Get Your FILL
Get Your FILL
E27 Nick Aalerud

*Intro and outro music are from an original piece by

Carl Zukroff of The Blue Hotel

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You have stumbled on to another episode of Get Your FILL, Financial Independence and Long Life. As you may be able to tell from my voice, I have something wrong with me. I don’t know what it is. It could be the coronavirus, it could be a sinus infection. But my throat is raspy and I’m sneezing and coughing. Oh no, oh my God, so I’m gonna quarantine myself. Luckily, you won’t catch anything through the radio waves.
I’m really psyched about our guest this week, for a lot of reasons. One is that he’s really a successful person: he’s a best-selling author, he’s an accomplished speaker, he’s an educator, trainer, he’s come up with the systems manual for real estate investing called, The Complete DealFlow System. But he hasn’t always been a success. And that’s something that I think is important for us to realize when we have, a lot of us, been investing in a market that’s going up, up, up for the last eight years. So, Nick, can you tell us about your first not-so-successful real estate transaction, your entre into real estate?
N: Yeah, so I was working at a Bank in Boston and they had me working a good amount of time like 60, 70, 80 hours a week and they had me working weekends and I just remember it was exhausting, and I was having some neck and back issues ’cause of the stress, and they sent me across the world, actually, to train a whole team. It was a great experience and I have nothing against it, but that was the catalyst for me just knowing that there was a better way. I want a little more freedom.
I didn’t need a lot of freedom, I was still young, right, but I needed something. I wanted something where I could control my time a little bit better.
And I, just like many people maybe, I saw an infomercial on TV once it was John Beck’s Tax Lien Free and Clear System and it was telling me – I knew nothing about real estate, I was a banker, so nothing – and it was showing me how to buy real estate with pennies on the dollar with none of my own cash or credit and I’m like, “Well that looks kind of cool.” There’s a whole side story to that where I actually lost a board game, and I only bought the program because I was depressed that I just lost a board game. But we won’t get into that, right?
So I bought this thing, it was 50 bucks online. It shows up in the mail and I read through it. I’m like… I learned a lot about tax liens, what this and that is… And it says if you’re serious about real estate investing, call this number.
I guess I’m serious. So I called the 800 number and the best sales people in the entire world – ’cause I still didn’t have a lot of money, I’m fresh out of school and trying to work, pay the bills, and get my own place – the best salesperson in the world talked me into my first $6,000 over the phone, coaching, bootcamp, guide thing.
I didn’t get a lot out of that coaching except, they got me to read the Rich Dad/Poor Dad book. I assume you and most of your guests have also mentioned that book. And if they haven’t, here’s another plug.
C: Yes, I often have a link to that book because it’s a lot of people’s favorite book.
N: It was the book that changed pretty much my whole life, my outlook on life in business. So reading that book got me then to invest in myself and I went to the Learning Annex and that was in 2005, in Boston, was like this huge thing and Donald Trump before he was “Donald Trump” was there, and Robert Kyosaki was there and Tony Robbins was there and a whole bunch of different people were there and I invested in a whole bunch of different programs and I was a serial program buyer for a while and I still worked at the bank and I just, I was getting angry and frustrated with myself after having spent a lot of money on coaching and I still hadn’t done a deal yet and I remember myself: I had a lot of hair then and it was in the shower and I didn’t really know what to do one day I was looking in the shower, looking at a shampoo bottle saying: by the time that shampoo bottle hits zero. I’m gonna have to have a real estate deal. I have to close on something. I have to do something with all this coaching and literally that bottle in my shower, became my accountability partner.
I just looked at every day, and I was starting to use less and less and less and I was losing hair.
C: I’m just gonna shave my head. I can’t possibly meet this goal.
N: That would have been ideal at that time, right? But no, that literally became my accountability partner and I just remember days would go by. There were days that went by that I was just slammed at work, and I couldn’t do anything about it but I’d still look at it the next morning and be like, “Oh.” And finally, I was posting on Bigger Pockets and that was brand new at the time, and another guy found me, out-of-state, and he saw me out posting and reading articles and I had learned how to do the direct marketing thing ’cause of that first over-the-phone bootcamp with direct mail, and pulling lists.
He was like, “I see you out there, hustling. I’m finding –“ Now this was 2005, right? So 2005, he said, “I’m finding undervalued real estate, we’re finding undervalued real estate, we’re lining up rent-to-own buyers who’ll pay above market rent to rent those properties out for 20% above market and they’re signing a P&S, a Purchase & Sale Agreement, for 20% above what we’re paying to close in three years.”
And the best part was: you’d be making money with rental cash flow for three years – And I was a spreadsheet guy, I was a banker. I wasn’t a real estate guy, I was a banker. So, spreadsheets were great. Cash flow for three years, got money three years later with a cash-out when they bought the place. We’re helping someone with some credit issues, right? And the best part was back then, which was legal – is no longer – you could contract with a seller for $400,000 and then at the closing table – you could finance 90% to 100% finance back then, right, and at the closing table…
C: No doc loans, those were the days.
N: Those were the days. And at the closing table, the seller would give us something called a payment authorization back for $50,000 as a good luck, thanks and good luck payment.
So we made money at the closing with the cash flow for three years and then on a resale. I’m like: this is a no-brainer. I’m not gonna buy one of these things, I’m buying five of them, because I’m gonna make all my money back for all the education and gurus that I had paid and it just made sense, the spreadsheets checked out, right? And this guy was gonna manage everything. He was based in Minnesota, I was based in Boston and he was gonna be managing everything, from managing the tenants and the lease applications and he was gonna teach me along the way, right? So I closed on five with my lender out there – all 90% and 100% leveraged and we had a call with him on Monday for next steps and moving the tenants in and that sort of thing, and he didn’t show up to the call and then Wednesday came and Thursday came and he was like answering emails but sporadically and then… But he was kind of elusive.
I’m like: Dude, we gotta get these things rented. Come on, move these guys in, I don’t wanna have to cover 10 mortgage payments, which would be coming up pretty shortly, at that point. And as it would turn out the rental applications, the leases and the P&S Agreements, we’re all not real, they were all forged. He took his 40% from the cash back at those closings and we really never heard from him after that. So I paid an attorney to chase him. I paid property managers to try to rent these things out. And me out of state, I’ve only seen pictures of these places, and I ended up losing – this is all 2005, my first market cycle, which happened to be 8-12 months after I got into real estate, my first downward cycle and I ended up losing all five properties: four to short sale, one to foreclosure, and it put me out of the credit and finance game for… it wasn’t seven years, it was actually nine years ’cause it took it a year just to show up on my credit report.
And they say seven years is how long a foreclosure affects you, it’s really eight to nine. And I was down and out, it was obviously a very, very dark time, where my phone, I looked at my phone as being like it was the center of evil. That’s where collectors would call, that’s where nothing good came from my phone and nothing good came in the mail.
And that’s where I think I had to get over myself and my mindset and I still had one course that I had already paid for that I hadn’t yet taken. So I basically was down-and-out for at least three months. I put my head in the sand, worked at the bank. Thank God I still had my job. If they’d checked my credit, I’d lose my job, but I still had it and I remember I had paid for one more course that I hadn’t yet taken and that was a hypnotist named Marshall Sylver. Do you know him?
C: No.
N: You don’t know him? So he was similar to Tony Robbins at the time, but he came as a hypnotist, entertainer and he moved into the self-development space and I went to his course, it was called, The Turning Point. It was her just a three-day weekend event and that literally was the event that first the first time in my life helped me take ownership of my own stuff. It helped me know that this wasn’t – I put a lot of blame on him: I was the victim, I had all this taken from me. This guy is a jerk and he ruined my life at a young age, he’s completely ruined my life for the next 7-10 years and I learned that he didn’t ruin my life, right?
I jumped into something that I probably wasn’t ready for, that I didn’t do enough diligence on and I didn’t take ownership of my own stuff right and in that course I took my own ownership and it was in that same weekend that I said: real estate is still my way out of the corporate world and how do I do this? I can’t afford to lose money anymore. I’m out of the credit game, right? So how do I do this where I can’t lose any money? What rules do I have to set for myself – and coming from the corporate world, I knew systems and procedures – so what systems do I have to set for myself, what rules? And slowly, I got my phone back up. My phone was locked in a drawer for at least two months, ’cause I didn’t wanna deal with the ringing collections calls and all that and I finally took it out. I knew about a strategy called wholesaling, right?
This is before I was licensed and I started slowly making phone calls and I met a guy at one of the real estate investor meetings that was buying triple-deckers in Somerville and Cambridge and he was converting them to condos.
He showed me what he was looking for and I would just – nights and weekends, be on the phone and knocking on doors, talking to a lot of tenants and getting to the owners, to try and find this guy deals and he would pay me 5000 bucks for a contract and offer that I would get… So that taught me, it got me no longer afraid of my phone, it taught me how to look for deals. He then loaned me his contractor – I knew nothing of construction at the time – so he loaned me his contractor ’cause my reinvestments were way off surprisingly… And from that moment forward – about eight months later in 2006, I had enough money from all these wholesale deals, to do my first hard-money loan on a triple-decker, myself, in Somerville and I broke even on that project, and that was big progress, right?
From that moment forward, I was a real estate fix-and-flipper/wholesaler. Then I got my real estate license and since then it’s always been about taking ownership of my stuff and my motto, my tag line at the time – for my own self, for my own head – was: Shut up and do it. And everything we do now, it’s like all over the office.
It’s not our core values, but it’s still, it’s on my laptop, shut up and do it. It’s not me telling contractors, not me telling the people I work with, it’s me telling myself every day to block the excuses, stop dealing with the crap and just task at hand. What’s the most important thing today that I can do right now to move my goals forward?
So that was a long story, but that was the beginning. And since then, I’ve had four other hard resets. Don’t want to talk about those today. But as you grow in the business, you start to have different problems and different challenges and bigger issues and I have learned at least now, every single challenge I come across as long as I know to take ownership and say, ouch, what can I learn from this, how do we move forward?
C: Yeah, exactly, yeah. I just had a bad situation with somebody who was renting one of my Airbnbs up in New Hampshire. Just I’m not gonna go into the details, but something was left behind all over the walls and the floor, and all over from a little, wild party. And I guess what happened was the cleaner came and found something on the comforter and thought that’s what was causing this smell. She takes away the comfort. My boyfriend goes and he finds a blanket with this substance and he’s like: oh this is what’s causing the problem. He takes the blanket.
I go there and because I’m so anal, the bed skirt was a crooked so I’m like: oh I gotta fix this bed skirt, I reach over and that’s when I find it ’cause it was stuck behind – between – the person must have been in bed and was sick on everything. So it had been there, now at this point, it’s been two days and a half, maybe three days, depending on when it happened. And so I was just like: oh my God, it was the worst. And at first I was like: oh dammit. This is the fault of…why can’t Airbnb do something different. Then I was just like: Hello, you have to find a way to screen people differently so that you can identify that this type of person is thinking, this young person, is thinking of renting your house. And of course, on Airbnb, you can’t discriminate. So I can’t say… Yeah, you gotta be at least a grown-up.
Why these young people have credit cards, I don’t know, but whatever.
I didn’t have a credit card when I was… Well, I found out how old they were only because they broke two windows, only because apparently they had been somehow arrested or stopped by the state police and they left those reports at the house and the cleaners found them and sent me pictures. And so I’m like, they’re like 18-19 years old, I’m like, “Oh my God, I don’t wanna rent to these kids.
Yeah, I said Alright, bring it back, let’s create like you say: let’s make a system, let’s have a procedure, let’s have a screening process where this cannot happen again.
N: You just touched on something else, Christine, too. In our business, if it were easy, right, everybody would do it. And to your point earlier on market cycles – now, having lived through one at the very beginning of a downward cycle, but also being a banker and being a total stats nerd. I was mistaken too. So since 1960, the average real estate market cycle is a 10-year national market cycle. But when you go back to 1910 with the exception of two world wars, our average market cycle is actually 13 years and I was always on the 10-year cycle in my head ’cause that’s what I had been taught and then I’m thinking to myself, now that I’ve been corrected: it’s 2020, 13 years ago was 2007.
Now, I’m not saying doom and gloom is about to come either but I do know that we as humans don’t learn. When we teach our short sale class for the Realtor Associations, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau just two weeks ago, this is I don’t know when this is gonna get released, but right now it’s February 28th, there’s a big Coronavirus scare, markets are plummeting and it wasn’t a big issue. And we’re all like: it’s terrible but now that the market’s implementing, it’s a big issue for everybody right now, it becomes an issue, but that’s a whole soapbox for another day.
The market cycle itself, right? Oh, sorry, Consumer Finance Protection Bureau – sorry, I have ADD – they just released a statement. I don’t even know if you guys saw it yet. So, based on pressure they’re getting from lenders – they didn’t say that part, but we know that’s where it’s coming from. Based on pressure they’re getting from larger lenders, they’ve decided that it’s causing a hardship to these larger lenders to have this debt ratio for borrowers looking to get mortgages. This is not a joke.
C: I remember, I actually was talking to one of my lenders last night and he touched on this but I want you to keep talking about it ’cause people don’t know about it.
N: So, I used to make fun of BofA, who just came out – this is now four months ago – they came out with a no doc, right? So here it comes again and it’s here and this short sale company’s ready. So yeah, Team Christine needs short sale negotiators, MaryAnn and the team, we’re ready to go. And the other side of that is that for right now, the actual agency that was built to protect people from getting predatory loans, they’re literally saying: oh, debt ratio that’s just causing an issue, why don’t we eliminate it?
C: It’s a cycle. Those were the days when you could just walk in. I remember a conversation I had with a banker, I was trying to buy a place and this was in the stated income, stated asset. So the guy said to me, “Well how much do you make?” And I said, “Well how much do I need to make to buy this house? And he said, “$60,000 a year,” I said. Oh, that’s perfect. I make $75,000.
Do you think I was making $75.000 in those days? No, the guy just gave me the script and I followed it. I’m like, Oh Okay, sure, yeah, no one needs to see any paperwork to back this up or anything else.
And I hear people say: well the housing crash, no one saw coming. I’m like: hello, when I can get a loan just by walking in and showing my face, that’s not gonna be sustainable. And even like you’re talking about where we are in the market, I feel the same thing. You walk down the street, there’s not an empty block that isn’t being built on. Well, economics 101, supply and demand. Well, we have a really lot of supply now. So to my mind, it’s inevitable that we’re gonna be reaching a point of saturation. Even in Boston where everybody needs a place to live, they can’t all afford these prices, so the prices are gonna have to come down.
Why should I rent your crappy 15-year-old place or 50 or 150-year-old place when I can rent a brand new apartment that they haven’t even taken the wrapping off of the refrigerator? Rents are just gonna have to come down. The rental market was already saturated. So that always affects the investor market which affects the rest of the market.
N: I totally, totally agree. The NSA. We just did a whole presentation on this last week, per the Home Builders Association and the National Association of Realtors, apparently we haven’t hit saturation yet with new builds. I don’t know how that’s possible, I know that you and I look at micro. We’re staying away from any projects that will end up being a resale of over a million ’cause we’re seeing a huge – and that’s where it starts. The luxury market starts first with some price declines, days on market and then it goes to the high-end condos, especially the markets that just became hot condo markets like Salem, Mass, Lowell, Mass that were hot condo markets back then and now here. And then once those hit finally it starts to get into the other side, but I have found in our business we have a buy-box and our buy-box specifically, our bread and butter, is first-time home buyers, right?
There will always be people that are downsizing, or people that don’t have a home that are looking for a home and whether those numbers are going up or down are still debatable with millennials and that sort of thing. But if we can stay under the $450,000 price mark here for a greater Boston area and we’re still busy, so we’ll always have demand for those. But the more above you go and the builders, I got hit too, so I got another burn in 2012, when I was too big for my britches and I said I’m gonna do this eight-acre on Rye Beach in New Hampshire. Huge mansion, and it’s gonna be gorgeous ’cause now I’m a hot shot, right?
Totally got burned ‘because I didn’t know what I was doing.
So, I think builders are now going: everything I build or renovate – and flippers – anything I touch right now is making money.
C: And then all of a sudden you’ve got 14 projects goins and you’re like, “Oh oops, what’s happening?”
N: And it doesn’t help with, like you said, if they’re new to the market cycle, they think that everything they touch is gold. They have a home-run complex, right? They don’t know that this is going to happen. So even if you have construction issues, even if you have contractor issues, the market has been making up for all these errors and mistakes, and there’s gonna come a time when it does the opposite direction, and you have to buy right. Sorry, another soap box.
C: No, no, you’re absolutely right. I have this friend whose primary business is not real estate but it’s a passion. He likes to do it. He bought this place a couple of years ago and the house was completely finished and he goes into the basement and he sees literally like if someone spilled a tea cup full of water on the ground in the basement and he’s like: oh, water in the basement! He excavated the entire exterior perimeter of the house and painted it with this waterproof paint. I’m like, “Are you insane? Have you heard of a dehumidifier?”
But it didn’t matter, like you said, because the market is still going up. So in his mind, he’s getting his money back. No, you could have just held it for that long and not put the… However, God knows how much money you put into that project.
Those kind of people are gonna be like: oh this flip that just took me 15 months to do because I did all this ridiculous stuff that didn’t need to be done. All of a sudden, gosh, the market has not been on my side, all these 15 months like it was before and now I’m losing money.
N: Nailed it. Preach, Christine. preach. We gotta teach these people but you know what, they’re not gonna learn until it happens to them. They need a hard to reset just like we did. But if you’re listening to this and you wanna adapt your strategies, I’ll tell you what we do. We now project out, we’re trying to stay under also 10-12 months for in-and-out of projects. Anything beyond that, if there’s a zoning change if there’s a special permit, we’re trying to stay away from all that right now, just ’cause the market, we don’t know where it’s going. So it’s under 10 months and we feel that the market turn is coming within those 10 months, we will adjust our, what we call ARV after-repaired value our resale value, so we will adjust, instead of going up by 3% or 4% – which we stopped two years ago, we’ve been flat on our ARVs, we’re gonna start to do a decline. If it’s gonna sell for $450,000 in November but maybe the market’s gonna be starting to turn in August, right? Who knows? It’s all crystal ball.
Maybe we’ll put it in $440k or we’ll put in a different number for the ARV. And it sometimes doesn’t make our offers work, we take that risk. We’re not as competitive as some of the other young bucks out there who are putting in French drainage systems for a centimeter of water they find in a puddle.
C: I was asked to be on a panel at Northeastern for the real estate club. And everybody else on the panel was young, they were all probably like, if one of them was 30, I’d be surprised. And they were all like hotshots. There are big stars they’ve done this and this, and I’m thinking: that could go horribly wrong or that we… And I was just like, “Oh my God, I feel like I’m gonna be the one shooting everybody now, but… So I tried to be a little bit trying to hold myself back a little bit, but I said, “Well that can also go wrong. Imagine if the market wasn’t going up the whole time you did that.”
Oh, man, I never thought I’d be like that person it was just like: Oh you know when I was a kid…
N: And we’re all that person now, Christine. Oh, man, and there weren’t as many devices either when I grew up.
C: Exactly, we didn’t have email.
N: They have three-year-olds now with watches. They talk to people on watches. I can’t, I can’t… whole other topic.
C: It’s a good thing I don’t have kids because they’d be sequestered. They’d be locked in a room or they’d only be able to play in the yard. That would be it. There would be no electronics in the house.
I don’t have a TV so when my nephew comes over, he’s like, “Oh God, I gotta bring all my stuff because otherwise at Auntie’s house I’m gonna be so bored but then he never pulls it out because we’re always having fun.
N: That’s the best then you win, Auntie, you win, because of that.
C: We’ll see what happens when he gets older, if he’s in therapy because of those weekends he spent with me or if he’s a better person for it.
Now that you’ve had all this success and everything’s been going really well, is there anything that you still sort of identify as a challenge for you?
N: Oh gosh, yeah, lots of challenges. So gosh, where do I start? I’d say one of the biggest challenges we face now as a company – even though I’ve been in business now for about 15 years, our challenge – I only scaled I’d say within the last three years. I joined a couple of masterminds is what happened and I realized that I was so far behind even doing this for 13 years I’m like, “I thought I had this stuff figured out and I look across the room doing let’s say 30 or 40 deals a year and I look across the room and somebody’s doing 100 and I’m like: What am I doing wrong? And then I go to another mastermind and now I’m doing 100 and I see that guy is doing 300 and he’s in San Diego. How is this possible?
So either way, people and process are my constant struggles now: maintaining good culture, maintaining a good… We have a huge set of core values we adhere to, but it’s sometimes harder – we’re all so busy and it’s tough to kinda maintain that culture that still holds people accountable for production but at the same time, everyone’s happy to come to the office every day, right? And that means that we have to get a sexier office and a bigger office and well, we pulled in 15 deals this month but now it’s like: well, gee, 15 deals, we have cash for 15 but I don’t think we can do any more than 15. We can’t stop people from bringing in deals. So, there’s cash flow and liquidity management. There’s always issues and I think you and I, no matter how successful we are, will always have issues, they just get different or expand and we just have to be a different person to deal with the bigger issues right?
And that’s where I find myself constantly borrowing from a person that I’m trying to be in 12 months. You have to borrow from that person right now to solve the issues that I’m having right now and I’m big, as you can tell, I’m big on self-help and self-improvement right now too.
C: That’s how you get better.
So how about the most pleasure? What component of your new life or your new sort of business model brings you the most pleasure?
N: The biggest pleasure I get in the business world is literally seeing a member on my team succeed at this point, right? It’s no longer, for me, about the deal, the transaction. I do get a lot of pleasure when similar to you, right, if you help a client – and we’re in similar businesses – so in my investment world, there are certain sellers out there and we go through it with them. Are you sure that you’re not good for a retail listing? ’cause if you list it, you might get your price and a lot of times the people you and I work with, they’re in tough situations or they’re embarrassed or they need something quick and confidential and whatever the case may be.
And my team specifically around here is not trained to push an offer in front of our people. Our team is trained to help and service first and if they leave there with a review or a testimonial, they win. They don’t need an offer, they don’t need a listing agreement. If they leave there with the seller saying, “Oh my God, out of the four appointments that I’ve had you’re the only ones who really listened to me.” They win and that’s how they are rated.
I take pleasure when we get another amazing client testimonial, even if they’re not clients. If they’re a customer and we don’t even do business with them. And I also take pleasure when a member of my team hits one of their own personal or professional goals too. That’s pretty huge.
And on a last note, on a more vulnerable and personal note, when you ask that question my mind didn’t even go to business. Another one of my reset buttons – I’ve had relationship challenges too… I went through a divorce and just recently. I’ve been off social media. Actually, you’re one of the first outbound recordings that I’ve done and I’ve been in a whole new world where I’ve learned what it’s like to be a single dad. And that to me has become the most difficult and yet the most rewarding, possible thing that I could imagine but it’s definitely the most difficult as well. So thank you for letting me share.
C: Yeah, that’s great, that’s great. Yeah, it’s interesting, people think: oh, nuclear family. It’s so important but I actually think a lot of times, especially dads, don’t take the time to have that one-on-one that you have when you have a specific… This time is alloted for my child, so I’m not going to go work, I’m not gonna… We probably won’t even go grocery shopping and we’re gonna just spend this quality time together.
That’s, it’s special.
N: Yeah, I think you totally just nailed it. In fact, I did a gratitude journal this morning and that’s exactly what I said. I said, now every minute is like a date night with my kids, right?
It’s not even… We’re doing errands, it’s like I’m focused on you: my phones off and it’s hard. It’s hard when we’re trying to run our businesses and keep our team engaged but it is what it is and they appreciate it.
C: Definitely. And that’s the kind of investment that you’re making for a long time from now, right? You’re not gonna see that payback for a while but it’s worth it.
N: I agree, I agree, there’s a lot of those – only ’cause we talked about challenges today, which by the way, I love that we talk about challenges ’cause that’s what makes us real. We talked about that before we even start recording and if it does help any of your listeners to talk about challenges or to read stories of overcoming, I’m a co-author in a book, that if you’d like to share with your audience, you can, it’s called: Don’t Quit, Stories of Persistence, Courage and Faith. It was an Amazon best seller.
And they can just do a search right in there. Kyle Wilson is one of the authors is also, there’s a bunch of awesome people, Todd Stottlemyer is in the book, Robert Ott is in the book, Lisa Haisha, there’s a whole bunch of celebrities that are also in the book. I’m just, I’m a co-author, but we all shared our stories of overcoming and the story I shared with you today is in the book with the outcome. But it doesn’t include the other four hard resets either. So you can write a book on yours, and we can write another book on ours, right?
It is what it is.
C: That was a very nice segway ’cause I wanted to ask you about how you started writing and how you found that sort of author journey.
N: Oh sure, this is probably not the best answer. I was thrown into it. I was asked to be a contributor and I hate – I don’t hate writing, I used to like writing. I stopped finding the time to be able to write in fact, even the time to read. Now, I’m an audiobook person, I can listen, I can only even read. I’m sad to say that ’cause I know there’s power readers out there and all the CEOs and Jeff Bezos and everyone: read three books a week. I can’t… So I can listen to three books a week.
So writing was hard but I was asked to be a co-contributor to this book. I was honored to be asked and I heard who else was in the book and it’s crazy. So it was great ’cause we also, the co-authors and we had weekly calls to hold us accountable to submit a rough draft by this date, and submitted things, so it was for me, literally deadline-oriented. I didn’t have a chance to think about it, I didn’t have a chance to plan it, I liked it. They want to hear this story. I’m gonna outline it and I have to elaborate on it, and I will spend a bunch of hours for weeks and I have deadlines.
There’s no good answer there.
I didn’t sit in a Panera Bread with a coffee and zone out. I’m just gonna create something that motivates people. Now it was like: this is the book and we love you to be a co-contributor and you should tell your story. I’m like: what story? What stories have you got? So it wasn’t a great, no great story there.
C: Well, really, but it’s a start. I mean, do you think you’ll write something else, just on your own?
N: Yeah, I think it was a release, it was a release and now that it’s out there, I will, absolutely. We published some business books, we published something I call the Complete DealFlow System, which is more how to source off-market deals, but this was more a vulnerable release type book for me and knowing that I was with a bunch of others that also had similar stories, which made it easier.
There might be time if I feel like I can bring value. I’m not gonna write something if I don’t feel like it’s gonna bring value, right?
C: Yeah, yeah, just to kind of… It’s not an egotistical kind of project, it’s not like, Oh I just… You just need to know about me, it’s like… what I’ve gone through, I lived through it, so maybe no one else will have to… Or maybe this one person who listens won’t have to.
So how about books by other people? Do you have an all-time favorite book? Is it Rich Dad/Poor Dad or is there another one that’s a really kind of a guiding beacon for you.
N: Oh yeah, that’s a great question. That was the one that changed the direction of my career. There are so many… Now, my most recent that is coming to mind one of them is called Traction, it’s a business book, it’s called Traction. It’s built for entrepreneurs. And I think, specifically, I don’t know if it’s specifically real estate, been a while since I read it, actually, but it’s a business book about how to put the right people in the right seats if you’re looking to scale, putting the right people or the right seats in your company, in your organization, and how to hold people accountable and how to structure a company and using personality profiles, that sort of thing.
I also just finished listening to Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss, the FBI hostage negotiator. That was awesome and talk about a whole different way of negotiating, which is applicable to everything – to life, to real estate. It’s the opposite of that book, Getting to Yes. He said that was flawed logic and he talks about why going for no and going for that’s right, are the two things you’re supposed to go for. That’s truthfully how we built our platforms to meet with our seller customers, right?
Those are the two recently. There’s so many, Go Giver is a great book. How Full is Your Bucket is another book, Who Moved My Cheese. There’s a bunch of different… Those are the types of books that I like to listen to and read.
C: So now, for podcasts, do you have a good podcast that you think – besides yours of course ’cause we’re gonna definitely put a link to your podcast on the site, a podcast that you might like to listen to or that you think would be good for new investors.
N: So for new investors, I would subscribe to the Bigger Pockets podcast. Most of my podcasts, now, it’s funny because they’re not as much real estate or business focus as they are personal.
So the ones I listen to now, Front Row Dads is one of them, being an awesome dad. I’m part of another more recent Mastermind, which is also focused on overcoming challenges and it’s usually for men. It’s called Warrior and it’s Warrior on Fire is the podcast that I listen to, anyone can listen to that.
It’s a lot of hard love for men going through issues but for real estate specifically, if I thought about it, I did a lot of syndication from 2010 into 2011 also. I do a whole talk on that too, not for today, but I ended up as a victim in a security, an SEC investigation. That was fun.
But that’s a whole other hard reset that I do chat about and how to protect yourself as a limited partner and all that stuff.
Then I used to listen to… Oh gosh, they call… Well, the Real Estate Guys is a good podcast. There’s specifically ones that are involved around like syndications and market cycles and that sort of nerdy stuff. I’ll get back to that. I know the people but I don’t know what they’re called.
C: Okay, that’s alright.
One other thing that you talked about, that I’m a huge fan of is masterminding. So can you talk about that for people who might wanna get involved in a mastermind and how you found your first… You said you had two masterminds, where you’re just like, “Oh my God, I’m a total loser. Everyone else is doing better than me. How can I get better? Just places to get inspired.
N: Yeah, for sure. I think masterminds are an excellent place but I think before people go to a Mastermind they should invest in a coach or they should invest in someone that’s there to hold them accountable, and that has done more than they have and that they’re offering themselves out as a coach, and once they go through that process, then they’ll really realize that joining a mastermind is that next level. So once you’ve been coached and you know how to hold yourself accountable.
I’m trying to think how I found this one, I had tried to join this Mastermind, it was three years ago and they rejected me and that made me really wanna get it.
I’m in a Master Mind called The Collective Genius which is supposedly one of the 1% of real estate investors nationwide. And based on what I’ve seen in there, they absolutely are and that is – they limit market territories, which is because they want people to share they want everyone in there to be completely open and honest with everything that’s going on in their business and in their personal lives.
I loved it, it was my first time being a part of something like that and I couldn’t even understand why people were just giving up what I consider their secret sauces of everything they did, but they are of that mindset, which now I am. The more we give, the more we receive in return anyway.
I wasn’t even there. We’re all from Boston, we’re hard shelled – you’re not clearly you’re doing great, but hard shelled: my competition is gonna get this, and I don’t wanna go.
And now it’s totally opened me up to a life of abundance in a life of getting out of the scarcity mindset, and we just share everything.
I was going from doing 40 deals a year to a guy doing 60-70. like how does that happen? Oh gosh, okay. Hiring people, okay, let’s talk about building a team, what is that? And then now we’re there, and so I get another guy with the same price point market, doing 300 deals a year. How the heck is he doing 300? I have no idea, but he’s willing to share everything he’s got.
So, masterminds, bottom line, hands down after a coach, the best possible thing anybody can join 100%.
C: Well, even each step that you’re taking, just being held accountable, but a lot of the things that you’ve talked about in your favorite book, you haven’t mentioned, Think and Grow Rich. But a lot of this stuff is from that, right?
N: So that was part of my re-finding myself. Yes, Thank and Grow Rich, How to Win Friends and Influence People.
C: The classics, right?
N: Yes, yes, the classics, they are up there with my Kyosaki books, they’re all in one book shelf together.
C: Yeah and there’s just something you just have to… Because he really started it, like the go-givers. I’m reading, thinking, The Go-Givers? Napoleon Hill even coined the expression.
N: One of our core values is give first, give first, right? We expect nothing, expect nothing in return. And it’s been life-changing.
C: Changes your attitude? That’s the main thing you’re not like. Well, what are they gonna do for me? It’s like, no, what are you gonna do for them? And then people are like, Oh he did all that stuff for me, now I have to do something. That’s okay.
N: Guilt is a powerful thing.
C: But it’s not even that. I know you do things for strangers because it just feels so good and people can’t… If you’ve never done it, you can’t understand how that works.
N: Yeah, yes, agreed that’s cool.
C: What should I have asked you, Nick, that I failed to ask? What do you wanna talk about or whatever that I just totally skipped over or didn’t catch?
N: You’ve covered a lot. I mean, I, the… We talked about personal and professional life. I’m happy to share one thing whether you’re recording or not, right? I think it’s keeping things real and raw and relevant. It’s very hard on social media all day and we see all of our friends, family and associates, the top 5% of their happy life goes on their social media profiles and I think there’s just not enough out there that’s real.
That success is not something that comes overnight and I’m not there yet. I don’t know about you, right? I’m still trying to achieve it every single day and my success has become -there’s a business win, but there’s also personal wins that I’ve found are just as, if not more, important than our business wins. And just, I am not certain of anything but I’m certain that I’m on the right path and for me that’s kind of everything that I need right now.
C: Yeah, do you ever listen to The Four – I say Listen, because I’m also an audiobook person – The Four-Hour Work Week?
N: Oh my gosh, oh my Gosh. We hired our first 8 VAs because of that book.
C: If people haven’t read the book, it talks about what is it that you think you need to be a millionaire for? When you have this bazillion dollars that you think you need, what are you going to do with that? And could you potentially re-work your life so that you’re doing that today? And that’s where that work-life balance comes into play. Am I a gazillionaire yet? No but you know what? Today, on my way to meet a client, I was actually saying: what will change when you have achieved your financial goals, what will change in your life? And I’m like: no, that’ll say the same. No, that I’ll say the same. To me, that’s the secret, right?
N: Yeah, yeah, you nailed it. 100% agree. Mini-retirements, that’s his little phrase for it. Being a single dad might change that a little bit, but I was of a mindset that I wouldn’t go on week vacations, I wanted to go on long weekends and then once a year, take a three or four-week vacation. And I hope I can still get to do that because that was so much more effective and mind changing, life-changing for me. You can pretty much do anything you need to in three to four weeks at least experience something.
C: A week is it just barely getting relaxed, just barely starting to stop picking up your phone and checking it or whatever, you just… I’m famous for that, I just go somewhere. You can call me, you can text me. People don’t know where they’re calling you, you know what I mean?
My clients don’t know where they’re calling me like, Okay, what’s that in the background?
N: They expect you to be on, right? No matter what, you’re their person and they trusted you and even when you have a team that’s hard ’cause it’s like… Well, no, I hired you, I wanna talk to you.
C: Which is fine because for the most part, you teach people how to treat you. So I’ve actually sat in the seminars where people are in the audience asking questions like: Oh, how do you get people to stop calling you at midnight? I’m like, Don’t pick up the freaking phone that’s how. I think to myself, “Oh my God, these people have no boundaries. They have no boundaries that they’re just letting their clients just go run roughshod over them, like No.
You teach people, somebody’ll texts me? I’ll be at the Red Sox game, and I’ll just say, I’ll text them back with a picture of the field and I’ll call you at 10 or whatever, but just have to… This is my time. And I actually learned that years ago as a software consultant back in the day ’cause I said something about vacation I said, “Well how can I plan a vacation, when I don’t know what might be going on then? And they said, you just plan it, you put the vacation in first and you plan around it, and I thought: what? But that’s what happens, or you wanna buy a house, great, you’re gonna work around my vacation cycle whatever.
N: But isn’t it also true that it’s right when you’re preparing for the vacation that you get nine extra clients?
C: And when you’re somewhere because you know, your mind is different. And that’s when you get great ideas and everything. Yeah, if you don’t ever go on vacation, you’re just gonna be stuck, you’re never gonna advance ’cause you have to be away before the universe says: oh now we have to give you 5,000 things to do so you can feel bad about taking that vacation. I don’t feel bad.
N: Creating that space. Yes, 100%.
C: The universe hates a void, right?
N: That’s awesome, this has been a pleasure.
C: I have loved having you, this is awesome, Nick, thank you so much for sharing all your good and bad things with us today. We really appreciate your wisdom and thank you, Listener for listening. Be sure to be here next week ’cause next week, we’re gonna have Ann Bellamy talk with us about hard money. I know a lot of people wonder about hard money, they think maybe it’s the solution for them, when they’re first getting into doing flips and stuff like that. So she’s gonna kind of remove the myth of hard money. In the meantime stay healthy, stay healthy stay happy and have a fantastic week.