In the world of investing and financial blogging we are accustomed to measuring success in terms of money money. I may, for example, write an article detailing an acquisition of a 10-unit building with monthly NOI of $3,400 and cash flow of $1,000 for $373,500 which 8 months later is showing an NOI of $3,850 and cash flow of $1,450 and call that a success. Why not – after all increasing the cash flow by close to 50% and improving the valuation at 10% CAP from around $410,000 to $460,000 should be viewed as success. Would you like to learn more about this deal? If so, leave me a comment and I’ll write about the specifics.
However, while money is important to me, it is not the most precious item I have, nor is it the most precious item that I can share with people in my life. In fact, I do Real Estate deals like the one above which create cash flow and wealth not because I’m driven by money, but because money, as the medium of exchange in our economy, buys that which is truly important to me – an ability to live life on my own terms!
In the dark, when nobody is looking, we all want the same things. All of us want to matter, we want to make a difference, we want to be treated with due consideration. But most of all we want to get out of bed and have the freedom and the ability to do exactly what we want with whom we want – to live life on our terms. Now, you may not have found the courage to admit to yourself that this is what you want, but if I know you at all, and I’d like to think that I do, you want exactly what I just described – you wouldn’t be on www.JustAskBenWhy.com reading this article otherwise.
With this in mind I think that we can agree on a definition of success, which is simply this:
Success – freedom to do whatever you wan, with whomever you want, whenever you want!
So, let me ask you – have you achieved success in life? Personally, I have not yet but I’m making progress. My cash flow is strong enough so that I’ve not had a job in a couple of years, which enables me to be home with my kid. I realized that my kid needs that – and while they’re too young to learn about real estate, the extra time I have does let me develop their young minds to the fullest. I do one good multi-family real estate deal per year and each time my cash flow position improves. In the mean time I continue to the process of systematic amortization of my debt, which also improves my financial position. In short, while I certainly do not yet fit into the above definition of success in that I do have to watch what I spend, how, and how often, I do nonetheless have more freedom to pick and choose who I spend my time with…
And Who Do I Pick?
Well – I’ve never had a lot of friends. I think this is because I have always been different from my peers in substantive ways; the things which seem important to most mean little to me and visa-versa.
My best and truest friend is my wife Patrisha – she digs me; by that I do not mean that she thinks I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread, although I’d like to think that I am. No – she just gets me and relates well to my frame of mind. Whether she agrees with me or not, she always seems to understand where I’m coming from. I thank God for Patrisha every day because she is definitely the better half around here.
My children – they are the reason I do things the way I do things. I think they get me; as much as 4 year-olds can anyway. The big problem in this relationship is that most of the time I am the one that doesn’t get it – lol. Let me tell you something – when it comes to money, I want to make enough so that I could spend the rest of my life not worrying about it and focus on trying to understand them and help them. Who’s got time for a 9 to 5 job – you know what I’m saying?
My parents – they have always been there for me; they’ve always helped, though I don’t think they really understood why I left the field of music to become an entrepreneur. I think that they are coming around to it now that they see the success I’ve had. I can foresee a time when the roles are going are going to reverse and I’ll be the one helping. Again – no time for that 9 to 5, so I keep plowing ahead…
Aside for my family, I have very few close friends. I suppose it wouldn’t be wrong to say that I don’t go chasing friends. In fact, I don’t care much if people like me or not. I have a message, and you either listen or you don’t – I’ve learned to be fine with either. Although, I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit to myself that I would rather to be heard than ignored…
I have love for humanity in my soul and lots of knowledge in my head, both of which I want to share. I love to teach and mentor. I love to see others succeed even more than I enjoy my own success. And I am excited to tell you that about a year ago I discovered a community which continues to exceed my expectations one year later. I’ve learned; I’ve made friends; and I’ve had an opportunity to share ideas and help people. I am totally psyched about this community and I want you to check it out. This community is www.BiggerPockets.com.
How I Discovered BiggerPockets (we lovingly call it BP)
I was surfing the internet one day looking for tenant-screening tools and services. I’ve always done my own back-ground checking, but as my portfolio grows and I eventually become sidelined as far as day to day operations, it will become important to automate the process of background screening and tenant selection. So – I looked to see what’s out there.
Well, it just so happens that my Google search for tenant screening lead me to BP. Incidentally, I later found out that BP has the Google search thing pretty much cornered for a whole bunch of terms because of their incredible content and the resulting traffic – more on that in a bit…
On that first visit, I was prompted to sign-up for their free newsletter, which I did, but then all but forgot about the site for all intents and purposes. I kept receiving these email newsletters several times a week, and to be honest with you, I was simply trashing them. What can I say – I am a busy guy, so to get me to open up one of these is anything but easy.
But then it happened; I eventually came across a title that I couldn’t resist – I clicked on it and got hooked. I am not sure now which article it was, but I think it was an article by Kevin Perk, who is one of the featured writers on the BP blog – oh yeah, they have a blog which reads like the encyclopedia of “how to” in real estate investing. Anyway, I clicked on the article and that was a beginning of a beautiful thing, because I left a comment. I never comment on anything; ever – but I left a comment. And the author responded!!!
I thought – WOW! These guys are on it…
What is BiggerPockets
BiggerPockets should simply be thought of as the greatest free resource for real estate investors, and when I say resource I mean both relative to networking and knowledge acquisition. My understanding of how the idea for the site came about is that Josh Dorkin, the founder and CEO, was at the time a struggling real estate investor. He had a few houses and was having a hard time making the real estate investing thing work for him. This being so, he did what anyone in his place would have done – he did research to try to find answers.
However, he quickly discovered that there was not a place to access information for free. Sure, he got a lot of hits of every guru in the universe promising overnight wealth and all you have to do is buy their course which contains no useful information and serves as a platform to up-sell. But, there was not a place where he could simply ask questions and get answers.
Well, Josh’s idea was to create a platform where seasoned investors, such as yours truly, would dish out answers to any and all questions the newbies could ever come up with. His idea worked, as is evidenced by monthly traffic to the site which measures in very respectable hundreds of thousands.
There are thousands of forums on BP where members post questions and topics and receive comments from the community. And when I say comments I don’t mean 1 or 2… Some threads take up 4 pages and boast hundreds of comments. You can type-in a phrase or a question and hundreds of threads will pop-up for your learning enjoyment. You could literally read 7 hours per day for a month and not even come close to running out of fresh material – amazing content!
On top of this, there is a blog which pumps out 3-4 new articles each and every day by authors who are truly the best and the brightest in the game today. Incidentally, I am proud to tell you that I’ve been contributing weekly to the BP Blog for about 6 months now and enjoying myself immensely; you can see my articles here.
There are also paid membership levels which afford additional benefits such as access to the marketplace where members can connect to do deals and conduct commerce. And the guys are continually improving the site and its’ offering, and in my opinion it is on the verge of absolutely exploding (I’ve heard some of these ideas, but don’t tell anyone).
To Wrap It Up
I’ve grown quite fond of BiggerPockets and what it stands for, as you can tell. For me, this has been a place to learn, to make valuable connections, and to be inspired by other member’s success stories. And most importantly, I’ve made friendships – real friendships which are going to last a lifetime, and for me that’s saying something. If it were not for BP I would have never met these guys; the friendships are big deal to me indeed!
I encourage you to check out BiggerPockets.com, and I will see you on the forums.