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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Public Speaking

I spoke with Shawn Watkins, Bill Tan, and Kaaren Hall at a creative financing seminar yesterday. We had about 100 people turn out and there wasn't an empty seat in the room. Public speaking is a very difficult skill to master. I used to DJ before and during my college years and I learned very quickly that the music I played was directly related to the mood I was in or the energy level I was feeling and in turn it really affected the crowd.

During my first lecture at the seminar, I was extremely tired due to my excitement the night before and the relentless concern that I would either have too much material to cover and run out of time or not enough and not be able to fill my time slot. I should know better by now since I can talk for hours about real estate so any amount of time is not really enough. However, standing in front of a room and wanting to provide quality information takes a lot of effort. Even doing a dry run in my office, timing my prepared lecture didn't help; Trains of thought get derailed, the tracks get switched, questions arise from the audience and ideas suddenly pop into my head.

My first presentation covered some basic skill sets I use in my business every day and the expenses associated with owning rental property. I am very passionate about property management. It is the path I have chosen to financial independence. During my second lecture, which was scheduled to occur after lunch, I decided to speak freely about a few deals I have done and some strategies I like to use. During lunch Bill Tan pointed out that I wasn't my normal self during my first lecture and that I might want to snap out of it and be a little more animated. He said before he speaks, he always says to himself "It's showtime." He reminded me that people are paying money to be there and although it is for the information, it is important to provide some entertainment as well. I knew exactly what he was talking about and I realized what affect my energy level had on the audience.

I did not chose to be a public speaker. It just kind of happened over time. When I was a kid I worked at Kmart and part of my job was doing the Blue Light Special announcements live from the front desk. I guess I did them well because it wasn't long before a few of the other employees asked me to do theirs too. After high school I joined the Navy and being stationed on a ship, periodically I was required to make announcements over the 1-MC which is the ship wide intercom. You don't want to mess up on that because it is not just every crew member on board listening in, the Captain is hearing it too! After the Navy I worked as a DJ doing weddings. Part of my job involved introducing the wedding party and making other announcements during the event. I never had any issues regarding speaking in front of crowds so it was very easy for me to adapt to these situations.

As a real estate investor and (I guess?) public speaker, my first goal every day is to find another house to buy. If, during the course of the day I am asked to speak, I will typically accept. I have only refused on two occasions that I can remember and that was because I wasn't very found of the speaking situations I was asked to be a part of.

I will continue to study and implement creative real estate investing strategies. I currently don't really have any plans on being the next public speaker on the topic. Mostly because, as I mentioned earlier, I am very passionate about what I do and my aversion for certain aspects of this business comes out when I open my mouth. I am also aware that I can be quite abrasive at times. It is not that I think I am right and others are wrong. It is because what I do works for me. If I am asked to speak, I am going to talk about what I do with the same passion I have for what it is that I do. Hopefully, my lecture will be received well at least for the information I provide.

When it comes to studying, as the saying goes, I have enough on my plate already. I must continue learning investing strategies from those more successful than myself. I have stacks of books that I haven't even cracked. My Amazon wish list has 58 books on it. As much as I want to be a better public speaker, I think it is much more important for my business to continue studying the masters and the strategies they use. I'll do my best the next time I am in front of a room, which by the way is Feb 16th at NSDREI in Oceanside (shameless plug). If I come off as too boring or abrasive, I apologize in advance. Remember, you are there for the information and I am not a professional speaker.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Good bye 2009, Hello 2010

If I remember 2009 as anything it will most likely be as a year of challenges and learning. As I look toward the future I can’t help but reflect on the past. 2009 was the year I had my most expensive repair bill on a rental home and understood the meaning of repair expenses; $15,000 to legally hook a property to a sewer line and clean up the spilled sewage from the over flowing and failed septic system. It was the first time I lost money on a deal; approximately $10,000, but I was so happy to get it out of my life and off my books. It was a record breaker for my longest hold; 12 months to finally get a rehab sold to a buyer and when the dust settled I ended up with about $2,500 profit. I also learned why I should buy property within a reasonable driving distance of my office; the property I held for 12 months was out in Palm Springs. It was the year I lost two people I looked up to and relied on for knowledge; Chris Carlson was a local investor and even though we had only met less than a year ago, we spoke almost every day. He was my local go to guy for creative financing and difficult transactioneering. The creative investing community lost a great asset with his untimely passing. Jack Miller was the smartest person I had ever personally met and one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry. My sympathy goes out to all those who never had the honor to sit in one of his seminars and be overwhelmed or attend one of his box wine parties. I learned that Thomas Stanley and William Danko knew what they were writing about after I attended one of those millionaire’s club events.

2009 was full of challenges, but with these come experience and with experience comes knowledge. In 2009 I closed on some of my most creative deals thus far. Always attempting to use what I learn, I purchased several properties with seller financing, one of which has a very favorable interest rate somewhere south of 1%. I also signed my first note with both substitution of collateral and first right of refusal clauses.

As I look forward to 2010 I am grateful for the friendships and connections I have made in this business. It is these that carry me through the difficult times and provide me with the support and encouragement to open another escrow. I am excited about the never ending river of opportunity this business delivers to me each and every day. I wake up energized to answer the phone and check my email for seller leads. I am inspired by the vast creativity I can express using techniques and strategies to acquire, hold and sell real estate. I never thought I could have so much fun with numbers.

2010 looks to be very promising. I doubled my portfolio of rentals in 2009 and hope to continue to grow my rental business even more in 2010. I will continue to avoid the crowds and instead keep buying property from people sellers. While the other investors rush to the court house steps and chase down the REO brokers, I will be quietly perfecting my craft and ensuring that my steady stream of profits will not dry up as the market shifts. I will continue to focus on education and seek out the best speakers on topics I have yet to master. Above all, I will spend time with my wife, pets, and friends. I look forward to 2010, but I’m enjoying today very much.