takes minimal education, minimal start up capital and really does not require any harder work than what most people do on their job. It doesn’t even require you give up your job. You can do both depending how fast or slow you want to build.

The question you must ask yourself is do you want to work hard for your money or have your money work hard for you? Its very simple!

Creating a Legacy

A few years ago we got together with some friends and had and extended conversation about our life goals.  Over the course of several weeks of long, interesting discussions, we all defined and wrote down our goals or vision for life. There were three couples besides Shelley and I. Everyone had different goals but all had elements of family and elements of ministry. (We were all involved with ministry and all felt strongly about it.) Basically, our life goals were to make a difference in peoples lives. As we looked at it more closely, we asked ourselves the question, “What do we want to leave behind after we’re gone?” After all I guess that’s the real measure of a life well spent is that your impact lives on after you’re gone. What we were all saying is that we wanted the impact we had on our families and the impact we had in ministry to live beyond us. In a sense it was about leaving a Legacy. We called it leaving a “Family Legacy” and leaving a “Kingdom Legacy”.

I would say that everyone desires to make a difference. I’ve always said that. I’m sure other people do too. The strange thing is that until a sense of focus develops, chances are the whole legacy thing will be left completely to chance. I’ve watched (without getting too detailed) both family and friends fight over inhieritance. Its almost as if they are saying that there isn’t enough left over to satisfy us much less enough to build upon. I believe the real issue is that the vision seldom ever becomes multi-generational. For that reason a potential legacy gets dismantled just when it should be taken over by another generation. If another generation is not interested in the vision, then the basic foundation of the vision was never substancial enough, clear enough, or compelling enough for a passing of the torch.

We decided that if we were to leave the kind of legacy we wanted, we were going to have to make some very serious long range plans and commitments. And, we are okay with that. The reason is…..It’s worth it!

One of the first benefits we’ve begun to experience is that as our “second generation” has picked up the vision, we now get to dream, play, build business, and build a Legacy with our kids. The beginning was tough because we had to define some big goals and initiate the plans on our own. Those of you that know us also know that we have had an intensity about our business for the past few years. The Saturn V rockets that sent the Apollo programs into space burned about 12 metric tons (26,000 pounds) of fuel for 7 seconds before lift off. Two and a half minutes later, Saturn V was traveling at over 6,000 miles per hour with seven and a half million pounds of thrust. The first 7 seconds produced no movement even though 26,000 pounds of fuel was expended. At that magic moment when critical mass was reached, momentum began, and each moment after, the momentum increased.

We have made it past the “Critical Mass” moment and now we enjoy the increasing momentum we are experiencing. If the Saturn V mission controllers had a panic after burning through 25,000 pounds of fuel and aborted because that had not moved even 1/4 of an inch off the launch pad they would have failed to reach the moon. Don’t panic if your start is slow. You may not have reached your “critical mass” yet.

I will be publishing more on our Legacy building. I hope you find it inspiring.

Creativity Rules!

So far, the stats say the most read story is the one on the no money deal. So if you liked that, you’ll love this. This story was one of the more creative deals we’ve ever done. Remember that traditional financing is only one of many ways to get the job done. One of the biggest obstacles is the down payment. (It amazes me that people want to invest but fall apart when something as insignificant as a down payment derails the whole dream of investing) If you want to be serious about anything in life, get used to the idea of committing time and resources to it!

Anyway, back to the deal. We were probably 2-3 years into our investing business and still trying to figure out how it all worked. This deal came to us at the end of the year and caught us in the middle of trying to scratch together enough cash to pay property taxes due at the end of December. The first principle is keep your eyes and ears open to opportunity. I was talking to a banker friend and he rolled his eyes slightly when I tried to make a clever comment about foreclosures. It took me by surprise a little and I asked him “What?” waiting for his response. He said he’d been dealing with a couple of them that were driving him crazy. As it turned out they had a property that was their property from hell. It wasn’t a bad property but everything they did with it seemed to backfire on them. It was a 2 bedroom house on an acreage that they had tried to sell and had one buyer after another fall through and they wanted it gone.

I went to look at it and then came back and told them I would make an offer if they would either accept it or reject it right on the spot. No “we’ll run it past the president or the board and get back to you”. My offer was about 40% of the appraisal. After about 5 minutes of negotiation they accepted an offer of about 45% of appraisal. Guess what, I didn’t have the money and worse yet I was still $1,500 short on having enough to pay the property taxes due in a month. BUT, the deal was too good. 30 days to make it work. ( I didn’t tell the bank I didn’t have the money. After all …… couple of weeks to work that out before closing)

I think this next part separates those who are serious from the rest. There was no way to get the remaining $1,500 for taxes and the $3,000 down payment needed by saving it up or earning it in that short of time. I went right out looking for a private investor willing to put up $5,000 at 9% interest for two years. I didn’t stop at one or two. I hit up every one I could think of. I found 3 willing to make the deal. The only problem was that none of them could get the money together before closing. I did get the loan contract together though so the money was committed, the timing just wasn’t working out.

When the closing day arrived, I took out a cash advance on a credit card to make the down payment. About a week later I got the $5,000 private “down payment” loan and repaid the credit card advance of $3,000, used another $1,500 of the $5,000 to finish paying off the property taxes. Then used the remaining $500 to get some Christmas presents for the family.

The rent we collected was enough to pay the mortgage, the private loan payments, taxes and insurance with about $30 left over each month. Once the down payment loan was paid off 2 years later, we had about $225 left over each month. This deal made a good investment the day we closed it and is still a productive investment today. Creativity Rules!

This deal worked so well for us that we began using it as a regular part of our investing program. Only now we offer 12% interest and will go as short as six months if needed or we will still do longer 2 or 3 year terms. We have deals like this going on nearly all of the time. The most important thing to get from this is that when you find your deal, you can find a way to get it done….. IF……you really want to bad enough.

 

Are you looking for opportunity?

Some months back I posted some “opportunity” related posts on Facebook. I was curious to know what people thought in general about the opportunities present today. The reaction was……..spirited to say the least. I would say there were 3 basic responses. Those who believed there were opportunities all around and were taking advantage of them. (smallest group by the way) 2nd were those who “claimed” they believed there were opportunities all around but weren’t doing anything about them ( I wonder about this group). And finally, those who almost got mad that anyone would suggest that opportunities were available at all. (I feel bad for this group)

In a way, I felt like this was a living example of the story of the three kinds of people. Those who make things happen. Those who watch things happen. And those who wonder what happened.

When people find out I’m a real estate investor, the first question I get is “So what do you think of this housing market?” My response is; “It’s GREAT, but then it depends on if you’re buying or selling.” No one anywhere disputes the fact that this is the time to be buying Real Estate. I believe this is the one chance I will have in my lifetime where there is a “Perfect Storm” of opportunity to create wealth. If you believe the saying “buy low, sell high”, then this is “buy low”.

I strongly believe that there will be people 10 years from now that say (if they’re brave enough and honest enough) that they wish they would have acted on the opportunities present today. Opportunities do exist and we are buying more than we chave the ability to keep. We post them on Facebook and a couple of websites. There are opportunities to invest small (or large) amounts of cash for steady returns. We also have an inventory of properties that are anywhere from “needs rehab, wholesale” type all the way up to fully rehabbed with tenat inplace making money type. You can see a sample of them at www.oasispropertyhomes.com There are more not listed and more on the way.

Don’t just watch things happen (and certainly don’t be someone who wonders what happened) Get out there and be the person that makes things happen. Make it happen for you! Make 2012 the year you go for the gold, not settle for the bronze.

 

Is it really all about the MONEY?

Whether its to my face or behind my back, every month there are friends, family and complete strangers who will comment, “They’re just all about money!” Now that doesn’t really bother me that much. In fact its kind of funny because its an insight to how people think.  If you’ve said that about us then I’m sorry, this may offend you.

First let me say that when we sarted we were more motivaed about the “lack of money” than any dream of an abundance of money. And the fact is that if the subject comes up, almost every one I know still complains about their “lack of money” (as long as the conversation isn’t centered around the subject of investing, then the stand they take is that”money’s not important to me”) How lame is that! Most people with regular jobs would love to get a better paying job for “more money”. they would love to get some overtime for “more money”. They will sacrifice the best part of their day for “money”. They will work a job they hate because, well, “its money”.

Here’s the point. People are “all about the money” in proportion to how much time they spend getting enough of it. Those who work a job for a living work hard every day to keep the bills paid. They continue to work hard week after week, year after year and I admire a good work ethic as much as anyone. They difference is that when we decided to re-direct our working efforts ffrom working a job over to investing we worked just as hard but for a different result. That result is a perpetual income that allows us to pursue what we believe are important things in life over the pursuit of money. Yes, we believe there are things more important than using up 40-60 hours a week pursuing a paycheck.

Here’s the part I do have a problem with. When we share our enthusiam, experience and time with people trying to show them how they too can experience some financial freedom, many believe we are just trying to hustle them for money too. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is enough opportunity out there to make everyone I know wealthy. (or at least financially independent) If you want to get hung up on “Its all about the money” then help yourself. But trust me when money is plentiful, and you have the ability to be content with what you have, money doesn’t really cross your mind that much. And you don’t spend you time pursuing it.

We’ve spent the last year working on a family retreat that doesn’t make us any money. We are doing it for the enjoyment that comes from doing something that our family will be able to enjoy for generations. That wouldn’t happen if we were chasing money.

We offer all kinds of ways for people to work with us building their dream of financial freedom. If you think “it’s all about the money” with us, you will automatically forfiet any opportunity to gain from our knowledge, experience and connections. If you can get over “its all about the money” then you may have a chance to “Live Your Dream” too. 

 

New Investor Challenge for 2012

Every year I go through a goal setting ritual in December. part of it has to do with my investment activities for the upcoming year. Every year but one I have failed to meet my goals. One year I surpassed them. Still, all of the years that have been “failures” have added significant assets to our investment portfolio. So is that a failure……. or a success. By setting the bar high enough to make it a challenge to reach, I usually fall short. But I don’t mind, I’m still gaining ground.

I’ve been teaching, instructing and encouraging almost anyone who will listen on the financial freedom they can secure for themselves and their families for close to seven years now. So far my three children and two friends have been the only ones who have stepped out and actually done anything about it. Of them, myself, one of my kids and her husband and one friend have grown their business to where its their only source of income. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen with a decision and just a little dilegence and determination.

I challenge everyone who has ever told me “I wish I could have financial freedom” to sit down, make a decision and commit to set a goal for yourself and secure one solid investment for 2012. If you don’t, you will probably find yourself sitting there in December of 2012 in the exact same place as you are now. Just like the end of last year and the year before that.