Life has its ups and downs. No doubt about that. Try working for yourself for three decades and you’ll know real fast. There is time of plenty and time of want. We have experienced both and this summer is proving to be another exciting time of facing such challenges head on in faith.
Last fall, after years of dealing with a professional battle of tremendous proportions, I made the decision for a career change. The battle I had waged wasn’t over, but I was done fighting it out in that arena. As an entrepreneur I had learned long ago that my career would likely follow the path of the many others before and like me. One thing would lead to another, and then another, and maybe another…and then one day it would finally land me where I needed to be.
For me, I believe I am living in that moment now.
Because of the egregious acts of a company I contracted with as an independent agent called Conestoga Trust, led by the scandalous likes of executives Hector DeLeon and Michael McDermott, I was basically forced out of business without much choice to go on. (I am not even at liberty to share all the goodies publicly, but buy me a beer and I promise you one heck of story of Hollywood proportions).
After two years of prayer and debate, my former business partner and I, long time friends, decided to go on the offensive and drop a huge ass lawsuit on their front door just a few weeks ago. (If only I could have been a fly on the wall as they were served those papers.) God knows what the result will be, but my name was ruined, my career taken from me and my livelihood and finances turned completely upside down. They misled me, then threw me under the bus and me and my family paid for it dearly. It’s time they pay us back and what a relief it was to make that decision! I am thankful God brought us an amazing attorney to help us proceed at the least cost possible too.
I wish I could say my self-employment career has been a straight line of success. But for most like me, the journey is one that includes many twists, turns, betrayals, bankruptcies, and more losses than wins. I’m not ashamed of it either. Most people take the path of least resistance and work for another and I get that. Trust me. There are times when I ask myself why in the hell I didn’t. I’m tired of getting the rug pulled out from under me.
But the strength of us entrepreneurs is we rise up and carry on. And so are we.
Our 4th child, and second adopted son, Zane, has been home now for 8 months and for the last 6 months of that time frame I have been working like a mad man on something new. Something that is more me than anything ever before. Something Julie and I can do together, that can create a lasting legacy for those I love financially and professionally. I have never been more excited in my entire life. I have started and run businesses since I was in my teens. Many have failed and some have been pretty darn successful – at one point I had a business that had 60+ employees and revenues of about $5,000,000 a year. But like many entrepreneurs I made some bad decisions and in the end didn’t have much to show for it.
I have had to borrow money from family. Friends have stepped in a supported us.
It has been hell at times. Pure hell.
But God always has a plan and I certainly have my “why”.
I recently got to spend 2 solid days in Phoenix, AZ, with a room full of very successful and experienced men and women in the real estate investing world. Some were making well into seven figures and most others were running their REI business full time. I was beyond excited, having launched into this arena myself at the end of 2016, to be around people really doing it day in and day out. No internet hype. No sales pitch. No gimmicks. Real people, making real money doing something that frankly is REALLY hard.
The very first speaker of the summit, Kent Clothier, told us frankly that money better not be the reason for seeking success. It better be about something bigger than yourself. He too had at one time seen success and watched it fall nearly over night. He asked us to consider our “why”. Define it. Know it. Study it. Think about it. Pray about it.
Why were we all entrepreneurs? Why were we ok with getting kicked in the groin time and time again only to stand back up and go back at it? Why had we decided to jump into one of the most hotly competitive business worlds ever, real estate? Why?
I came home and chewed on that for days. Sure money…being able to pay the bills….was important. Having enough to enjoy a Disney trip or Vegas trip here and there would be fantastic, and having enough to give extra to our church is vital, and having enough to attend my Cowboys games each fall was practically top of the list.
But in the end none of that will do. Motivation lasts for a moment. A real why lasts forever and I needed to pin that down. The why becomes the what and the what leads to the how. A+B=C.
Legacy. That’s my why. And legacy starts with my family…my wife and my kids. Taking care of my parents and those I love means more to me than anything I could go buy or do. Seeing the joy on their faces as we walk along the beach, or walk through the streets of Seoul in a future homecoming trip just light my world.
Memories are an investment all to their own. I am blessed beyond words to have already had many great ones both as a kid thanks to my parents and as an adult with my family. But I want more. I want my legacy to be more about what we did, who we helped and the lives we touched than anything else.
Real Estate investing (wholesaling, wholetaling and flipping homes) is WAY harder than you ever see on TV or hear on the radio. As a matter of fact, it is nothing like that at all. It is by far the hardest business I have ever started from the ground up. The amount of stuff you need to know, do and put in place is unreal.
Especially when it’s basically you doing it all. Mailers, data mining, creating direct mailers, website content, Facebook and Google advertising, education, documentation, answering calls, follow up systems, working with title companies and attorneys, dealing with lien issues, mortgage companies and emotional family members, negotiating with sellers, finding buyers, analyzing comps, repair estimates, and rehab profit potentials, KIPs and reporting, call tracking software, setting up and training virtual assistants. raising capital (yea, try asking people to invest with you when you have never had to before…that’s real fun), networking and building relationships with others…..and I better stop there. I think you get it. You really want to do this now? It’s no TV show.
So my why better be big. It better get me up in the morning keep me moving throughout the day.
God gives us opportunities. He will make the path in front of us clear, if we seek Him and ask Him to. But He isn’t gonna walk us down the path to victory. He will walk with us…but not for us.
I started this year with Proverbs 16:3 as my verse for the year. I have given this to Him completely. And yes there have been times when I have taken it back and gotten scared, worried, and felt completely powerless and overwhelmed. But overall, He has led me into the discovery of amazing things, not only about this business, but about who He is and what He wants from me. I have a long way to go on both fronts.
I do believe I will look back one day, on that perfect day, standing on the balcony at a Disney World resort preparing for a day of amazing fun with the family, and humbly smile at how God did what He always seems to do. Take something bad and turn it into something good.
I know I can do this. This is me. It’s hard yet it’s fun. It’s fast paced, intense, and competitive. You better be good at everything – reporting, marketing, negotiations, sales, business management and administration. If you aren’t the odds are stacked against you.
But one day I will stand on that balcony with my why’s in hand and others will be running the show for me. I will have arrived and I will be fully devoted to that legacy.
I may be 47 closing in on turn #4 on the way to 50. But, many successful business men hit their stride about then too. I’m not done yet. And my why’s make the what alot easier.
Now I get why the why is so important. Let’s go do this.