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The Difference a World View Makes

September 25, 2015 by  
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As I write this, I am flying at 32,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, that might be a pretty incredible thing for some but the incredible things on my mind are the wonderful people that we met in Ireland and the great beauty of the country side. We just spent 8 days there (my wife is part Irish but had never visited Ireland). What a wonderful country, with the greenest of  green lands  you’ll ever see and such friendly, kind people.  We flew into Dublin and rented a car then had the scary experience of driving on the wrong side of the road-at least it’s the wrong side as far as us Americans are concerned. I only screwed up twice but quickly corrected and we survived!

We drove from Dublin up to what is called the Carton House, a huge estate with a castle that is now fixed up as a hotel complete with two 18 hole golf courses and all kinds of other amenities. You see, my wife is a Carton and her family history was traced way back hundreds of years ago to the Cartons and the Fitzgeralds, both famous and very well to do families of Ireland. So we just had to visit and stay in the Carton house. We had a great time there and later drove (very carefully) to Kilkenny, the town made fun of on South Park.

Just before we left, we watched the big Gaelic Football finals. I’d never heard of the game before. It’s a combination between soccer, American football and basketball. They run with the ball, dribble it, pass it forward and backward, and kick it for a score. It’s a hugely exciting game; I loved it.

So there we were in an Irish Pub just a few blocks from the stadium packed with over 80,000 screaming fans and next to us was a beautiful couple. In short order we struck up a conversation and discovered they were from Hungary. They were such fun people. I liked them so much I insisted that I buy their lunch. It was like we were almost best friends by the time we finished lunch. That was such a great feeling and left me with such great memories. I sure hope to see them again some time, some place.

That chance meeting brought back memories of all the great people I’ve met in my life from so many different countries and cultures. I’ve had the great privilege of experiencing so much of this great world we live in and have learned so many great lessons from other cultures and peoples from my travels. The biggest life lesson I’ve learned from all these travels, at least for me is simply this:

To visit other countries and cultures and other people with different beliefs, habits and different views of the world can give us all a better and bigger mind and help you and I to be more open minded and accepting of others.

And that, my friends, is what this world needs more of. In my own personal opinion that would lead to a much more peaceful and war free world and would be a big blessing to each and every one of us. Do you see my point? I can only hope that you too will agree.

 

 

The ‘Refrain but Don’t Repress’ Approach to Destroying Bad Habits

September 18, 2015 by  
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As human beings, we have many good habits that we’ve formed and held onto in our lives and then there are some bad habits that we’d really like to dump. Like most of us, you have probably observed and experienced how very difficult it is to change bad habits, whether the bad habit is overeating, overworking, sleeping too much or too little, watching too much TV, checking our email or text compulsively or some even worse habit or addiction.

In the last few weeks I’ve been reading an incredible book that I believe sheds tremendous light on habits including how to form good ones and how to break bad ones. The book by Pema Chodron is entitled Living Beautifully. I must admit that even though I’ve formed lots of good habits that have led to some very wonderful and rewarding successes in parts of my life, I’ve also had some bad habits that have hurt me, and it’s been so very frustrating for me to try to break or change the bad ones only to fail and fall back into them. But Pema’s book has some real answers and directions that, so far, seem to be a quite a breakthrough.

First of all, she outlines that part of the reason we have trouble breaking bad habits is because we are too hard on ourselves.  What most of us do when we end up doing something that we’ve tried to stop doing, is to get mad at ourselves, beating ourselves up mentally, then we try to repress our thinking and whatever we did that broke our promise to ourselves. She strongly suggests that instead, we come to recognize that we are fundamentally good rather than fundamentally flawed.

Probably Pema’s biggest lesson for us is a bit surprising. She suggests that if we are trying to break a bad habit, we need to think hard on refraining from doing what we promised ourselves but DON’T repress it. She goes on to say that many bad habits come from us trying to escape from uncertainty and fear in our lives in particular situations.  So when we are faced with the desire to fall into that bad habit, we need to examine our thinking to see what led us to that point and then just try to refrain from that action but not repress those thoughts.

Pema has science backing her up on this issue.  She says “Science is demonstrating that every time we refrain but don’t repress, new neural pathways open up in the brain. In not taking the old escape routes, we’re predisposing ourselves to a new way of seeing ourselves, a new way of relating to the mysteriously unpredictable world in which we live.” And in the process we are hard wiring our brain to do the right thing automatically.

What I learned from Pema is already working well on a couple bad habits that I’ve been trying to break for years and I am so pleased!! Try it yourself and you may well see what I mean and find success.

Real Estate Investing: The Advantages Never Change

September 12, 2015 by  
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Yesterday I was going through a bunch of old files and I came across a large envelope that my good friend Joe Sugarman sent me. Joe is the founder of the company that introduced the Blueblocker sunglasses that sold millions, making Joe a very, very rich man. In the package was a few of my old ads that Joe had kept.  On the old yellowed paper I re-read one of my first half page ads printed in the Wall Street Journal on January 25, 1977. The headline read “How to Achieve Total Financial Freedom”.  I am totally convinced that the reason the ad sold so many copies of my first book, How to Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You, had less to do with the semi-catchy headline than the sub-header that read, “Millionaires Are Not 100 Times Smarter Than You, They Just Know The Wealth Formula”. I’m sure that most people read that and it rang true to them. Because it is true.

In the body of the ad I went on to say, “Millionaires are not 100 or even 10 times smarter than you , but it is a fact that millionaires are making 10 to 50 or even 100 times more than you.” Additionally, I should consider that millionaires are not working 100 or even 20 times harder or longer than you either. There are not enough hours in the day to work 20 times longer than your average worker! And now, 38 years later, I can clearly see that the formula to making big money and accumulating great wealth is basically the same today as it was way back then.

I can tell you for sure that if I were just starting out now as a young man without any money to speak of, just like I was years ago, I would pursue the same path as I did back then.  The only difference would be that I might be a little more aggressive today than I was then. Today’s market is ripe for the picking!  For the most part the only push back that I have had in recent years from readers of the Financial Genius book is that buying properties at the prices given in the book are just not possible in today’s market.  And those critics are absolutely correct, but the ratios are still pretty much the same.  In other words today you can’t find “dirt bag” properties for prices like $40,000 or $50,000 in most markets. And that’s correct.  But the ratios for what you can make on your investment are still the same.

In many cases, you can gain a 33% value increase on a dirt bag property you fix up. On a $50,000 property, that would be a little more than $66,000. But today, you may have to pay $120,000 or $200,000 dollars for a beat up property but after fixing it up, you could sell the $120,000 purchase for at least $159,000 and the $200,000 investment for $266,000 or more. Yes, these numbers don’t take into account the money you spent on fixing it up, but if you leveraged the deal with a mortgage–using someone else’s money to make money–you will find that the return on your investment goes up a ton and will usually more than make up for your fix up expenses.  So bottom line here is don’t get hung up on the lower price examples in the book, invest and pay attention to the percentages you can gain.

To help with that, I have recently updated my Financial Genius book. It will be going to the printer before too long and I will let you know here when it’s ready for ordering.

The Failing of Stock Market Investments: Human Nature

September 5, 2015 by  
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In last week’s blog I talked about the wild stock market moves and the huge sell off, which was followed quickly by a rebound of prices. Since then we’ve had another pull back of prices once again erasing some of the gains. Some people would point to the big spring back of prices and make the argument against my conclusion that for most people investing in ‘real estate’ is a much better place for their money.

It is true that, in most cases, the market does rebound and in the long run you can make some money there as long as you buy good growing companies. The key here, as Warren Buffett has preached for years, is to buy the right stocks and hold them for the very long term. The big problem, however, is most people don’t do that. Why? It seems to be connected to our human nature. You see, when many, if not most, people buy a stock and they see it gain, say 50%, they sell it because, as I heard hundreds of times when I was a stock broker, “Hey, you can’t go broke taking a profit!” But the thing is, that stock may end up being the next Microsoft or Apple Computer company, subsequently moving up another 50% or 100% or 1000% or more over time.

On the other side, there’s the typical part time stock investor who buys a stock at $20 only to watch it drop to $10 a share, says to themselves, “I am not going to take a loss on this so I won’t sell it now.” So they hold on and wait. Over time I think you can guess what will happen. Yep, those kind of investors end up with a portfolio full of crummy, terrible, loser stocks. They kept the ones that went down and sold the ones that went up.

A big part of the problem with stocks is anyone can quickly and easily buy or sell with very little effort and that can lead to impulsive decisions. Greed and fear can cause that quick buying and selling of stock reaction–usually not a good idea. However with income producing real estate, impulse buying or selling doesn’t usually happen since it all takes more time and, of course, more effort.

But because of that ‘time and effort’ factor, most people that buy income producing properties buy and hold for the long term and if they’ve done it even half right they are collecting enough income in rents to more than cover their expenses which gives them the great benefit of being able to wait–sometimes for a very long time–until they can sell the property for a sizable gain! That’s why I love real estate.  It is also what primarily got me to leave the stock business and move into the real estate investing business. I do hope if you are not already investing in real estate, you’ll start very soon.