90 Minutes To Complete Domination

In last week’s post, we discussed the importance of having BIG and FAT reasons to achieve any lasting change.

We chatted about comfort being the enemy.  You can’t just “want” to achieve “financial freedom” or “the perfect family/kids” or “physical fitness”.  And you definitely won’t last if you just “want” to “start or your business” or “invest for cash flow”.

You need deep pain and frustration.  Sounds horrible, we know.

Your “want to have” must be turned into a “gotta have” or you stand very little chance of breaking out of whatever rut you’re in.

This conclusion is coming from our own self-observation and tracking.  So we can tell you with certainty that it’s important – at least, to us.

If you’re able to get emotional enough, for long enough, to take action, then the next part of the achievement equation is creating environments that force our new behaviours.

Let’s break this out into two sections.

The first, actually measuring what’s important.

And the second, structuring your day so that you don’t lose your mind.

Tracking Your Way To Anything You Want

Some people do an excellent job of getting really upset and deciding to make a change but then lose that emotional super-charge because they haven’t built-in mechanisms to remind them of their progress.  To keep them on track after the emotional charge of adrenaline wears off.

In the previous article, I mentioned that my son was taking some snowboard lessons over the holidays.  He was able to track his progress by counting how many times he fell on the bunny hill.

Next, when he mastered that he went over to the “big chairlift” and tested himself on a real beginner hill, “The Big Easy”.   And he desperately wanted to master this hill so that he could go hang out with his nieces on the Intermediate runs marked by big “blue squares” on the ski hill map.

After tackling “The Big Easy” for an entire day he was able to make it down without turning himself into a human snowball.  He went from falling every ten feet to being able to control his descent and was averaging only about one or two fairly small little falls per run.  That was enough to secure the all-important parental permission required for him to go down an intermediate run.

His speed of descent, his control and most importantly, the number of falls were his tracking tools.

He was able to clearly count his progress.

Let’s take two more examples of measuring your progress:

1. Real Estate Investing.

If you’ve been searching for a good cash flow property for any length of time and not getting anywhere you’ll quickly lose the motivation to continue.  When Nick and I began looking for good homes we turned it into a game.

a) How many properties did we have to go through in order to find a good one?  It ended up being 10 properties required to find an acceptable property.  Knowing this kept us motivated.  If we had looked at 15 properties with no luck over two days we knew that in the next five properties we were likely to find two gems … and that kept us going.  That knowledge gave us the motivation to look at over 50 properties each … a week, for months.

b) If we had a vacant rental property we turned to measuring leads, carefully.  We asked ourselves, how many phone calls from our advertising did we need to get six people to view the property?  It turned out we need about 12 leads.  After that, we figured out that to get a tenant we needed at a bare minimum, three good applications.  We then started measuring how many leads turned into appointments and how many of those turned into applications.  Knowing the numbers took the mystery out of the process and kept us focused on constantly improving our advertising and application conversion … instead of just throwing up a lawn sign and praying.  Tracking, measuring, reminding ourselves of the key numbers made us much more effective.

2. Small Business

Over the years we’ve realized that tracking tenant leads to a property is exactly the same as tracking potential customer leads into a business.

a) How many visitors does your website require to get your “desired response”.  Your website has a purpose right?  Well, measure the response.  Once you know that you need 40 visitors to get three sales or two contact forms filled out or five free quotes then you can focus your energy on increasing your lead flow.

b) How many “free quotes” or “browsing Sally’s” do you need in your business to secure a sale?   Is it five?  Three?  Fourteen?  Once you track that you can to predict how much business you’ll be able to generate from the leads you’ve been working so hard to secure.  And if you know how much that customer is worth to you then you’ll be able to measure exactly how much you can spend to acquire that customer?  It’s beautiful.

How many small businesses track leads, prospects and customers?  How many know the average value of each customer?  Worse, how many know the lifetime value of each customer … the value of the same person over three or four years?

Tracking and measuring this stuff keeps you motivated and better yet, creates a massive competitive advantage.

How?

If you know it takes one hundred visitors to your website to get three sales for a profit of $3,000 … then all your focus can be applied to generating those one hundred visitors.  You don’t waste time with frivolous details like beautiful logos and vanity phone numbers.

If you know it takes twelve tenant leads to get one solid tenant worth $30,000 in gross revenues to you … how much would you be willing to pay to generate those leads?

Measuring and tracking are what separates the boys from the men, the girls from the women.

“Whatever the majority of people is doing, under any given circumstances, if you do the exact opposite, you will probably never make another mistake as long as you live.”
– Earl Nightingale

90 Minutes A Day To Complete Domination

Let me ask you something…

What one single thing could you do, every day, that will guarantee 2011 would be drastically different than 2010?

To get different results you must have different behaviours.  To have different behaviours consistently you want to turn important actions into habits.

I’ve found that to change my behaviour I need to do something every day, no matter what, for several weeks, without exception, until it turns into a new habit.

When I start working out every morning I made a commitment to do cardio every day.

I started with 2 minutes of it.

120 seconds.

Then, the next day, 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Then, the next day, 3 minutes.

I laughed at myself.  Others laughed with me.  The process became fun.

I did it for 67 days straight.  No exceptions.  After late nights, after Michael Buble concerts, after Bon Jovi or U2 concerts, after late men’s league hockey games … every morning, no exceptions.  I didn’t make it a choice.  I wanted to create a new habit and it worked.

Now I do 30 minutes first thing every morning, 5 days a week.  No issues, no hassle, it’s part of my routine.

I started small because I absolutely hated it but had no excuse to avoid it.  How could I admit to myself that I couldn’t do 2 minutes of cardio?  I mean … it was 2 minutes.

Tracking and measuring my progress actually encouraged me instead of discouraging me.  I saw the number increasing every day until I hit my 30-minute goal.

Now for the fun part…

Behind Canada’s Biggest PR Machine – The Bank of Canada

If you’ve been around us for very long you know that we don’t care what the rules of the money game are.

We just want to understand them so that we give ourselves the highest odds of winning.

That’s why we spend so much time studying history, monetary policy and global economics.

It’s why we get updates from relatives in Europe on what they are seeing “on the streets” over there.  Along with friends in Florida, Ohio and California.

It’s also why we pay to get the very best real estate information from across Canada and the U.S.

We’re reading the latest stats on Southern California’s real estate market to better understand our own.

Everything is connected.

And today we’re going to share with you a cool way to predict economic events before they occur.

How do you do that?

Well, we’d like to let you in on a little secret … and only if you promise not to tell anyone.  Deal?

Many moons ago we were “reactive” to the latest news headlines.

No more.

Today, we watch as it’s being created and are able to even predict what we’ll see in the headlines before the newspaper lands on the front porch.

How?

Well, if you’re reading this you’re likely interested in real estate, creating cash flow and starting or expanding your own business.

And so, it’s natural that you’re curious what’s around the corner for the Canadian economy, interest rates etc.

That leads you to the Bank of Canada and its governor, Mark Carney.

He’s the “Wizard of Oz”.  The guy behind the curtain, pulling the strings.

Well, he runs the Bank of Canada like a business … with a marketing calendar and everything.

So when he wants to get the word out about changes that are in store for Canada he pencils in a few “marketing events” to begin getting his message out.

He’s been really quiet for a few months but he’s marketing calendar is now fully engaged again.

Project “Too Much Debt” looks like it officially launched this week.

How can we be certain?

The Difference Between An Amateur and A Professional

Look, it’s 100% possible to make some real wealth, even get rich in real estate investing. Whatever your definition of “get rich” may be, you can accomplish it with real estate.

There’s opportunity to earn both monthly passive income and large chunks of cash during the life cycle of owning a property.

But, you need to know what you’re doing.

And we constantly see beginners make mistakes because they don’t follow the basics of getting some education, then finding a mentor and then following a system.

To cover all the mistakes we see would take weeks and we’ll keep adding articles to address various examples of things to watch out for.

For this article we’ll focus on one of the most important aspects of real estate investing … advertising and filling your property with a tenant.

After all, having someone pay you money every month is kind of the idea. That’s one of the important ingredients if you are going to make it in real estate investing.

Here’s something that we’ve noticed over the last couple of years…

Anyone can take a project to 90% completion. It’s a real pro that finishes the job. And it’s that same pro who gets to reap the rewards of a finished project.

Getting a tenant into a rental property is obviously worth a good sum of money to a real estate investor.

There are four important differences between an amateur real estate investor and a real professional.

And these four can mean the difference between selling a property at a loss to rid yourself of it and making very healthy returns.

Amazingly you don’t have to be a marketing genius to fill a property with a good tenant but you do need to do these things:

  1. Constant Presence.

    Let’s say you advertise your property for a week in the local paper. Towards the very end of the week you line up a tenant for your property and set a date two days later to sign the lease and pick up some cash as a deposit to hold the property.You are excited and to save a couple of hundred dollars you stop advertising in the classifieds for the next week.The meeting day rolls around and of course – it happens.One of you has a kid that is sick, or a dog that needs surgery, or a car that isn’t behaving and you need to reschedule.

    Then for no reason whatsoever when you try to meet up on the agreed upon rescheduled day the possible tenant vanishes. Calls aren’t returned, their voice mail box is full and their girlfriend, who you called because you were smart enough to get a back up contact number, has no idea who you are.

    Frustration settles in.

    You have no more tenant leads because you stopped your advertising. To save a few hundred bucks you pulled your advertising and all the momentum you were building is lost.

    The other possible tenants have vanished and you need to start all over again.

    You then resort to questioning human nature. A popular question asked at this time by beginners is “Why do these tenants lie? They said they wanted the house, why don’t people do what they say they’ll do? What’s wrong with people these days?”

    Nothing is wrong with people. People have behaved this way for hundreds of years and will continue to do so.

    The problem is you, not them.

    It’s your lack of sales experience and knowledge that is the problem (a huge topic for another time).

    You focus on the negative and it’s a downward spiral from there.

    We’ve seen this happen to amateurs over and over.

    And it ends up being so scary at this point some people just break down and decide they can’t make it in real estate investing and leave the game all together. Bad idea, but to each their own.

    Now the professional does the opposite.

    The professional investor keeps advertising until the lease is signed and there is cash in their pocket. And not just on free websites like www.Kijiji.ca or www.CraigsList.org. They’ll actually spend the money to keep a well written classified ad in the papers and on that paper’s website.

    A signed lease can represent tens of thousands in revenue.

    You can’t make any money in real estate investing without getting things like leases actually signed.

    Why would anyone jeopardize that to save a few hundred bucks on advertising?

    Small thinking produces small results and by cutting off advertising before you have a signed lease agreement you are thinking small.

    The professional investor learns about human nature and realizes that people may not follow-up on commitments.

    But the pros don’t not focus on that. Instead they focus on having 3 or more possible backup tenants in the wings.

    They continue to show the property to other possible tenants until the lease is signed. They attempt to sign the lease on the very same day that someone shows interest.

What To Do When Crap Hits The Fan…

Have you ever been in a position where you just can’t believe how you got yourself into such a mess?

You know, things are going wrong, nothing’s working as planned?

Real estate investing produces those kinds of days.

Actually, any business produces those kinds of days, they just seem to pop up with real estate investing on some sort of scheduled, reoccurring pattern.

And the size and scope of the “crappy day” will often increase over time.

I remember, about ten years ago, closing on a property with Nick.

On the actual closing day he was in Europe.  In Paris, France … on a tour through Europe.  I remember that day vividly because the morning started off with our Mother in a panic.

Nick had called from France to say he landed and was OK but there was a hiccup with his accommodations and he hiked his way into downtown Paris to try and find somewhere to sleep … the trip, the confusion with where he was staying and the hike into town had left him exhausted and hungry.  He found a bakery to buy a loaf of bread and headed to a park to lay down and get some rest.  But before he did he found a public restroom where he could “freshen up”.

It was one of those restrooms where you have to pay with a few coins to use them.  You know the kind, after you pay you have like 5 seconds to enter the thing before the door locks again.

Upon entering his backpack got stuck in one door and somehow another door slammed into his face … hard.  He smashed his nose and it began bleeding badly all over his shirt, his pants, his hands and he was now stuck … sandwiched between these two doors because of his large backpack.

Nick’s a big strong dude, so he somehow ripped his way out of the situation and then proceeded to use the shirt he was wearing to stop the bleeding.

After the shock of the event (I still laugh every time I hear it….what else is a brother for?) he lay down on a bench or ledge or something to catch a quick nap.  Apparently he tied his backpack to his body somehow so now one would steal it.  I’m actually laughing as I type this!

I can only assume he was mentally and physically exhausted.

A short time later he woke up to find himself in the middle of a mob of people … apparently the park was part of the route for the Gay Pride Parade in Paris.  And he was right in the middle of it.  Backpack, bloody shirt and from what I understand, in no mood to be part of a parade.

So needless to say by the time he called home to let his caring mother know that he landed in Europe safely he had a lot to report.

“Crap had hit the fan” for him that morning in Paris and he was not enjoying it.  Looking back it makes for a great story though, doesn’t it?

Our Mom was spooked by it … she was worried for him.  I was amused 🙂

Later that day I got a call from our Lawyer to say our rental property had closed.  And the literally, an hour later, the tenants we had inherited called to let me know that the grass needed cutting, the microwave was broken and there was some strange bedroom door handle that need fixing ASAP.   I was nervous and no idea how to handle any of this … so I just agreed to everything they said.

I guess this was some sort of payback for me enjoying Nick’s pain earlier in the day.

For me, that moment, as small as it seems now, was the crap hitting the fan.

I took apart my own lawn mower and stuffed it into the trunk of my Honda Civic … my brand new Honda Civic.

A friend called at about the same time and I explained what was going on … he mentioned he had won a microwave at a stag or something and that I could have it.

I then packed up my toolbox and headed down to the property.

When I got there I was too scared to even talk to the tenants so I just assembled my mower and began cutting.  I didn’t even say hello.  It was interesting to watch the tenants peak at me through the windows as I peaked back at them.

LOL, I can’t believe that’s the way it went, but that’s exactly what happened.

I then finished the grass, knocked on the door, and barely said Hi as I walked into their kitchen to plunk down a new microwave on the counter.

Next, I asked where the door handle was that needed fixing and with my limited handy man skills proceeded to patch up some sort of fix for it.  The entire time one of the tenants was watching my work over my shoulder.  It was horrible.  I was sweating … badly.

What Justin Bieber Needs To Know About Ireland This Week

The American Music Awards were on earlier this week and my kids caught Bieber Fever.

I’m not sure what exactly ‘Bieber Fever‘ is other than it has different effects on different people.

For instance, my son claims he doesn’t like Canada’s own Justin Bieber – he’s from Stratford, Ontario. But one look at his current hair style would have you believing otherwise.  It’s shaped exactly like Bieber’s.

My younger daughter runs around the house humming ‘Baby Baby‘.  So her ‘Bieber Fever’ is very different than my son’s.  She apparently likes the guy.

My wife seems caught in the middle – she’s somewhat mystified at his popularity but then recently initiated a ‘Bieber Fever’ dance in our living room that had all of us jumping around to his songs.

And I find myself trying to explain to my son that just because all the boys in his class have the hate on for Bieber there’s no need to dislike guy .  From what we can observe the kid is a hard worker, dedicated etc.  There’s a lot to learn by observing Beiber’s rise to the top of the MTV mountain.

So my own ‘Bieber Fever’ finds me defending the kid.

And because Justin’s so busy making music videos and making young girls faint we thought it we’d take this opportunity to summarize of few of the global economic ‘fevers’ that he should be aware of.

Because although he’s having fun right now he should prepare for a different world ten years from now.

Here’s what we’d explain to the Bieber himself if we ran into him at the airport being chased by TMZ.com paparazzi:

POINT #1: Hey Bieber man … take a few minutes to recognize the importance of what just happened to Ireland this week.  I know it sounds boring but it’s a pretty big deal.  Read some of the highlights here.  This is not a fire drill.  This is the real thing.

And there’s more fun right around the corner.  According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the Gross Domestic Product of Greece was $331 Billion in 2009.  Ireland $221 Billion.

And coming up is Portugal’s debt problems.  Their GDP?  $233 Billion.

But guess who’s on the horizon?

Spain.

And that’s a big deal Bieber. Why?

If their economy goes wonky then there’s a big elephant in the room because their GDP is $1.468 TRILLION.

Sheesh.  To save an economy of that size the Eurozone better just start firing up the printing presses right now.

Bottom Line:  Europe is in a financial mess unlike anything anyone’s ever seen in a little while … a very long, little while.

Bottom Line for Bieber:  Keep one eye on your music videos and another eye on where your financial dudes are telling you to park your money.

POINT #2: We’d also tell the Bieber man that this all has implications to Canadians.  He’ll likely notice over the next twelve months that his friends and family will be reading and watching more about ‘budget measures” and “getting Canada’s deficit under control” up here on CBC and in the Financial Post.

Just like our Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, did this week in Oakville.

Why the sudden discipline talk in Canada by our government after years of stimulus spending?

Because Jim Flaherty doesn’t want to go down as the Finance Minister that causes the IMF to come into town and force “austerity measures” (fancy term for ‘control your spending people!’) on us nice Canadians.

It’s an epic battle for him though.

At the same time that Flaherty is talking budget controls the Bank of Canada has interest rates at historic lows … encouraging people to spend, borrow, to have fun!

It’s like the left and right hands of the country and giving different hand signals.

Bieber, this is important stuff, let’s hope that one day your friends in Stratford aren’t watching their Prime Minister on TV handing over financial control of their country to the IMF … like these Irish were doing earlier this week in their country:

POINT #3: Here’s what you need to know right now: