Today’s post is a little different than those of the past. This is a story that has bothered me since it happened, and I think it is important to share. Feel free to critique it in the comments.
When I do something, I tend to go all-in. Real Estate investing was no different. In the beginning, I searched and visited properties ad nauseum but never pulled the trigger. I created so many excuses to NOT do a deal that I wound up in the familiar state of analysis paralysis. Once I finally pulled the trigger and did my first deal, I realized that all my objections were nothing more than worst case scenario fears. I closed my very first deal on December 31, 2007. Once I realized that the prospect of real estate investing wasn’t as scary as expected, I quickly did several more deals in 2008 and beyond. At this point, I fancied myself as a proper real estate investor. I continued to read everything I could find on the subject and seek out as many mentors as I could find. This led me to join the local Real Estate Investors Association. These were monthly meetings of as many as 80 people who were interested in the business of real estate investing.
These meetings usual began by passing the microphone around the room and having each attendee introduce themselves and give their quick elevator speech on what they are looking to do in the real estate space. It was encouraged to mention how many deals you have done to date as part of your speech. I attended several months of these meetings and was very surprised to see that approximately 75% of the attendees had never done a single deal. They were mired in the same analysis paralysis that plagued me for all those years. This fact surprised me but didn’t bother me at the time. Everyone is entitled to their curiosity.
After about a year of these meetings, during the elevator speech portion one woman that I had never seen before stood up and gave her speech. She very proudly announced to the group that that very day she had closed on her first deal ever. She was prodded to give the details of the deal and she shared the neighborhood, specifications of the house and details of the deal. It was clear that she paid very close to retail price for her deal. As the microphone continued to get passed around the room, many of the other attendees referenced her deal and beat up on the details suggesting that she made a very bad deal. This was a deal that fit her budget, was going to turn a small profit monthly and give her the important lessons that buying my first deal did for me. The negative reinforcement continued throughout the remainder of the introductory period. I could see that this woman was taking the criticism very seriously and was doubting herself for not only doing the deal but for joining this group as well.
When the group took a break about mid-way through the session, I sought out this person and congratulated her on her deal. She quickly rolled her eyes and assumed I was being sarcastic. At that point I asked her if she listened to the elevator speeches of the rest of the participants. Not surprisingly, all she heard was the negativity that was levelled at her deal. I reminded her that the huge majority of the attendees had never done a single deal. By pulling the trigger on her first deal, she was already ahead of 75% of these so-called experts in the business. We discussed the deal in a little more depth, and I reassured her that while experience may have led her to an even better deal, she pulled the trigger, acquired a profitable investment property and began her path in this business.
As the program was set for resume, I gave her my business card and told her to reach out if she ever had any questions or could help her in any way. Over the next year, she and I spoke two or three times as she encountered things that she wasn’t familiar with and I was so happy that I had made the effort to speak with her that first day. If that experience led her to continue in the real estate investment business, then I did what I would consider to be a great service. If she realized that this was not the business for her, then I still consider myself as having done a great service. The end result is for her experiences to lead to her decision and not allow the talking heads to judge her when most of them having ever put themselves out there themselves.
This story has recurred to me more and more often lately as social media takes over our lives and I witness this type of behavior growing. When I am faced with this type of situation, I try to shut out the noise and make my own decisions. When I need advice, I try to seek out those who are actual experts in a certain space. We live in a time with an unprecedented amount of opportunities for communication and crowdsourcing of knowledge, but these types of negative encounters have the opposite impact.