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The Powers of Two

May 23, 2015 by  
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So how do you make your world bigger and really live ‘large’? Probably the very biggest key to living large is through other people. Unfortunately there is a big misconception when it comes to seeing other people that seem to be living very large and have achieved super success. When we see someone who has come up with a great new invention, a super creative piece of artwork or, for that matter, a new and very successful business, most people think it came from a single person’s mind who has been working alone and has had a mental breakthrough. I certainly used to believe and think that, but if you and I take a closer look, we’ll see that it just ain’t so.

Recently I heard Joshua Shenk on NPR radio talking about some very famous people and world changing technological breakthroughs along with great works of art all of which came not from one brilliant person working alone but from 2 or more people joining their brains and forces to come up with heretofore unheard of successes. Shenk has written a book called Powers of Two and what a great book it is! He talks about great people like Paul McCartney, Steve Jobs, George Lucas and Vincent Van Gogh along with a number of others. It turns out that the key to their super success was hooking up with another person and the power of what those 2 brains could come up with equaled genius and huge breakthroughs.

Those breakthroughs Joshua talks about may never have happened if those people had not met the right person at the right time. For Paul McCartney the breakthrough came when he met and worked with John Lennon which later spawned the Beatles. For Steve Jobs it was hooking up with Steve Wozniak when one was a teenager and the other was only 20 years old. And for filmmaker George Lucas, it was his wife Marcia Lucas who was his secret weapon. Lastly, there’s a very good chance that you and I would probably never have known the name Vincent Van Gogh if it were not for a guy named Theo, Vincent’s brother.

The author goes on to make an undeniable case that most great and important breakthroughs that we think came from one genius working alone came from the ‘Powers of Two’. Later Joshua Shenk talks about how critical it is for you and I to go out and find our “tribe” and to hook up with others that we truly connect with. Sometimes it’s people like ourselves and sometimes people that are very different from us but they hit certain of our hot buttons that lift us to a much higher level and push us to fulfill our great potential. Next week I’ll talk about ways to find our “tribe”, those people that we really connect with and where to go to hook up with those than can help us create and benefit from the ‘Powers of Two’.

 

The Risk and Reward of Living Large

May 15, 2015 by  
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George Romney, former GOP candidate for President recently made some powerful comments to graduating students at Utah Valley University. He advised the students “to experience a fulfilling, purposeful life. One thing you’re going to have to do is live a ‘Large Life’”. What great advice. That is something all of us need to pay attention to. We need to go out and do it and do it our entire lives.  So many times we hesitate to ‘Live Large’. Why? Because most of the time we fear that we will fail.

“Failures don’t have to define who you are,” Romney had gone on to say, and of course we all have had failures.  He further stated, “Through all my occupations, I have experienced successes and failures. I am asked what it felt like to lose to President Obama. Well, not as good as winning. Failures aren’t fun, but they are inevitable.”

How about you, the reader?  Have you racked up a lot of failures or just a few?  It seems to me, from my experience, that the number of failures I’ve had is in direct proportion to how large I’ve tried to live.  So, yes, I’ve had a ton of failures but some of those have led to some huge successes. And the reason for those successes was that I learned so much from my failures.

I remember one huge loss that I learned a valuable lesson from which lead me to some very, very large successes.  What happened was I decided to lend a large amount of money with a restaurant as collateral.  Big mistake on my part! Why? Because I don’t know much about that kind of business so if it failed I certainly wouldn’t know how to run it. And guess what? It did fail and I lost almost all of what I had loaned.

What did I learn?  Well first I found out that restaurants have a very high rate of failure and second, I learned that I shouldn’t stray from what I know best.  Not that I shouldn’t ever loan money but if I do, I should loan it on assets that I understand as well as being on improved real estate which, ideally, would also be income producing.

I forged ahead and made many millions of dollars’ worth of loans that were backed up by real estate and was very successful.  Later I discovered that I could do even better by owning the right kind of income producing properties. I also, very successfully ventured into the development of condos and warehouses, where the profits were even bigger although they did come with increased risks but in that case, those were risks I was willing to take.  And much, if not most of that success, came from lessons learned from my failures and my trying to ‘Live Large’.

Next week, I want to address something else Mitt Romney said at Utah Valley: “Your life will be larger if you value and nourish friendships.”  Those are also some very poignant words.

How to Live to be 142!

May 8, 2015 by  
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You no doubt have heard the rumor that all of us humans will die someday. Of course, I don’t believe every rumor I hear and this one sucks. I just don’t want to believe it! So maybe I’ll call for a huge boycott. You know, get a bunch of us older people together with big signs saying “We are boycotting death!” or “We refuse to die!” or “Death sucks and we won’t participate!” Well, it’s a nice thought but it probably won’t work. Oh yes, if we did it in front of a TV station they might put us on the news so everyone could get a big laugh out of it, but I don’t think that will help us avoid death or even prolong our lives by much.

However, there are things we can do to postpone the inevitable and live longer, stronger and in great health. In fact, there are some researchers that are “inching toward the seemingly impossible: a cure for aging,” according to the February 23, 2015 Time Magazine article. Maybe you saw that issue. On the cover was a picture of a cute baby with the headline “This Baby could Live to be 142 Years Old”. That headline certainly grabbed my attention and yes, I read every word of the several stories covering what the researchers have discovered and what we can do right now to postpone our own demise.

The main story was about “Mouse UT2598″ and the discovery of a compound called Rapamycin which seems to dramatically slow aging, at least in certain cells. If this compound works for humans it could increase lifespan to around 142 years. The research going on at the Jackson Laboratory and the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, is in its early stages and researchers don’t recommend that humans start popping Rapamycin pills just yet says David Harrison because there are some down sides they have discovered at this point in their research. But the good news for me at age 71 is that they have seen that, “Rapamycin is also neat because it works even when you start quite late in life”.

So if this compound isn’t for humans just yet what can we do about it now? The obvious answer, at least to me, is to do everything in my power to stay healthy, in hopes that science figures out how humans can safely take Rapamycin. And the most effective and proven ways to do that is by eating the best foods which, according to the researchers in the Time magazine article include fish, fruits, veggies and extra virgin olive oil as well as calorie restriction, periodic fasting and consistent exercise with maybe a bit of yoga and meditation.

Do all that and you will have a significantly better chance to live longer and maybe hang in there until they perfect Rapamycin for humans. If doing all those things that you can do and should do sounds like a tough challenge, then listen to the words of William James. What he said many years ago has helped me to better my life when I could see that I needed to make changes and knew that it was going to be a big challenge. “If you change your mind, you can change your life”. I have that burned into my brain and hope you do the same.

 

 

 

Sweet Sweat Equity

May 2, 2015 by  
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When I first learned, from my mentor and friend Larry Rosenberg, how I could actually make a 50%, 60%, 70% and even 100% return on my money, I was blown away because I knew exactly what those kind of returns could do to a small amount of money over time. And believe me back then, a small amount of money was all I had.

I remember vividly the first dirt bag property I bought.  It was a little house that was ugly on the outside and a mess on the inside. But this little ugly and messy house didn’t really need anything more than a major clean up, new carpet and a fresh coat of paint inside and out. The problem was I used almost all of my cash for the down payment.  So, I knew I couldn’t afford what contractors wanted to charge for the work and the materials that were needed to turn this dirt bag property into a beautiful cottage.

So what did that leave me? Sure, I probably could have borrowed enough to cover the contractor’s bids from relatives, friends or a bank but that would cut into my overall profits on the deal. So what did I do?  I just rolled up my sleeves and went to work.  Yes, it was some dirty, hard work but wow did it ever pay off!

I’m not a professional painter and I really didn’t have experience laying carpet but I quickly figured it out.  I can’t say that it was fun but when the project was done and I looked at that dolled up house it gave me quite a bit of satisfaction and a huge a sense of accomplishment.  But I also must say that my satisfaction soared to new heights when I sold the doll house for a big fat return on my investment and that, my friends, is what your own sweat efforts, or ‘sweat equity’, is all about. Wow. Can it ever pay some very handsome returns! And don’t ever forget how those returns of 50, 60 and even 100% can turn a small amount of money into millions over time.

I will admit that a bit later in my investing career, as things were speeding up, I finally got to the point when I figured that my time spent doing all that physical work was robbing me of time that could be much better spent with much larger rewards.  What I mean is that I realized at that point I could make more money by spending more time finding good deals and getting others to do the physical work, than doing the work myself. I could put in more time to make more offers, negotiate more deals and do the paper work needed to figure out what deals to buy and how to finance them. I traded sweat effort for brain effort.

This mental part really is also sweat equity. It’s actually the brain sweat that will give you the biggest returns on your money.  Both physical and mental sweat equity are critical and necessary and you can do both. You need to get to the right point in your growth so you can delegate the physical jobs to speed up your efforts and really grow those returns!