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Ten Life Lessons on my Birthday

I celebrated my birthday this past weekend with my family and close friends. In my downtime,  I took some time to reflect on the year and put together some real estate and life lessons I have learned throughout my younger and now more wiser years. I hope you enjoy my top ten and make sure to comment on any life lessons you have learned. I believe we grow the most through the knowledge of others in this community.

Lesson #1: It’s About Being Present.

As humans, we have a hard time living in the present.  We tend to either live in the past, reflecting on the missed opportunities and the what-ifs of our lives or we live in the future, anxiously waiting to see what the future holds. Most people don’t live in the present. They don’t appreciate the journey. The number one lesson I can give you is to live in the moment and be present with the people you love. I wish I had done more of this as a younger man, but I certainly focus on it now.

Lesson #2: Success Only Brings Fulfillment if You Have Someone to Share it with.

Whether it is your significant other, children, family, or close friends relationships are what will bring you the most joy in your life, so put your focus there. Relationships need time and effort to develop and maintain. I have seen so many people put work before the people they care most about and are left rich and lonely. Truthfully, success only brings fulfillment if you can share it with those you love. People that make it to the top and didn’t make time to put effort into those around them are left with so much emptiness. Having everything they always wanted and no one to share it with. There always needs to be a balance of your time between work and those you love.

Lesson #3: Real Estate and Emotions Don’t Mix

When purchasing real estate it should be based on the facts. What is the cost of the property plus all of the expenses vs the income it produces? It really is that simple. All too often people get their emotions involved and that is when they make a bad purchase that doesn’t cash flow. They pay far too much or ignore warning signs because they are so emotionally attached to the property and the decision and they don’t want to miss out on it. You need to look at real estate on a facts-only basis. Leave your emotions at the door.

Lesson #4 It’s Not About the Money

When you are young you envision a life full of money, and that the money will bring you happiness. This is because you equate having money with having fun. In your mind, if you have a high-paying job you will be able to buy expensive cars, take exotic trips, and your life will be an adventure. The problem is most high-paid employees work fifty-plus hours a week. Sure, they can buy nice cars and take nice trips a couple of times a year, but realistically their life is boring day to day. When you are envisioning a life full of fun, money is the wrong target. The correct target is time. The real focus should be, “How do I make enough money to be comfortable without sacrificing all of my time?”  Time will make you happier than any amount of money ever will.

Lesson #5 Realtors Aren’t Real Estate Experts

Okay I know this is going to piss some realtors off, so let me clarify by saying there are some realtors out there that are experts. However, as a general rule, real estate agents are salespeople and don’t know much about real estate cycles or whether a property cashflows. They are almost always going to tell you it’s a good time to sell and it’s a good time to buy. So do your own research and don’t blindly believe the real estate agent solely based on their title. As a side note, I prefer working with realtors that own their own investment properties.

Lesson #6 Flipping Homes Won’t Make You Wealthy

Sure you can make money flipping homes, but there is a difference between being rich and being wealthy. Wealth is created by having stable passive income coming in and being rich is flipping a home and making a bunch of money, but then having to do it again to make more money. A lot of real estate investors start as house flippers but move to cash-flowing properties. My advice is just to focus on the cash flow from the start and ignore the temptation of fast money.

Lesson #7 It’s Your Life

Too many times when we’re young we let people tell us what to do. A lot of times what we do for work, where we live, and what kind of car we drive are all decided based on outside influences. We worry too much about what others will think and don’t do what we actually want to do. My word of advice is to be yourself. As Dr. Seuss said, “Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.”

Lesson #8 Mistakes are a Good Thing.

In school, we are taught mistakes are a bad thing and should be avoided. I fully disagree. I think you should be proud of every mistake and aim to make more of them. Contrary to what you may think, the most successful people make the most mistakes. This is because when you are taking risks you are bound to miss the mark sometimes. People with less success take fewer risks and therefore have far fewer mistakes. Mistakes aren’t a bad thing. They are a necessary part of the process. Each mistake you make is a lesson and every successful entrepreneur has a laundry list of mistakes they made before they get their big break.

Lesson #9 Your Home Isn’t an Asset

Years ago, Robert Kiyosaki was the first well-known person to go on record saying your home is a liability. This was a new concept because when people buy a home they assume it is an asset. In fact, a majority of people who own a home have most of their wealth in it.  The issue is your home is actually a liability. Something is only an asset if it makes you money. Liabilities cost you money and with home repairs, property tax, and insurance a home definitely has expenses associated with it. Some people can turn their home into an asset by renting out rooms or building a detached apartment, but generally speaking, your home is a liability and needs to be treated as such.

Lesson #10 Who Your Friends are Matters

Show me your friends, and I will predict your level of success.

That is a strong statement, but a true statement. We spend a lot of time with our friends. It doesn’t even have to be physically spending time with them. You spend time looking through their messages, their social media posts, and discussing their goals or problems. Whatever the nature of your relationship is with your friends, they influence your mindset, your experiences, and the way you see yourself and the world. Be highly analytical and intentional about your friendships. Are they making you level up or are they bringing you down? You need to know, because your success depends on it.

Those are my top ten life lessons for you, on my birthday. Please comment below with lessons you have learned. I will make sure to read them all as I love learning from other people in this community.

6 Responses

  1. Hi Ken,

    Thank you for the life lessons. I am working on Lesson 1: Being present, I’ve drifted from living life now and enjoying the experiences; my mind is busy thinking about the past or future. Lesson 10 is really tough. I’ve lost friends and losing family because I don’t believe they are good for me and often they don’t care what my interests or goals are. I hope to find people I can relate and easily talk to about life and ventures in a deeper way than commonly superficial.

  2. Hi Kenny,

    Loved this list. I am turning 54 today and wish I had read this when I was 20, 30, 40 and even 50. I was thinking about this list as I was watering a Fuerte Avocado Tree on my property and thanking it for the 100 or so fruits that are hanging on it! I guess what I wanted to say is related to #2 & #4 — that it is much better to be nice then it is to be right (parent/child, child/elder parent), which is why a win-win scenario is always the best option in any transaction. # 9 — My utilities now cost more per month than my first Apartment! #10 — Got a signed Copy of Return to Orchard Canyon in Belize — loved reading it with my boys — but I suggest if it becomes a Netflix Movie the Orchard should play a more major character role. Tree Hugger that loves lumber, Nick Morell

  3. Happy Belated Birthday Ken! These are really good life lessons for all of us to learn. I’m up there in age and have learned most of these lessons over the years. I’ve lost a few friends, that I realized over the years, were not in my best interest to hang on to. The problem is, I haven’t really found the one’s I need to have in my life. I understand the concept, hang around successful people and you’ll become successful, but why would they want to hang around me? I live outside the United States, so I can’t go to REIA meet ups, making it harder (not impossible) to develop those well meaning relationships. There are only so many Facebook groups you can join and trying to juggle them, as well as establish the trust necessary to build those friendships can be quite the struggle.

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