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Big Brain Boosts

March 15, 2019 by  
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One of my favorite things about the brain is how a new, unique, or novel situation – seeing something totally new or having a new experience – can pump your brain and your body up and suddenly make you feel fantastic. The brain seeks and loves novelty. Novelty really does do great things to our brains. This brain stimulus is what motivated me to travel the world, to see new countries and cities, and to meet new people in different cultures. Even when I’m a bit fearful to visit a rough, semi-dangerous and poor country, like some that I’ve visited in Africa and the Middle East, I push myself to follow the advice in Susan Jeffers’ great book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.

When I see and experience all the unique and novel neighborhoods, cities, countries and people in my travels, it gives my brain and life a huge boost. Even our short trip to the Indian Wells tennis tournament last week, watching guys like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, was a good brain booster, partly because we stayed in a new place, in a beautiful big house with friends, met and befriended new people, and drove through unfamiliar areas of the wonderful desert towns of Indian Wells and Palm Springs. Even the super oversized palm trees they have there (they are twice a tall as Hawaiian palms) turned my head and gave me a rush.

You don’t have to go out of the country, or even out of your city, to get a big brain boost from seeing and experiencing new and novel things. Just taking a walk or a drive through a totally new and different part of your city, or going to a big game or competition with new friends (maybe one that features a sport or some big event that you have never seen in person), can perk up your brain.

A big reason I go on so many hikes in the mountains is that I almost always see something novel. Even a totally super twisted tree, or an oversized or undersized deer or elk, will give my brain a rush. And, if I see a bear, yikes … my brain gets a rush but my adrenaline is instantly overloaded too. I don’t like that as much.

The bottom line is, don’t ever let up on seeking out new and different places, people, and experiences if you want to stay excited and turned on by life. Keep your brain and body excited and curious and you may not only live longer, but you will probably be healthier and certainly more fulfilled and content.

One more helpful hint – if you are not already signed up with a travel service like Kayak, Expedia, Hotwire, or Priceline, you should do that inasmuch as they send you many super deals on airlines and hotels. I’ve seen prices as low as $390 round trip to Paris from Salt Lake City and under $200 to Hawaii. Also look at sites like TripAdvisor or the experiences listed on Airbnb to find unique tours and guided experiences doing things and seeing stuff you might never have known existed. By the way, I have just scheduled a trip to Cuba this summer which will be country number 92 that I have visited!

The Shotgun Investment Strategy

March 8, 2019 by  
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In my opinion, and from my experience, the best type of asset that lends itself to forced improved value is good ol’ real estate, and specifically properties that need a face lift. These are beat up houses, duplexes, apartment buildings or what I have often refer to as dirt bag properties.

The key is to just do a face lift, not perform bone surgery, so you would need to find properties that are run down mainly on a cosmetic level. You really don’t want a property that needs to be fully rewired, have plumbing pulled, or the foundation replaced. I look for properties that haven’t been painted for 25 years or the front lawn is dead and the fence is falling apart. It may just need new carpet and window coverings to turn it around. Those kinds of properties can make you a fortune and can do so in a few short years.

I do want to add that when I was introduced to leverage, I was a stock broker. I began trying to use leverage with stocks and bonds, but I found out very quickly that the real problem was I really couldn’t fix up a stock and I didn’t have any control over the company whose stock I was buying or the stock market itself. I did, however, have some control over a little beat up house that I would buy, even though that is where the real work began.

Once you have found the dirt bag property, the next big chunk of work is actually doing the fix up to greatly improve its value and give you those big fat returns on your invested dollar. So how do you find those fixer uppers and exactly what kind of work does it take?

There are several ways this can be done. You could drive through the right neighborhoods that are a bit run down and in your price range, but that is the hard way to do it and it takes a ton of time. Since time is one of those things that none of us seems to have enough of, I recommend what I call the shotgun method. The concept of a shotgun is that when a hunter shoots at a bird the shotgun blasts hundreds of BBs that spread out as they speed toward the target. Most of those BBs miss the mark but it only takes one or two BBs to bring down the target. Likewise, my shotgun method of finding the right properties is very efficient and a real time saver and it only takes one or two hits to score your target.

All you do is use the internet to observe all the for-sale properties that even roughly fit your specs and then make low ball offers which would be around 20% to 25% lower than the asking price. You do this without even driving by the property. The real key here is to be sure you have a “subject to” clause in your offer, which basically says that this offer is good only if certain conditions are met. Those conditions can be acceptable financing or even something simple like “subject to my spouse or partners approval.”

So now when you shoot your shotgun at many dozens of properties each week or each month, you only get in your car and drive by and/or do an inspection after you get a counter offer or, sometimes, an actual acceptance on your super low-ball price! It does happen once in a while!

Using the shotgun method works if you make enough offers. Eventually, you’ll score a property and then the physical work begins. It’s not easy but it’s simple and, most importantly, increasing its value is within your control.

When You’re Not Brave

March 1, 2019 by  
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This week I want to continue on this big thing we all know and have experienced called fear. Let me start by asking, what do we know about these fears?

Well, first remember that fear is a natural emotion, one that must be understood, confronted, and controlled. So maybe when you have great fears for whatever reasons, this would be an appropriate time and place to “fake it till you make it”. Some people who know me are surprised to learn that I have been very fearful many times but have gone ahead and done the “fake it” thing.  Maybe we ought to whistle a happy tune and no one will suspect you and I are afraid. If we pretend to be brave, acting the way a brave person would act, the results can be amazing.

Consider the many times you have lain in bed thinking about some tough assignment, something that you are slightly or very fearful of doing. If you’ve never done it before, quite naturally you are reluctant and anxious. For example, if you are giving a speech for the first time to some very important people, or asking a banker for a huge loan, or presenting an offer to buy a particular property for a ridiculously low price. Or it may be visiting a new state, city, or country, or being a master of ceremonies. If you are normal you become very fearful with these new situations.

Whatever you have to do on that particular day as you lie in bed, if you have a few fears of doing it, they will only intensify the longer you lie there and think about it. What will overcome those frightening thoughts and imaginings is action. Even if it is incorrect action, get up, get going, and get the blood running and the brain thinking. Take a shower, get on the phone, write a few text messages and emails, go see people, or set up a lunch appointment. Make things happen!

Action overcomes fear because most fears are in your mind and action lets the physical part of you dominate for a while. The physical side of you needs to dominate because the mental side of you, in many cases, has become too introspective and too analytical. We tend to analyze so many things to death. We have all heard of “analysis paralysis,” which is more than two cute rhyming words.

Sometimes we think too much. In today’s educated, deep thinking and analyzing world, it sure seems that we have a lot more planners and thinkers and analyzers than we do action people. Obviously, we do need some kind of plan, but the greatest plan in the world is worthless without action. I would much rather have a mediocre plan and some real action people to carry it out than the most phenomenal plan in the world with a bunch of inactive and do-nothing people.

Action really is the critical key to huge success and accomplishment. I have never met a person in my life who has total confidence in themselves and doesn’t experience fear from time to time. There is not one of us human beings on this planet who won’t have some serious questions about their own ability to succeed in every new venture they start. We all need to remember that and as the great title of Susan Jeffers book says, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway”!