For a note investors who’s on top, it’s always good to look back on the path you’ve taken ten years ago and realize that it was the road less traveled. You got off from college with a degree that got you the job, you married your college sweetheart, bought a car, and then unexpectedly things turn south. The path may be unclear but you never stopped walking because from these failures will come the success that you’ve been working for. You may feel that right now you’re only working to pay off the bills, but if you think about it, that too is serving a purpose. What’s important is that you learn to keep your focus every time you hit bumps on the road.
Listen to the podcast here:
The Road Less Traveled: Embrace The Suck, Fail Forward And Get On Top
We’re working on some final preparations for Note CAMP that’s upcoming. For those that are interested you can check out NoteCamp.Live. It is always interesting trying to herd 30 plus cats and speakers and some people speaking into another event at the same time, coordinating that to get everybody scheduled in so it’s a win-win for everybody. It looks like it’s being the largest one yet.
Our topic on the Note Closers Show, I had a couple of people that are new to our note family who want to find a little bit more about my journey, how I got into the note business. I look back at my path into the note industry and what’s happened especially in the last decade and definitely I have learned a lot from my failures more than I have from my successes. I grew up in a small South Texas town. My Dad had a local hardware store, so I grew up with an entrepreneur bug. Went off to college, was going to be the next Dan Patrick from ESPN. That changed as I realized I didn’t really want to do that. I get a business degree. I graduated southwest Texas State University. In 2001 married college sweetheart and I went to work. First job out of college was Enterprise Rent-A-Car, that was a big mistake. I quit that after 90 days and went to work for a couple Verizon Wireless, where I was very, very good at that job. Really led pretty much got to state and activations for a while. Made a lot of money working a lot over time with that aspect but was really good at sales. I was interested in finance, so about that time I’d read the book Rich Dad Poor Dad, and that really set off the entrepreneurial fire inside of the bug, I guess you’d say for many people.
I started exploring other things and I had a very good, fortunate, a buddy of mine, Boy Pops. In acquaintance, I guess I sold my cell phone and we got to know each other pretty well. He was teaching young, not really teaching stuff but providing financial education or helping people with their finances, insurance and investment, stuff like that. I was very excited about Rich Dad Poor Dad. We’ve got all that stuff in for, figured out with him and he offered to bringing me aboard, and worked with him a little bit and I was pretty stoked about that. I started doing that in my spare time when I was working still at Verizon Wireless. Next, I left Verizon Wireless, on my birthday actually. I started working with him and I absolutely sucked at it at first. I sucked at it horribly, because I was going from working 60 hours a week, where I had to be there and clients giving me to learning how to go market for my own clients that point. How to go out and talk to people, how to go out and prospect. I wasn’t so good at it to begin with. I got better at it and I got better at it, but after awhile I couldn’t do it. I basically had to take a job. Take a job for awhile just to pay my bills.
I’m so excited when we got Sharon Lechter to speak here at Note CAMP in a couple of weeks, we’re so excited to have her. Could you peel off the hook when I got a chance to meet her a few years back it was awesome. I took a job at a high tech company called Cirrus Logic, friend of my wife gave me the job there and it was making pretty decent money, close to $50,000 grand a year, but I hated the job, it was six months in hell. I worked with engineers all day long and nothing as engineers, but to have a meeting about a meeting for a future meeting. When I was in charge of dealing worldwide sales guys and logistics, they’re not my cup of tea. It served a purpose and by serving a purpose, what I mean by that is that sometimes when you need to pay bills, you’ve got to take a step back. I didn’t give up my dreams. I took a step back from them, but to kind of re-shift my focus to get things settled under me a little bit better, a little more of a better foundation and re-approached my dreams. That’s what happened. Except for we’re getting serious for six months. I reached out and started interviewing in the financial world again because I still had my six in 63, my group on insurance and some other things.
I started interviewing at banks and got hired on at Bank One which it became JPMorgan Chase. I really enjoyed that. I was like a duck to water on a job. Enjoyed talking to people, I enjoyed sharing with them the stuff that I’d learned about finances. I was a top banker here in Austin, perfect scores, secret shopping, great Commission checks, opening accounts, and eventually they put me on this seat of blue, they call it. People go around and open all these different branches here. I really enjoyed that. That was a lot of fun, but I kept realizing that after awhile, just after a year working at JPMorgan Chase that there’s ceiling up there. I could only get to where I want it or they want those that are good, they push you in either management, which I didn’t want to be a manager. They want to put you in commercial banking and I really didn’t want to do that. I really liked the aspect of helping people. I sat down a while back and really drawn out kind of where I wanted to be long term of different things and realized I wasn’t ever getting that in JPMorgan Chase. It was great and wrong. I could get money but I kept wanting to do more.
About the time prior to that, one of the things that really made it difficult for us was in the financial industry when we bought our first home and then at the turn out into our first rental, when my wife took a different job down South Austin. We had our first office that we turned into our first rental. We got really inundated with a lot of things realtor didn’t share with us. There would be all the expenses and I wasn’t financially literate when it came to rentals end. Then we hired a property manager and I think the only person who made any money off that deal was the property manager. We bounced around two houses while they’re renting out our house and it was not a good time. We fell behind on our mortgage. I was a deadbeat borrower at most disparaging moments. I remember literally shaking out the cushions that put some money into the car, driving to work so that we got paid that day so that I run, so then I can then pay for a full tank of gas. I’ve been there and it’s not fun. When the mailman first delivered certified checks to you about your mortgage being late. We had Countrywide Mortgages at first. I’ve been in those shoes. It’s not a fun thing to be in. Fortunately, I started banking. We got our feet together, we started making money and it was a good thing, but still it has had an itch.
Fortunately for me, my buddy Boy and I are still friends, he’d become a mortgage banker at that time. He’d left working at Citibank. He came to me and said, “I am a mortgage banker now, mortgage broker. I hooked up a couple of real estate investors that really love to get you back on board. We’re getting 30 to 40 approved mortgage applications every other weekend and I just don’t have them.” I’m like, “Wow.” I remember going to lunch with him and I met a couple of people. These guys were real estate investors, they were also educators. They were teaching owner-financing, wrap around mortgage, careers financing. As they sit there at lunch, I was really amazed. I remember talking a little more about it and coming home and talking to my wife and realize that’s really where I wanted to go. We decided, “I’ll chase it and go in. I know I can always go back to banking if I need to.” That’s what we did. Two weeks later I was on a plane to LAX and stood in the back of the room at a Ron LeGrand event, listened to a thousand per thousand plus investors there, learning real estate, investing the right way. Selling too, owner financing, options that Ron teaches and then the creative financing and mortgage for basically 40 years. I had an apprenticeship with two very creative individuals in Bob and Jayme. Jayme taught me a lot of great stuff and she was an amazing woman, and still an amazing woman especially when it comes to financing. Bob taught me a lot about marketing, speaking and also about creative finances. Literally I could sit there and pick their brains while I was working on mortgage applications. This is the heyday. Now at this point I’m like, I graduated college in 2001. This is basically about 2008.
I basically learned a lot of stuff. I made a lot of money in the mortgage business. I learned a lot about what to do, what not to do about marketing. Every time I went to an event I always took as many notes as possible. I remember sitting in the back of these room taking copious amounts of notes on different things or coming back home and talking to Bob and Jayme, they had this shelf of books. I said, “Can I take this home for the weekend?” Check something out, just go home and watch it. That was all in the tapes and CDs and DVDs. Then I started going out and knocking on doors, dropping yellow letters off and driving for distressed houses. That was what I did and I got some good to go on my own over that deals that Bob and Jayme started having coaching some of their students. I enjoyed that way to success, I was good in marketing because I understood it now, I understood some of the cool things. Started really doing some cool stuff, travel a little bit and coaching because the mortgage industry slugged out a little bit.
2009 I basically told the boys, “I’m going to leave in the morning.” At that point we had moved into a different office. We’re off a little bit from them starting their own thing and absolutely deal with mortgages but I was spending a lot of time on the road traveling, of course I can’t really do two things and not make as much in the mortgage industry. This is literally the time, the big short. I remember up to when failing. I was like those were the days, this is a big sign I needed to get out the mortgage industry. Sure enough I left the mortgage industry but I started being at real estate full time. After talking to my wife from her job caring for autistic kids. She got a real estate license and we were buying and flipping homes here in Austin. We learned in classes and go out teaching people. I was in it for 32 weeks going out and touching people but also doing stuff here in Austin. Just doing some really great stuff, there was a lot of fun. We’ve got divorced. She decided she doesn’t want to be married anymore and that’s fine. I’m better off for that failure; much better off for that failure.
About a year that I was trying to find myself because when you, I don’t know about you guys ever been through a divorce, have been through a heartbreak like that? It takes a little while for you to kind of readjust, you’re fine and you’re trailing off again. When you are building dreams with somebody and suddenly that half of it is gone or that partner is not there anymore, it makes it really difficult. For a year I basically the most traveled non-stop. I’ve been traveling the road basically 10 weeks, 13 weeks straight at one point because I didn’t want to be home. We got divorced, we sold our house. In Austin I had a house I moved in to, all the rentals and stuff like that, it worked out fine. I started finding myself. I started figuring out what I want to do when things started hitting the fan. In Austin, I stop coaching with Bob and Jayme, I went off on my own because I hadn’t started doing the numbers, it was like stuff I started focusing on my own investments, fix and rentals, flips. Then I bought some couple, bought high end homes here in Austin that we’re worth 300 where the bottom. Over the next nine months in 2011, those properties just wouldn’t sell.
This was 2010, I’m like, “This is not good.” I literally got out of those two deals, signing the property to my investors. Don’t know how to turn it back over to him, write check to him, walked away from him. I remember realizing that I need to focus on things as I was kind of off across more coaching and raising a little bit of capital for funding town and that is also deals, a couple of rentals. I was literally the Jack of all Trades like many real estate investors and then finally thought I spread so thin across the place but I didn’t exist in any of those. I had to have a really big heart to heart talk with myself because I’m watching my account go down. It’s a large effort to one thing and that’s the best thing for me to focus on this huge opportunity we have right now in notes. I literally just started calling dollar for dollar, trying to make lists is not the fondest thing. I’ve burned off a list off of Lane Guide and I started dialing for dollars. I make 50 to 100 phone calls, three days a week. It was really eye opening when you knock out these phone calls to give me some momentum and get rock and rolling and feeling really good about things and you get the list in. I remember getting several of the last one from Wells Fargo Financial with the asset manager Steve. I remember like, “What am I going to do?” I remember the overwhelming feeling of having 32 assets and the price on this ridiculous, 4,000, 5,000 houses. What the hell? I should’ve bought the whole damn tape, but I ended up buying like eight or nine because that’s all I had in my capacity to understand or raise capital for. I started with the note stuff as I’d taken down from my own portfolio. I started flipping those assets, start a wholesale those assets. I bought an asset in Tampa, really getting a contract and but under contract for six and sold them for ten. Now this I can do, so that was basically $4,000. Another thing for another asset may $12,000. Then I did third one that I made $15,000 on. Another one I made a $1,000 on, a little piece of crap.
What I was getting at is that I had to learn how to take what the list they came in, and I started leveraging my database from all those real estate events I’ve gone to. All the people I’ve met, I always take the business cards and put it in a spreadsheet, was one of the things I did always before going to bed. Business cards in, let’s put them in my database, and this is before Evernote where I’m literally typing into a spreadsheet. The thing you’ve got to keep in mind is I started marketing on a regular basis to things. I started marketing out to people, “Hear you got some assets here in this area.” I would use Postlets. Postlets is a free website allows you to create great websites for your properties. I had a business partner, a realtor here that went south and I was basically on my own. I’m like, “I can handle this.” I’m not seeing much stuff here in Austin. I had things in here and memories with being married, stuff like this. I just got to get out of town.
I literally decided I’m going to leave town. Honestly it came to me one night while watching a commercial of 30 tickets, $5 for a hot dog, $6 for a beer, spending time with the kids at every baseball game, priceless. What if I were to do that? I had been in some blogs, but starting to market on Facebook and things like that. I said, “I’m a huge baseball fan. I always love to go around and see all the ballparks.” I literally pull up the schedule online, and map out all the different cities and ballparks across the country. If I were to start traveling, then kickoff of this Major League baseball season, where would I go? We were like 27 weeks, well literally just an idea. I bring it down literally it’s amazing, it’s so amazing when you write something down, you think about something and write it down, you talk about it. Sometimes things happen, that’s throwing divine intervention. I’m a big believer and that’s exactly what happened with me. It is good Lord’s tell me about mini state kids hustling. Sure enough over the next literally the week and a half, I had four real estate investment clubs called me or emailed me. They’re like, “We saw your blog about note investing. We’d like to add it to our blog, our monthly newsletter. We would also like to see about having you come out and speak.” I’m like, “Come on, speak. Okay, all right. Sure.” I’d put together a couple of classes and some small note events in twenty people, 40 people, teaching a little bit about the note business. That was okay but it wasn’t exactly as I planned. Sure enough, over the next few weeks I had more people, more investors that reached out to me. I was like, “I’m going to do this.” I would look at those dates that they want me to come to speak to them and I’ll go back to my baseball park journey dates with fall in when I was at those cities anyway. I remember looking at him like, “I needed this literally with my house to spend and sell everything.” Over two weekends I had garage sales for basically everything in my house except the dog and me and Princess then jumped into our truck. Literally the first of April and drove to Dallas.
I was speaking with the Dallas Club up there. I stayed with a friend. I went to my first ball game there that aren’t in, and it proceeded from there. I went to New Orleans and spoke with the New Orleans Club. From there, I went down to Alabama and then over to Florida and literally for three years nonstop. Literally nonstop I travelled. I can tell you that I learned more in that time of being on the road than I have at any other time. I made a lot of great friends and pull deals; just literally had faith in myself. People thought it was crazy. My mom said, “When are you going to get a real job?” Because they can see me down in my financial point, in my low point and then like, “When are you get a real job? When you get back to banking, you’re so good at that. Why don’t you go back and get a job with benefits?” I was like, “Mom, you have no idea.” In that timeframe, it’s my low point. I’ve gotten notes from Capital One, when we flipped an apartment complex, wholesale department note in literally 24 hours, made $35,000. Then wholesaled another big tape and made $50,000 on with my part. Literally there were deals they were starting to put together. I knew I could do this and I believed in myself. I wasn’t afraid of failure. I could eat ramen for 30 days straight if I need to. There was a point where I was eating ramen and peanut butter sandwiches for almost 30 days straight during the tough times.
I look back at those times and realized a lot of great things to happen. I said, “I made a name for myself.” As I started traveling, I started teaching a little bit more. I offered up was a little bit more workshops, four days. Then people came to me and said, “Would you mentor me?” I’m like, “I’ll start mentoring you.” I would go out and spend four days with him, one on one and that was very intense. Most people couldn’t handle Scott Carson for four days. They can handle him coming in and helping them put their business in place and then let’s start calling banks. I remember seeing one guy in Indiana. He used in one-on-one and was making phone calls and I was in the other room. I knocked out 40 phone calls in two hours. I walked in his room and he’s snoring and made one. I was pissed. It’s like, “Forget it. You’re not going to make phone calls. I’m not going to make phone calls. We’re done. I’ll see you later.” The thing you’ve got to realize is not everybody’s going to work as hard as you do guys. Nobody can take you serious. You have to be serious about what you want to accomplish. All will believe in you until you believe in yourself. I’ve had some really cool things happen. I got asked to speak at this event in San Diego. Through there I met Sandy Shaner and also have a class out San Diego. Sandy was working for me and she invited Greg Reid to speak at the event, asked me if I could have it, like, “Yes.” Greg’s become a good friend and mentor. Then Greg got me out to his Secret Knock event and I ended up being a sponsor for that. Meeting Les Brown, Sharon Lechter, Forbes Riley, Frank Shankwitz and all sorts of great things. There have been some fun things along the way. Went out to Noteworthy for the first time and saw that, and then eventually was asked to speak there. Then trying to help Jack get that thing up and going. There was a period in time where we were basically providing half to two thirds of the attendees in Noteworthy.
Then we went out start doing our own thing. One of the most telling events that I can remember, that really helped me out, is that Secret Knock. Every year, Greg has a thing called the Tub of Love. Frank Shankwitz was just starting his speaking career. There were five of us that basically go on the Tub of Love, one year we’re going to finalize off who the who. I said, “Let’s not do that. Let’s just give it to Frank. Let’s help Frank with the success. It’s literally over $100,000 worth of stuff and $10,000 in cash. We literally, the five of us get into Frank. That was a way of business. That was speaking out from there. Frank’s been a friend ever since then, and Greg has been such a great, phenomenal mentor and person I can reach out to, I did. He’s helped me out tremendously in a lot of things. I look back for the last ten years and there’s absolutely been an amazing, amazing time. It’s been amazing a whole lot of people that we helped mentor and other people that be out here looked at some of the names of the people are familiar with. They go but Robby Woods, Chase Thompson, Kimberly Banks Fawcett, Wayne Snell, Jay Tenenbaum, Adam Adams, Gail Greenberg, a lot of these people they’re out doing amazing things. We have helped them get their names started because we mentor them and show them the ropes, but show them how do what they need to do.
It’s always been seeing how people react over time. We’ve always prided ourselves. Decide to give a big shout out to Stephanie. Who became my assistant originally. After I fired a couple and she saw me struggling, she helped out because stuff’s real. It’s level out a lot of things over the last five years. Stephanie, thank you so much. You haven’t had a chance to meet Stephanie; you’re missing out. She is phenomenal at what she does is the glue that holds everything together here. That’s probably one of the most important things is the stating me back five years ago. Traveling events and things like that. Really has been a shooting star to help us really get the rock girl so big, big kudos to her. You’ve got to have a good team in place. I found that eventually when I thought I was buying assets and I didn’t have a team to help me support because I was traveling so much. I was getting people come on and help out and a lot of little things and that was the most important.
I would highly recommend it to you guys at the point where you get the 30 notes or more, you’re going to need to hire somebody. Either part-time or full-time, depending on what you’re doing, to help organize your documents and organize what’s going on, to give you the freedom to give you a little bit of time back to your schedule, so you can go out and do the important things. My biggest mistake I think have helped me be a better teacher, leader, better educator and also a much better investor; the whole aspect of being focused. I have been down the road before where you’re trying to do six things and it just doesn’t work. When I’m not talking to Real Estate Investment Club, let’s see the pain in investor experiences where they’re struggling? They’re trying to make money in any way they can and they’re so desperate that they’ll often listen to the loudest voice, rumors that actually working through things. People coming across a lot of people that get rich quick or you can do everybody can do this or that. You got to take some time to know and look at things. I’ll tell you right now, but none of this is not for everybody. If you’re brand new to real estate investment, it’s probably not the best place for it because there’s such a learning curve with mortgages and other things. We’ve had a lot of education out there and that’s one of things that I was promised that I would do. It’s so fortunate early on to have that apprenticeship and learned so much from it. I have always promised to help out those in some form or fashion. That’s why we do so much with the video, so going to do as much of the education aspect of competent in our past and present military first responders, to our first full mobile workshop. We love our mastermind group because I’ve been up more for people, different groups that were supposed to be in the mastermind, working through closing deals and then closing a single deal and that’s just a waste of time.
I want our students closing deal, let on our mastermind members taking deals down and we can close that first deal. You build so much more faith inside of what you’re doing. It’s a phenomenal site to see that a lot, the eyes popping in the face and seeing people circle off a little bit different, like I’m caged cats was service to the investors, walks differently now than they did four years ago. I’m just very proud of the people that we’ve helped. I’m proud of the successes we’ve had. I’m proud of the failures. Our event, Note CAMP, spawned from failure of an event together in Houston that canceled because nobody signed up for it. After $25,000 in marketing costs, that’s a hard price to swallow. Calling up balls because is not going to jump on a plane, they’ll come on. I’ll stay home or cancel that. It’s just not worth being here. The respect that I gained from a lot of the speakers there, that’d be given really good friends. My journey in the last five years and ten years has had its ups and downs. It’s had its peaks. It’s had its value. It had its great things, it’s had its negative things, but I would not change many things. I wouldn’t change getting divorced, I wouldn’t change 100 those financial difficulties on the front end because I’m not afraid to fail. Those things helped build more character than anything else. I had been through foreclosure. I had a car reposed. I was taking over payments on a nice truck from my younger nephew and pay ins to him and he wasn’t paying the underlying payment. That led me to going out and buying a note on a truck from night and taking the truck back.
When you have faith in yourself, there are not too many things that people could say to scare you. I’m not scared of really much of anything. I don’t like snakes. I don’t like snakes at all. This whole thing, I hate snakes, but I’m not scared of failure. I’m not scared of overcoming obstacles. I’m not scared to look at things, “Let me figure out a way to get this done.” Because the beautiful thing about the note business is there are so many ways to approach it. There’s so many ways to find deals. There’s so many ways to raise capital, so many different exit strategies with your assets. It’s hard to fail in notes unless you just don’t do anything. That’s what I see in what aggravates me a long time. To see so many people that have so many options, so many opportunities and they just won’t get off their ass to go do it. That’s the thing that frustrates me the most, when I see something as an opportunity who has an amazing opportunity to make something happen, to get the word out, to raise capital, or to market, and they just don’t do it. That’s what drives me insane. That was what makes me just so furious, especially when they have all the gifts and the tools, friends and family who will support them and they just don’t get off their ass to do it.
My journey, guys and gals, I could go in a lot more detail, we don’t have all day. I don’t remember exactly who asked to. Hopefully that’s helped you out to give you an idea of some things. I started doing this, like I teach, I started making phone calls to asset managers and did it on a repeat basis and started to market and started to email to them. This is a nuts and bolts business that sprung up over the last ten years. Nuts and bolts have been doing the same thing on a regular basis. Don’t get a rocket science to do this. It’s not rocket science. Asking a lot of people that are dumber than me make it, make money in this business and that’s quite all right because I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but my elevator is go all the way to top. As in the words of the A Team, “If you give me an hour, I’m pretty good.”If you give me a day, I’m damn good, if you give me a week, I’m unstoppable. You are not going to beat me. That’s the way I look at it. Guys and gals, this business is amazing. Yes, is it changing? It totally is. A lot of changes are taking place in the industry. I think for the good. I think we’re going to see a lot of shakeup in the next 24 months. A lot of people getting out of the business, which is completely fine by me. They weren’t expecting it to be in the business to begin with anyway. I will be in this long, long run. It’s my business. I love what I do. I love how we help people, not only investors, but also our borrowers and really help make America great one mortgage at a time.
I’m totally humbled that you guys listen to this, which is always really great as well. Are you guys going to be struggling with the hurdles in their business? Any ideas? Need some help and ideas how to overcome those things? I remember literally the biggest thing is I just had this one of the hardest times was I did not want to say fail at one thing. I remember sitting there, I had these last two properties that I was upside down on it. The other one a tenant in place in the AC just blew up. I’m like, “I don’t have the $5,000 to fix the AC,” because the home warranty company wasn’t going to do it. I remember going to my investors and said, “We’ve got to replace the AC. I don’t have the capital for this or the money for it. I need you to help me out with this. Otherwise, I’m going to have to sign the property over to you.” He’s like, “Just sign the property over to me.” I’m like, “Really?” He goes, “Just sign it over to you. If you can’t handle it, you’re not doing the right thing.” I’m like, “Yes, please.” I remember signing those two deals over to my investors and feeling this huge weight off my back. It gave me a little bit of freedom to breathe, a little bit of freedom to go forward. Sometimes we’d better do that. Don’t hold on to properties that are dead weight, don’t hold on to things. I’ll do that more so because we don’t want to admit defeat, but sometimes it’s okay to lose a battle as long as you win the war. Every deal is a battle of some sort, and sometimes you’re going to win, sometimes you’re going to lose, sometimes you’re going to break even. Sometimes it’s better just to walk away, take a little bit of losses than have a major loss. Keep that in mind in you note business. I’ve had an interesting journey and it’s going to even be more interesting over the next ten years. Go out, make something happen. I look forward to getting on the top. Have a great day.