The world’s out of control …

The second decade of the last century are known as The Roaring Twenties.

Good times were fueled by abundant currency from the newly formed Federal Reserve … and the resulting debt and speculation which ran rampant.

As you may know, it ended badly.

The Great Depression ensued … an event which ruined lives, fundamentally changed the United States government, and took decades to recover from.

Today, we’re on the threshold of the second decade of this century.

And once again, the United States is “enjoying” a Fed-fueled party of absurd debt and speculation.

Will it end badly this time?

Or will the lessons learned from the 1929 and 2008 debacles provide the necessary wisdom to ride the free money wave without an epic wipe out?

No one knows.

But as we say often, better to be prepared for a crisis and not have one … than to have a crisis and not be prepared.

Last time,  we discussed some of the gauges we’re watching on the financial system dashboard such as gold, oil, debt, the Fed’s balance sheet, bonds, and interest rates.

But of course, we can’t control any of these things.

That’s why we think it’s very important to control those things you CAN control … so you’re better positioned to navigate the things you can’t.

Fortunately, real estate is an investment vehicle which is MUCH easier to control than the paper assets trading in the Wall Street casinos.

And if history repeats itself, as Main Street investors who are riding the Wall Street roller coasters get spooked … many will come “home” to the Merry-Go-Round of real estate.

For those of us already there, this migration of money creates both opportunities and problems.

Like any investment, when lots of new money floods in, it lifts asset prices.

While this generates equity, unless you sell or cash-out refinance, your wealth is only on paper. And equity is fickle. Cash flow is resilient wealth.

Meanwhile, when prices rise higher than incomes, finding real deals that cash flow is much harder. We’re already seeing it happen.

The key is to move up to product types and price points where small, inexperienced investors can’t play.

Of course, this takes more money and credit than many individual investors have. That’s a problem, but also an opportunity.

Another strategy is to move to more affordable, but growing markets.

This also takes an investment of time and money into research, exploration, due diligence, and long-distance relationship building … unless you happen to live in such a market.

So once again, this is better done at scale … because the time and expense of long-distance investing is hard to amortize into one or two small deals.

Bigger is better.

It’s for these reasons, and many more, we’re huge fans of syndication

Syndication allows both active and passive real estate investors to leverage each other to access opportunities and scale neither could achieve on their own.

But whether you decide syndication is a viable strategy for you …

… to take more control going into what history may dub “The Tumultuous Twenties” …

… it’s important to have a game plan for developing both yourself and your portfolio.

So here’s a simple process to take control of your investing life, business and portfolio heading into a new decade …

Step 1: Cultivate positive energy

It takes a lot of energy to change direction and compress time frames.

Building real wealth with control requires learning new things, taking on new responsibilities, and building better relationships.

So it’s important to put good things into your mind and body …

… be diligent to put yourself in positive environments and relationships, while limiting exposure to negative ones …

… and stay intentional about focusing your thoughts and feelings.

That’s because what you think, how you feel, and what you believe all affect your decisions and actions. And what you do directly impacts the results you produce.

Improving results starts with a healthy body, mind, and spirit. More positive energy allows you to pack more productivity into every minute of the day.

Step 2: Establish productive structure

This also takes effort. That’s why we start with cultivating energy. But being effective isn’t just about expending energy.

There’s a big difference between an explosion and propulsion.

Structure helps focus your energy to propel you to and through your goals.

Structure starts with getting control of your schedule. Time is your most precious resource … and you can’t make more of it.

But structure also includes your spaces … your home, office … even your vehicles and devices. They should be organized to keep you focused and efficient at your chosen tasks.

Yes, you can and should delegate to get more done faster.

But even if delegation is your only work (it’s not … learning, monitoring and leading your team, making decisions … those stay on your plate) …

… you’ll need spaces conducive to focus, with access to resources and information, so you can organize and delegate effectively.

Then there’s legal, financial, accounting, and reporting structures.

Once again, all these take time and energy to get together. So start by cultivating energy and taking control of your schedule.

Step 3: Set clear, compelling goals with supporting strategies and tactics.

You might think this comes first, and perhaps it does.

However, you can cultivate energy and establish fundamental structure as a universal foundation for just about any goals.

But whenever you choose to do your goal setting, it’s important to establish a very clear and compelling mission, vision, set of values, and specific goals for yourself, your team, and your portfolio.

This clarity will help you more quickly decide what and who should be in your life and plans … and what and who shouldn’t.

When you have clarity of vision, strategy and tactics become evident.

Step 4: Act relentlessly

We think it’s important to “keep your shoulder to the boulder” … otherwise it rolls you back down the hill that you’re working so hard to climb.

Fortunately, as you use your newfound energy and structure to act relentlessly towards your goals, you’ll eventually enjoy the momentum of good habits.

Lastly, be aware that this is a circular process … not a linear one.

You’ll keep doing it over and over and over. That’s why having an annual goal setting retreat is an important time commitment on your calendar.

We don’t know if the 2020s will be terrible or terrific at the macro level.

But history says those at the micro level who prosper in good times and bad are those who are aware, prepared, decisive, and able to execute as challenges and opportunities unfold.

Those are all things each of us can control.

Preparing for a New Year with Zero-Based Thinking

At the beginning of a new year, we invite you to take a look at where you’ve been, where you’re at now, and where you’re going.

Whether you’ve never bought a property or you have a full portfolio, NOW is the time to reflect and make sure you’re on the right path with your goals and your business.

After all, “If you don’t change anything, nothing changes.”

In this show, we’ll walk you through how to apply success strategist Brian Tracy’s concept of zero-based thinking to the real estate business, starting with two important questions:

  1. Knowing what you know now, would you make the decisions of the past year again?
  2. Why or why not?

Perhaps you just need to do some fine-tuning … or perhaps you need a major course correction! Either way, we want to help YOU make better decisions going forward.

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show you’ll hear from:

  • Your host, team player Robert Helms
  • His doesn’t-always-play-well-with-others co-host, Russell Gray

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Evaluate yourself … and your team

Your evaluation should start with yourself. Begin the process by applying the question, “Knowing what I know now, would I make that decision again?” to the properties in your portfolio.

Then, ask yourself why you would or would not make that decision again. You can divide your answer into three categories … the property, the people involved, and the marketplace.

Answering this question about your decisions will help you avoid making the same mistakes going forward and make more targeted decisions.

After your self-evaluation, look at your team.

Every real estate investor has a team. As an investor, you’re a borrower, a buyer, a client, and a customer … and on the other side of these relationships sit your team members.

As you evaluate your team, start by asking some essential questions:

  1. Do I have everyone I need to run my business?
  2. Where is each person on a scale of 1 to 10? Why?
  3. How could I change or augment this relationship to get this team member up to a 9 or 10?
  4. Ultimately, ask yourself, can I salvage this relationship or do I need to start over?

You can’t always change the people on your team, but you can change your relationship with them. So, figure out what you can do to get to where you want … or whether you need to replace a low performer entirely.

Also ask yourself, “What makes a good team member for ME?” Figure out why your high performers are 8s, 9s, and 10s, then look to them to coach other members of your team and offer referrals.

You want the people on your team to be better, smarter, harder-working, and more committed than most people out there … even if it means they’re better than you.

Your TEAM has helped you get to where you are … so build them up. Serve your team members, and put them in a position to win, so YOU can win too.

And, if you’re looking for more feedback on yourself, ask your team to evaluate how YOU can become a better client. This will strengthen the relationship on both ends.

Review and fine-tune your financial situation

As an investor, you should have a basic idea of where you’re at and where you want to go … in other words, your personal investment philosophy.

If you haven’t yet fleshed out your personal investment philosophy, we highly encourage you to take that step before digging deeper.

Got your investment philosophy written out, revised, and ready to go? Now is a GREAT time of year to take a look at your financial situation … and evaluate where you can minimize spending.

There are three major expenses that can be leveraged against your equity to free up some investable money:

  1. Interest
  2. Insurance
  3. Taxes

Guess what all three have in common? They’re an expense everyone pays for, but no one wants to.

You could brown-bag it every day to save money … OR you could work on minimizing the costs you really don’t want to be spending money on in the first place.

Your responsibility as an investor is to manage debt, equity, and cash flow. It’s key that you have a strategy to manage your money so you can accelerate equity growth.

Your first step in making a financial change is to seek out experts on your team who can help you get to where you want to go. Your second step is to ask yourself what’s missing in your own portfolio of knowledge … and then seek out education and training to address gaps.

Below are tools for evaluating each of these three major areas of expense.

Interest

The basic question you want to ask when it comes to interest is, “Are there places I can change my loan so it makes more sense?”

As with any financial decision, step carefully and rely upon knowledgeable team members.

Look at the big picture to see where you might make changes. You want to manage your mortgage for maximum net worth.

Check to see whether your lender will bundle properties to free up your borrowing power. Look at your current interest rates and loan terms.

Consider refinancing, but realize that refinancing means kicking a big can down the road. So, consider the long run, and not just your monthly cash flow.

Insurance

For each insurance policy you hold, evaluate the policy itself as well as the carrier.

Make sure your policies will actually pay the risks you’re exposed to.

We recommend meeting with your insurance company to evaluate the company and your policy and find ways to optimize your premium.

There’s a steep learning curve here, so make sure you have a knowledgeable team member by your side or available for questions.

Taxes

No one wants to pay taxes. Ideally, we would all pay as little as legally possible.

To do so, you need to know the tax law and, most importantly, have a good tax team … your financial advisor and your accountant.

We recommend meeting with your tax advisor to reassess cost segregation, property tax mitigation, your depreciation schedules, cost acceleration, expensing business costs, and structuring your business.

Real estate is one of the best assets when it comes to tax benefits, so invest some time to educate yourself.

And be proactive … come to your CPA with ideas and questions. Ask, “How can I do this?” instead of “Is this possible?”

Assess how you spend your time

Time is also an asset … perhaps your most valuable one.

By choice, we spend less time on real estate investing now because our priorities have changed. That doesn’t mean our profits have suffered, however.

Look at your calendar, relationships, health, and satisfaction level and ask yourself, “Do I own this business, or does it own me?”

To make a change, start by keeping a detailed calendar of how you spend your time.

Look at easily delegated tasks first and find ways to offload them.

Then look at the critical tasks on your list and figure out what the key performance indicators are for each task. Set up processes so you can delegate these tasks as well.

Refashion yourself … from a one-band man, to a well-oiled team.

We encourage you to find clarity about the things that absolutely require your time and effort, and the things that can be delegated and even done better by others.

The shift from self-employed to team manager requires a lot of fortitude, devotion, and skill, but it’s absolutely worth it.

Ultimately, your business should be fashioned in a way that it could be a model for 1,000 more just like it … a smooth-functioning machine.

Ask yourself, “If I didn’t own this business, would I buy it?” Because you are buying it with your blood, sweat, and tears on a daily basis.

Check your mission, vision, and values

You don’t want to spend your whole life trying to get from Point A to Point B if Point B isn’t really where you want to be.

Don’t get so caught up in the doing that you forget your destination.

All your strength as a real estate investor will come from your mission, vision, and values … so make sure you sit down and really fine-tune those three core beliefs.

Interested in having us coach you through the process of finding your mission, vision, and values? Check our Create Your Future Goals Retreat and get on the advanced waiting list now.

At the beginning of a new year, take stock. Congratulate yourself for what you’ve achieved … and get excited about where real estate can take you. There really are no limits!


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources to help real estate investors succeed.

Preparing to Prosper with Social Capital

The people you spend time with influence what you think … and where you’ll end up. Building your social network gives you power and safety in an unstable economic environment.

Real estate is a relationship business. The most successful real estate investors have built a network of quality connections so they can exchange value when the time is right.

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show, we’ll hear from Chris Martenson, co-author of the book Prosper! He’ll explain the eight types of capital … and take a deep dive into how and why building social capital is important.

Listen in! You’ll hear from:

  • Your socially adept host, Robert Helms
  • His socially awkward co-host, Russell Gray
  • Author and futurist Chris Martenson

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Chris Martenson’s eight forms of capital

If you listen to the show, you’ve heard us talk about the book Chris Martenson and Adam Taggart wrote. It’s called Prosper!, and we think it should be required reading for everyone … especially real estate investors.

Chris has a PhD in science, but today he works as an economic researcher and futurist. He says he is not a forecaster or a visionary, instead approaching his predictions through the lens of his scientific background.

Prosper! is a book about preparing for the future … but preparing doesn’t mean prepping a bunker. It means not taking for granted the energy and natural resources we rely on … and taking steps to make your life better today AND in the future.

“We can’t have a future based on the past,” Chris says. As technology, fuel sources, and the economy change, so will the way we prosper.

What can we do to prepare for the future? Build up capital, says Chris. He gave us a rundown of the eight essential types of capital important to a happy, healthy, and prosperous life.

  1. Financial capital. “Grow it and take care of it,” says Chris. (Don’t worry, the book goes into way more detail.)
  2. Living capital. Not only do we need to monitor the health of our bodies, but we should take stock of the health of the ecosystem around us, including soil, water, plants, and animals.
  3. Material capital. Don’t just own “stuff.” Think about whether your belongings are valuable and long-lasting. What properties do you own, and how are they fueled? How about your vehicles? Chris recommends buying high-durability basics that are simple to fix instead of cheap plastic tools that waste both money and resources over time.
  4. Knowledge capital. This is the sum or your book learning and actual experience.
  5. Social capital. Your social capital is built not just on how many people you know, but also on how well you know them and whether you can depend on them.
  6. Emotional capital. If you fall apart at the first sign of trouble, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve built up the other seven types of capital. Be able to rebound from insults and setbacks. Know yourself well enough that you can respond with a clear head when times are tight.
  7. Cultural capital. You either have this or you don’t, says Chris. The key is to take stock of where you’re at and where you want to be.
  8. Time capital. “Time is our most important asset,” says Chris. It’s important we be able to prioritize. In Chris’s words, “You get to waste one life … so don’t waste it!”

How and why to build your social capital

Rich social capital equals a happier, healthier person, says Chris, a person with a greater sense of reward and purpose. We derive meaning from the people we spend time with.

Chris measures his social capital by the number of people he could call to watch his kids if there were an emergency. (Take a second to take stock. How many people in your address book could you depend on to help with a last-minute crisis?)

Social capital is incredibly important … for both personal well-being and success as a businessperson. So how do we build it?

It’s simple, says Chris … spend time doing stuff with people.

For example, Chris hosts a monthly neighborhood potluck with anyone who’ll come. And he makes and effort to have real conversations with people … instead of just small talk.

The key to social capital? “You have to be the one to take the risk,” Chris says. Be real. Be vulnerable. And get down to the deep questions, instead of staying at surface level.

Build rapport and get to know people. It takes time, but results in a deep knowledge of others’ strengths and weaknesses.

As a real estate investor, your business is built on relationships. You don’t want those relationships to be simply transactional. By building rapport and depth, you’ll get better deals … and be more satisfied with your relationships.

Social capital is incredibly important. So sit down and make a strategic decision to make an effort to build on your current relationships … and make new ones.

Chris notes that most Americans are living in a state of anxiety and fear … but not taking any steps to make their situation better. In a happy and successful life, there’s no room for stress and strife, he says.

How can you step away from anxiety? “It’s all about the doing,” says Chris.

Chris’s business, Peak Prosperity, wants to give his community of readers knowledge about what’s happening now so they can take a big-picture view. But more importantly, he aims to help people take steps to change the way they live and prosper.

Envisioning the future

Interested in building your social capital? Come to our Create Your Future Goals Retreat in January! We aim to help you figure out your values, motivations, and goals … so you can find people who share similar values.

We enjoy talking to Chris and learning from him because he really pays attention to what the future might look like.

It’s a guarantee that the future will look different. Artificial intelligence, communication, and technology are all poised to shift radically in the next few decades. And big changes are coming to the economy, social stratosphere, and environment.

Yet despite not knowing what the future holds, we have to make major, long-term investment decisions every day.

That’s one reason social capital is so important. Having social capital means having a community of people you can trade ideas with. Social connections empower you to question yourself and learn new ideas … enabling you to prepare for the future with confidence.

Now go out and build some social capital! May we suggest a potluck?


More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources to help real estate investors succeed.