Some time ago, we discovered something super strange.
It was as if we uncovered some secret access to the most prized real estate, business, and life wisdom.
Ready for it?
Old people have really good advice.
Actually, strike that, old people have freaking fantastic advice.
Especially old people who have done what it is that you're trying to do.
In a world where interest rates are literally insane...
And in a world where social media has completely replaced the 6pm news (remember that??)...
And in a world where people confuse "online business" with "business"...
...old people can cut through the noise and share some profound shortcuts to success.
For some strange reason, they're discounted greatly.
We would argue that, in general, the vast majority of media and people do not take the advice and perspectives of older generations seriously.
They discount it by saying things like, "ah, with the Internet now, new business is very different than in your days."
Or, "ah, interest rates aren't what they were when you were investing, its a different world today."
But we've found that nothing could be further from the truth.
Let's give you some concrete examples of what we mean...
In the late 1990's, I was reading a book called, Nothing Down by Robert G. Allen.
It explained how you could buy property with "no money down" using Vendor Take Back mortgages and such.
So Nick and I got pretty excited about this and we started approaching people with our "nothing down" offers.
After doing this for a few months, and having each offer rejected, we were told by some young real estate "gurus" that we just weren't trying hard enough.
Instead of making 10 nothing down offers in a week, we should make 100! It's the law of averages they screamed, work harder and you'll get 'er done!!
We're big believers in hard work so we doubled down, and at one point, I even took a week off work to really "work hard" on making these nothing down offers.
Then, luckily, I made one offer, in person, to a guy about 70 or 75 years old who owned a student rental property we wanted. We had purchased one from him already and he owned this other beauty of property and we wanted it.
And because we really couldn't afford it, we pulled out the old "nothing down" offer approach.
When I presented the offer via fax he literally didn't respond to us.
Nada, no call back, radio silence.
A few days later, I met him at the property and asked why he hadn't responded to our offer.
He said something that I'll never forget and it went like this:
"Son, you're making me an offer that doesn't match the economic environment. Back in the 80's, we used to do those funny offers all day long because it was difficult to buy and sell homes with interest rates in the teens, 15%, 17%, 19%. Today, rates are less than half of that and I just want my money. I'm not going to hold back a mortgage on this property for 6% interest when I could just sell it and get all my money right now."
That was literally the first time we learned the value of matching your investing strategy to the economic environment.
It was mind blowing.
No books or current real estate "gurus" had ever explained it like that.
We didn't have to work harder, we just had to work smarter!
That was the first time we decided we must figure out the "big economic picture" in order to know what strategy would work best at that particular time.
By that time, Nick and I had both spent thousands on real estate training courses that didn't teach us that.
I even went back to analyze that book I was reading and discovered that it was originally published in the 1980's!! I was reading a book that was written in a completely different economic time!
At one point, I informed my very insightful wife that I was going to become a full time real estate investor.
She told me that I should go get my real estate license.
"Ah Carol, I'm an 'investor' not an 'agent', you really don't know what you're talking about. Investors don't get their licenses, they buy properties. Sheesh."
Today, Nick and I not only have our real estate licenses, we even started a brokerage full of investors who have their licenses, LOL!
But let's get back to the point ... old people ...
As Nick and I researched starting our own business, everyone was telling us how important our company name was and how we needed business cards and a letter head, etc. etc. etc.
Somehow, we stumbled into the best old business guy ever, Dan S. Kennedy, and he told us something very different. (Go buy all his books by the way, yes, seriously.)
He said that in small business, branding comes as a function of your repeated follow-up, not as a function of how pretty your logo is.
And that people actually don't care about you or your logo but that they do care about themselves.
So you should make "business offers" that are focused on what your customer wants, not what you want.
That was the best advice we had ever received in business up to that point.
At one point, I believed that the professionalism of our "logo" would make or break our company.
I think with a name like "Rock Star Real Estate," we've now blown that idea to smithereens.
He then went on to explain something that blew our minds...
He said that all these new media forms we were telling him about were really not that new.
Apparently, back in the day, there was a time when "toll free phone numbers" were a new media. And all the smart marketers used them brilliantly.
And there was time when "fax machines" were a new media. And all the smart marketers used them brilliantly.
And there was a time when "TV infomercials" were a new media. And all the smart marketers used them brilliantly.
So things like "SEO" and "Google" and "Social Media" weren't the key to making or breaking our new business.
You should focus on learning the principles of business and then apply those principles to any and all media channels.
Track which works the best, and then double down on those.
That was like a mind blowing explosion of brilliance that changed our lives and perspectives FOREVER.
Over the next several years, as everyone else was busy posting and throwing stuff against the online media wall, we doubled down on "offers" and "calls to action" and "copy writing" and "systems" and "processes" and it has made all the difference in our lives.
That advice let us make business decisions faster and with more confidence.
It helped us cut through all the noise and all the crap.
So why are we telling you our prized little "old person" secret strategy?
#1 We probably shouldn't
#2 We truly want everyone on this freakin' planet to live life on their terms, and if that means sharing every little detail we got, then so be it.
#3 We believe the advice of older generations, especially in North America, is discounted greatly.
There is so much to learn from those that have gone before us.
Unfortunately, the flashy lights of today sometime blind us.
So there you have it...
Find a wise old person in the area of work/investing/career/business that you're interested in, hug them, and then sit down and let them share.
You'll be amazed at what priceless gems of knowledge you gain.
Today we treasure the insights of older generations.
Until next time ... Your Life. Your Terms!!!
Thanks for this excellent post. Simple but priceless advice: 'the value of matching your investing strategy to the economic environment' - look at the big economic picture in order to know what strategy works best.
With that in mind, I'll look at my investing plan again...
Excellent post, excellent pieces of advise.
You guys said "And in a world where people confuse “online business” with “business”."
Would you mind going into a little bit of details about that? Just curious why you think that way...
We should have been more clear perhaps Mecena.
When we started out in business many people told us that "online businesses" have different rules. That you could do everything online, you never had to go "offline" with your marketing and that you didn't have to take phone calls and meet people face to face. You could do everything online instead. We've learned that although you can do A LOT online you can't do everything. At some point if you want to grow you end up having to put in many of the traditional business practices into place ... phone numbers, meeting people, dealing with customer service etc. Starting an "online business" doesn't remove the need for doing many traditional business activities. We didn't understand that when we began. I literally thought I could start a website, sell stuff, and never have to deal with people. LOL. We've since learned otherwise.
Hope that helps clear up where we were coming from.
Brilliant post! I love the piece of advice from Dan about matching your offer to economic times. I've been investing for more than a decade and have never heard that. So, so sensible. I love it.
I love your posts. Keep them coming.
Thank you Tom. That helped.
Love the nugget: So you should make “business offers” that are focused on what your customer wants, not what you want.
Great reminder thanks!