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Be the First Penguin

On Mentors, Bravery, and Life Challenges

I find myself writing so many articles in the Real Estate space and, from time to time, I catch myself and the need to work on other areas like:

The mental space between the ears

Discipline

Mentors

So much of what we will all accomplish has to do with what’s between your ears (mental game) and having the right mentor, coach or group (like our Wicked Smart Investor Community) to connect and communicate with.

Catapulting with the Right Coach

I was reminded recently about one of my coaches who was incredibly effective for me. His name was Tim, way back in 1995 to 2000. Tim always pushed me hard in March. He pushed me to prospect, network, and generally work hard. Why in March? Because I was a real estate broker way back then, and all of that work during the spring set up my entire summer season of earning—if I did it properly.

I suggest you do the same with whatever business you’re in and literally whichever season you’d like to use for momentum. For example, if you push very hard with from January through May. Then do it again from June through October. These are what I refer to as well-timed, laser focused sprints and easier to work on when you chunk them down like that. It has the ability to truly set up the entire next year. Don’t worry about your results this month or this quarter. It’s irrelevant to what you’re doing this month or quarter. Do worry about sticking with the game plan you put in place that predictably kind of leads you to – If you do ABC, you’ll get the results you want. Just stick with that and over time the average will go up and down, but it will happen. Once you find a niche or system to run with inside of your business or job, don’t deviate, just find the predictability in it and keep doing it.

Let me give you an example in our business of buying and selling real estate. This past month we took one property and sold three properties. Now on the surface you think, That’s dismal! You guys have been in business for a while! It doesn’t matter. In this current month, we’ll probably sell four and take five or six new homes under contract. Why? We just keep doing the same activities. The end result will be the same, over time—on average. We know this because we track our numbers, which then enables us to predict and project with certainty. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in – find the metrics that dictate what you do to produce positive results for your business or your boss, then find someone to show you how to scale that and profits or pay will follow.

I want to paraphrase for you a great article that Denis Waitley wrote called The Power of the Right Coach. I hope you’ll also grab onto this idea of hiring your own coach or mentor and creating the lifestyle that you deserve.

The Value of a Mentor

I talk a lot about designing your lifestyle. This is what it’s all about. It’s really a very simple concept. You find someone who is where you want to be or has been there. You find someone who has traveled the path you want to travel. You then connect with them and coach with them. Ask them to mentor you. Bam. That’s it. Ireally don’t care if you’re opening a restaurant, starting a hot dog stand, striving toget promoted or investing in stocks or real estate – this concept works.

I’ll give you a good example. Bill Gates used to speak with Warren Buffett—for years. I don’t know if he still does it. I’m assuming they still do this, but he used to speak with Buffett every single day. A coach not only gives you the strength you need to succeed—we all need and want that—but the coach is also in your face in apositive way with the feedback that you need to adjust your path as you go.

I’m a big advocate of getting on a plane or getting in a car and going to see a mentor if possible. So let me tell you another story about Tim. I was out at Tim’s house once in Big Bear, California, where he lived on the lake. We were going for a jog. (At the time, we both did a lot of running now my aging knees won’t let me.) Tim’s probably a good 15–18 years older than I am. I was talking to him about how I’m going to expand my brokerage and open other branches and he just stopped. He put his arm out, stopped me dead in my tracks running and said, Why do you want to do that? He went on to tell me—and I’m standing in the middle road, stopped during a run—why that’s going to be a waste and an energy drain and will create more headaches. Wow. That was so ridiculously positive as I look back now. I would never have sold several years later to Coldwell Banker like I did. I would still have been in the trenches and probably creating a bunch of overhead with very little net return on investment, proportionate to what we put in.

Let me give you a different example. We always do what we call ACAA. What does it mean? It means we get into action. That’s the first A. Then we critique our action—that’s the C. Then we adjust based on that critique—that’s the next A. Then we take action—the last A. So it’s “action, critique, adjust, action.” Notice I didn’t say “action, critique, I quit.” It’s action, phone call (for example). Critique the phone call live. Adjust the script based on the critique and go take action again. This is a constant, never-ending process, and if you practice ACAA , you cannot get off trackover time. Frankly, if you practice it with anything you won’t get off track. Just a simple but effective “Chris-ism” I’ve utilized since around the year 2001. Just like mentors, this works with any job or business. Notice that I didn’t say A, C …quit. This takes constant Action, Critique, Adjust, Action.

ACAA

Now it’s certainly no secret that most outstanding achievements and absolutely incredible comebacks have been the result of an individual whose motivation to persist under any and all circumstances was influenced at some level by a coach ormentor. These coaches and mentors provide a correctional device to keep you on task. I use ACAA as my acronym, but they all do this, whether they’re doing it consciously or not. Picture yourself as this missile going along and needing some adjustments here and there in order to hit your bullseye as you navigate the watersof real estate, your job or anything else. Heck, you can do it for your workouts too.

Since 1995, I’ve never been without a coach—and sometimes two or three at a time. I’m talking business, personal, physical, nutritional, marketing, you name it. Coaching fees from the 1990s until now have ranged anywhere from $200 to $2,000 a month for generic programs. Then there’s the Mastermind groups and other higher-level organizations. It brings us to a whole other level.

Let me give you another example. I want to put real life into this as much as I can. In 2015, I was part of a Mastermind group that cost $25,000 to be a member of. Doyou think there’s probably some really cool people in that group if they had to pay $25,000? Sure, they had to write that check before they could even show up in the room. Some people might call this crazy, but the reality is that our team is going to learn directly from that Mastermind. We are going to profit—and already have—multi-millions from this association, from direct takeaways, indirect takeaways, from contacts made there. I could bullet point a list as long as my arm.

So who are you associating with? Who are you mentoring with? And what are you willing to pay in order to achieve all your goals? Well, I would do that after I earn more, you’re thinking. Nope, wrong order. Get resourceful and find a way to get it done now.

How Do You Choose a Mentor?

Make sure they have a history of success. Now this sounds obvious, but let me say something that’s probably not going to be as obvious, and some people may have an issue with. I have looked back at my coaches and many of them have had some failures that have significantly strengthened their ability to succeed, and thus theirability to coach me to succeed.

In addition to picking a coach based on their ability to achieve goals similar to yours, choose mentors who in the process have overcome some of the same obstacles that you’re facing or that you think you may face. To go back to Denis Waitley, he says, Seeing your mentors today is like seeing what you intend to be. Make sure you’re watching out for that in your potential mentor.

Challenges Turned Into Successes

In 2008, during my debacle, the national real estate market crash, I remember reading one piece in particular. Now don’t take this as a political statement in any shape, form or fashion because this was 2008—but Donald Trump’s book Never Give Up: How I Turned My Biggest Challenges into Successes is absolutely a cool book to read. I enjoyed it, probably because he went through many lessons over hisyears in business. Again, I’m not talking about anything remotely related to politics. It was especially timely for me back in ‘08 to read it during the real estate market that most people will agree was dismal. There are so many opportunities out there now that it’s absolutely ridiculous, and during that time there were certainly opportunities. I didn’t see them because I was knee deep in crap, but nowI see them and now I’m poised to go ahead and be even better positioned for the next downturn. There will be one. It’s not if, it’s when. Will you be ready?

We simply need to change our focus and stop hanging onto what the media is touting about how the markets are doing, if you’re in real estate or any other business or profession that gets the ripple from real estate changes or any changesthat can effect you. Yes, I got beat up during that 2008 debacle, but I can tell you now, my entire business, the way we run it today, the financials, the refusal to sign personally and get bank loans, the complete re-engineering of the business, is totally different. Everything is because of the 2008 debacle, so that’s why I emphasize that challenges can be turned into successes and we all can be better because of them. In my first best selling book, I outlined the story and how we adjusted because of it.

Never Give Up

Don’t settle for remaining in your comfort zone. Remaining complacent is a certainsure-fire way to get absolutely…nowhere.

What is your comfort zone? Just give this some thought. Whatever zone that you’vedefined in your mind with that question is going to be your ceiling. That’s a scary thought, so expand your thinking.

Expand Your Thinking: Read, Read, Read!

How can you expand your thinking? How about getting books that get you thinkingoutside your box? I look around my office here. I see Showboats Magazine; big, large, expensive multi-million dollar boats. Do I want to go out and buy a sailboat tomorrow? No. I have no interest in going for a boring (in my opinion) sail. However, I do have an interest in knowing how and why these people do what they do and how they think and how they designed a lifestyle by choice.

Robb Report is another one. A book called The Magic of Thinking Big, which I readseveral times since—I’m going to date myself here—I was on my honeymoon in 1986 when I first read it. You cannot read these things, and a whole bunch of otherthings that I’m not mentioning here, without thinking bigger. You just can’t.

I’m about 20 pages away from finishing McDonald’s: Behind the Golden Arches. Now if you want to read a book that can and should expand your mind, that’s a great one. I don’t care if you’re selling popcorn. I don’t care if you’re out buying one home every quarter, that book will get you thinking. Ray Kroc started with absolutely nothing, struggled through two, three, four, maybe more failures and then just built an empire. Read the book. You have to read the book.

Be Passionate

Another point that comes up with almost every guest I have on the smartrealestatecoachpodcaset.com is that they all have passion. My thought is very simple on this. If you love what you’re doing, it won’t seem like work. I don’t say I’m going to work. I say I’m going down to the office. I just love doing what we do. I recently refocused a lot of my energy, for example, on the coaching side of ourbusiness with students and partners all over the Country. My team, which is our kids, is now 100% running the buying and selling side, except for the financial aspect. They’re doing all the prospecting. They’re going on appointments. They’re handling the buyers. They’re handling the paperwork—everything. Are you doing what you want to do right now? Let me just bullet a few other points I invite you to think about, in no particular order.

Be Focused

Ask yourself this: What should I be thinking about right now? Shut out the interference and think about that. It could be because in this age of multitasking, this is a valuable technique to get good at—refocusing, being focused in general, and time blocking. For example, I don’t take incoming calls if I’m sitting here doingoutgoing. Why? I have no idea who’s calling. I’m not in control. It messes up my time. For you to jump every time the phone rings or every time an email comes in is absolutely insane, so make sure you focus.

Put a sticky note or an index card on your computer that says Is what I am doing right now moving me closer to my goals? That’ll get you thinking. That’ll keep you focused. Keep your momentum. Don’t procrastinate. Did you ever notice a few good things happening in your life or your business and then all of a sudden, it kept snowballing? Scary. Scary good. Did you ever happen to experience that goingin the opposite direction? Let’s build upon your successes. In other words, see yourself as victorious. If you see yourself as victorious, it’s going to focus you in the right direction.

Read every single book you can get your hands on about the law of attraction—thatis, using visualization and affirmation to change your life. I love Zero Limits, by my friend Dr. Joe Vitale, and the entire series of books that came after it (you can hear the interview I did with Joe on my podcast and we even created a 31 day program together called The 31 Day Billionnaire). One of the reasons I got on a plane to go see him a few years ago is because of that book. In it you’ll also find your way to other authors and speakers that are within the same realm.

Be Lucky

Be lucky. I know that sounds wacky, but this was in the back of the index of a book I recently read. The old saying, The harder I work, the luckier I get, is absolutely right.

Look at the Solution, Not the Problem


We had plenty of challenges in real estate in 2008, and we learned as we moved forward. If we had sat and whined and listened to others and listened to the media, we’d be whining for years to come. Instead, weactually refocused on solutions, new ideas, and moving forward.

Since starting our reengineered and redesigned terms and investment business in the real estate world back at the beginning of 2013, even though we’d been working in real estate for 21 or 22 years prior to that, we have made mistakes. What do we do about those mistakes? We say, How much did that cost us? How didthat happen? What can we do to fix it so it doesn’t happen again? Do we have to change any of our forms internally, our checklists, our agreements with the attorneys? What is it that we have to do to only focus on solutions? And as a result,our businesses is rock solid. We’re able to share that with our associates who don’thave to go through the same mistakes. I’m not saying they’re never going to make one, but if and when they do, they have the answer at their fingertips.

Be the First Penguin

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.

I read that expression in Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, and it stuck with me soI’ve been repeating it over and over again. It’s a phrase worth considering, in particular when you hit a curveball—when you hit a brick wall or a challenge. It is absolutely true that with every disappointment and at every roadblock this experience thing is what creates absolute, breakthrough industries, breakthrough ideas, breakthrough movements, and in my case, breakthrough re-engineering of our business. I’d even say that some breakthrough professions have been made this way in the real estate world, because it’s constantly changing, I think it’s super important to keep at your forefront. Maybe put this on another index card ora sticky for your computer. It’s also a reminder for us all that failure is not just acceptable, it’s absolutely essential.

In The Last Lecture there was a story about this professor who gave his students a First Penguin Award. The award went to the student or the team that took the biggest gamble in trying new ideas or new technology while failing to achieve their goals. Think about that. He has an award out for those taking the chance, taking the gamble and failing.

It actually enabled them to celebrate that out-of-the-box thinking that I always refer to. These students used their imagination in a daring, thought-provoking way.

When penguins are about to jump into the water that likely contains predators, oneof them’s got to be the first penguin in, right?

The first person who failed at their project for this class got that award. I think you’d agree that the person who failed now knows how to avoid those future failures. The person who knows only success can do what? They’re more oblivious to all the pitfalls. This brings us back to the point that you should be careful when you pick your mentors.

Can I attest to this personally? Yes, I can. After being in the real estate business in some shape, form or fashion since 1991, I was still able to make about 15 or 20 large mistakes in 2005, and some that made my 2007–08 quite miserable. Then I spent three and a half years trying to fix all of that. As a result, my wife, Kim and I were in a position by the end of 2012—and clearly for the foreseeable future—to not just experience our best years ever, but to also have the best experiences. We are simply amazed at the healthy, productive, profitable, and fun culture that we’recurrently aligned with—by choice—with our family and everything we do in our business.

I’m not bummed about the 2008 market, in hindsight. In the lessons we learned and the millions of dollars we lost and the costly things we went through and the subsequent lessons, I’m ecstatic beyond belief that some of my partners and investors have stuck with us, but I’m even more ecstatic about what we learned and adjusted as a result. Likewise, don’t get down on yourself when you have a curve ball thrown at you – just ACAA your way through it.

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