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Money and Meditation

August 8, 2019 by  
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If you have been reading my blog for years, then you know that I started out mainly writing about money, money, money. I wrote about how to make it and how to invest it for the best returns. Over time, I have expanded my subjects to include physical and mental health because, as we all know, without good health, tons of money may not help you at all, or at least not much.

Our brains control our physical bodies much more than most people realize. Years ago, I found an explanation of why the brain can control so much of our lives in Time magazine. A professor at the University of Wisconsin, Richard Davidson, who Time magazine had honored as one of the “100 People Who Shape Our World”, was actually asked by the Dalai Lama to study the connection between the meditative state of mind of his Buddhist monks and their emotional and mental health.

Davidson first hooked 128 electrodes to the head of a French-born monk, Mathieu Ricard, and recorded an immediate increase in the gamma activity when the monk began to meditate. Later studies with a control group of students only lightly trained in meditation showed the monks produced gamma waves that were 30 times stronger than a control group. Wow, that is HUGE!

But what does all this mean? Simply put, this and other research unveils the real possibility that the brain, like the rest of the body, can be altered intentionally. Just as we build muscle through exercise, we can also build our mental capacities that can lead to better brain function and an increase in essential cognitive functions, including memory and perception. This all creates a more positive mental state–and that’s what in turn creates more productive gamma brain waves.

This discovery tells me that as I do more meditation, I will gain a better functioning brain which could help me be a much better investor. I do believe that by pumping my brain up through meditation, I can make better real estate deals and manage my money much better. How about you? Go ahead and try some meditation and see what it does to your brain.

One last comment. Or, I should say that I’m going to do a little bragging.  I’ve always been impressed by the Dalai Lama and many years ago I had the great privilege of escorting the Dalai Lama from his hotel room to a huge ball room and then I introduced him to the audience. I will never forget the great feeling and gratitude I received from doing that introduction and getting to know him even just a little bit.

Focus Your Energy for Strength and Profit

July 5, 2019 by  
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The quickest route to any objective, be it monetary or otherwise, is to totally focus your attention on a minimum number of things. Thomas Edison was once asked how he was able to get so much done. He said, “It’s very simple. You and I each have about 18 hours a day in which we may do something. You spend that 18 hours doing a number of unrelated things. I spend my time doing one thing, and some of my work is bound to amount to something.” If Edison took time to do dozens of unrelated things, he and his team most likely wouldn’t have come up with some of the great, world changing inventions that he patented.

If you truly want to be outstanding in any field, there’s one important rule you must observe: you must concentrate your energy on that one thing. Get just that one thing in your mind and in your heart.

With blinders on you’ll be able to look straight toward your goal and forget what’s happening on the sidelines. It’s been said that sidelines are “slide lines”. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote two essays on the subject. One is entitled “Power” and the other “Wealth”. He wrote, “Stop all miscellaneous activities. Do away with distraction …,” because, as he put it, “distractions will untune us for the main purpose of our lives.” In another passage, he states that “The one prudence in life is concentration, the one evil is dissipation.”

If you have an intense, unwavering determination to make your objectives and goals a reality, nothing can stop you. Learn to concentrate your efforts by focusing your attention on one thing and keep it focused there. It’s like a magnifying glass—you can take the gentle rays of the sun and bunch them together with that magnifying glass and create a shaft of light that can burn a hole through steel.

To become a great person of accomplishment, financially, artistically, socially, religiously, politically, or any other way, you must concentrate your efforts and attentions through that tiny magnifying glass. You must resolve not to be sidetracked by the hundreds of diversions that will tempt you–diversions that are sometimes very interesting but are, nevertheless, usually meaningless and divert you away from your primary goal.

Always Living Large

June 28, 2019 by  
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So, I’ve been having a bit of a stressful but exciting week as I work on a big real estate deal. Yes, sometimes, even though I’ve been doing this for decades, making deals can be a little taxing but as Mitt Romney, former GOP candidate for President once said to the graduating students at Utah Valley University about experiencing a fulfilling and 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.  I wrote about this some 4 years ago, but I think it’s worth a rerun. So, here’s basically what I wrote in May of 2015:

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 in that Utah Valley University speech. “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?  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”.

Romney’s words are not just for graduating students. They are wise words for us at any age!

Motivation in Words

April 19, 2019 by  
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It happened at the airport. I was in big hurry-I had to get a 13-year-old German boy on his plane back to Berlin. As I ran down the concourse, a handsome, 40ish stranger said as I hurried by, “Hey Mark, good to see you.”  I had no clue who he was, but I waved and kept running. Five minutes later, after they boy was on the plane, the stranger approached me again. This time he put out his hand and introduced himself.

He told me how he bought my first book How to Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You and gave me credit for making him tons of money and dramatically improving his life. The chance meeting was a catalyst and a huge motivator for me to keep writing so that I might help more people with their financial lives. There are not many things that make me feel more content and satisfied as being told that I helped a person make a fortune which lifted their lives to a new level.

I’ve had so many people thank me for writing my books, my blogs, for sharing my methods, formulas, and experience, that I am sometimes overwhelmed. But it also motivates me to write more. I’m a total believer in the power of setting goals, but there is a critical part of goal setting that many people don’t use and that critical part is a pretty simple process that almost guarantees that you will reach the goals that you set: it’s the simple act of writing your objectives and goals down on paper or on your iPad or computer. By doing that, you more permanently plant the goal in your mind and the likelihood of reaching that goal increases exponentially.

Anne Klauser, in her great little book, Right It Down… Make It Happen, talks about the huge power of writing your goals down and what it does that pushes you to follow through and reach the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Quoting her, she said, “Writing it down feeds the inner mind… the other than conscious mind.”  There is something in that inner mind that drives a person to go after and reach the goal that was set.

She goes on to say, “Create your own list of what is meaningful to you. List your intentions and begin your day by writing them down.” Do that enough and it will become a habit that you don’t even have to think about.

Personally, I’ve noticed that when I write down my goals—long term or even just a to do list for today—it’s like my brain won’t leave me alone and it coaxes me to follow through and do what my list tells me to do.  It’s almost like magic, the way it works in my head. It doesn’t seem to matter whether my goals are putting aside time to work out, taking my 20,000 steps a day, a list of people I need to talk to, or even taking time to write this blog, my brain works overtime to make sure I get it done.

If you haven’t been writing down your goals and to do lists, try it and I think you will be impressed and pleasantly surprised how much more you’ll get done and how much progress you’ll make towards your big goals not to mention finishing your daily list of goals, which always feels great.

 

Daring to Dream Big

April 12, 2019 by  
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Years ago, I dreamed of being wealthy. I studied the lives of the rich, especially the ones who started from scratch. I mean, I really studied them and analyzed everything they did and how they did it. I discovered that millionaires are not a hundred times, or even ten times, smarter than you and me. And they aren’t working ten times longer or harder. How could they? There are only 168 hours in a week — no one gets any more than that. The difference was an honest to goodness and simple wealth formula that, if followed, works.

Before I discovered this wealthy formula, I lived in Denver, Colorado in a cramped and tumbled down house at 2545 S. High Street, near the University of Denver. I felt desperate and forced into a corner. I had to borrow a $150 from my father and another $150 from my father in law just to buy groceries and help pay the rent. If that wasn’t enough, I was several thousand dollars in debt, but I still kept studying the lives of the rich and dreaming of being a millionaire.

Then it happened. I met Larry Rosenberg, a man who became my mentor and showed me the simple formula that had made millions for him. He convinced me that I could do the same thing.

I began to apply the formula I had been shown. The results were amazing! I couldn’t believe how simple it was. In fact, it seemed too simple. (Please note, I said simple, not easy!) It did take work but oh, how that work was so very worth it!

For the next 3 ½ years, I worked very hard to refine and improve the formula that I’d been shown so it would be easier to get quicker results. As I did this, my assets and income multiplied very rapidly to the point that I didn’t have to work at my regular job. I quit!

The simple formula that I had been shown was to leverage income producing real estate —-as in small houses and apartment buildings. The key to building my fortune was to find run down properties that I loved to call “dirt bag properties”. These were properties that I could fix up and improve the value by 10 or 20 percent and then I could turn that 10% or 20% increase in value to 100% return on my investment, because of that great thing called “leverage”.

And as I’m sure you know a 100% return on your money can and will increase your net worth quite quickly! In my experience leverage income producing properties is the most reliable, fastest, and safest method of making big time money. Most people have a little bit of that “leveraged real estate” in the home they bought. But if you have to go a step further and but some dirt-bag or rental properties and fix them up and make those huge 100% percent returns. If you buy right, it will work wonders for you.

 

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.

The Fear Factor

February 22, 2019 by  
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Sometimes I re-read my own words from my journals and books that I have written, and it inevitably surprises me how my own words can reinvigorate, inspire and motivate me. And now that I’m almost 75, I suddenly realized how much this thing called “the fear factor” was holding me back on some of my projects, big dreams, and desires.

Quoting a few highlights from my own book, The Courage to Be Rich (I hope that’s not plagiarizing–ho ho):

ACTION GETS THINGS DONE. When we are fearful of something, if we push ourselves to take action, many times that will totally overcome our fear and a big plus is that we get stuff done and isn’t that pretty much the whole ball game or at least a lot of the game. Without action you could be the greatest financial thinker, have the highest IQ, and end up with very little money or even broke. When we are fearful, we really need to give ourselves a big push, even if we stumble and blunder a bit.

FEAR OF STARTING. Getting started is really the most frightening and the hardest part of virtually any task. But even if you do something wrong, at least “do something”. I am not saying take risks larger than you can afford. We all should take risks gradually, whether they are financial risks, social risks, or any other kind of risk.

Some time ago, I was on a flight and as we began our final approach (I wish they wouldn’t call it “final approach”) and as the plane was descending, I noticed the lady next to me was very nervous and somewhat freaking out. Thinking that if I diverted her attention by talking to her, that might calm her down and it did until the pilot let the flaps down and the plane lurched and bounced a bit. I quickly explained to her what the pilot had just done and that gave her a bit of relief. I then suddenly realized that I was in the same plane, in the exact same situation, but my heart rate and blood pressure were normal, unlike my seat mate.

CHRONIC FEAR IS YOUR REAL ENEMY. I knew the damage fear could do because it had done damage to me in the past. I finally realized that I was letting fear dominate my thoughts. I decided to do something about it. Since I travel a great deal, giving seminars or negotiating real estate deals and since being relaxed and rested at the end of a flight is important to my performance, it was very important not to waste so much energy wrestling with fear.

It didn’t take much thinking after that to figure out that the fear factor entered into many of my decisions that had far greater implications than did flying. Why should I let myself be fearful of flying or anything else? After all, does that fear change the outcome of the flight or my financial conditions? People who are the real doers and the super successful people in life face frightening situations almost every day, but they don’t let those confrontations with fear scare them to death or slow down their progress or stop their actions.

I want to write more about the “fear factor” in my next blog, but for now I will end this blog by listing some very common fears.

  1. Giving a speech to a large audience.
  2. Fear of making a fool of yourself.
  3. Fear of losing all your money–or at least a big part of what you have.
  4. Fear of losing your friends.
  5. Fear of losing the love and respect of someone you love.
  6. Fear of criticism.

There are certainly a lot more fears than this short list. Take a look at yourself and analyze your own fears and ask yourself the question as to whether those fears help your situation in the long run or even in the short run.

P.S.  I read that if you take a commercial flight, at random, every day for the rest of your life it would be about 20,000 years before you got on a plane that crashed–so obviously the fear of flying on a commercial plane in totally not rational!

 

Smart Money Hedges Bets In Tough Times

February 15, 2019 by  
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We’ve had quite a few very good years, economically speaking, and we may very well have a few more to come. There are, however, some warning signs that things are starting to change but it’s a slow change. Here are few things the so-called experts are predicting that, in my opinion, are very likely to happen:

  1. European expansion will slow down.
  2. Japan’s recovery will remain weak.
  3. China’s economy will keep decelerating.
  4. The rate of inflation will stay around 3%.
  5. The Feds will raise interest rates 3 times in 2019.

The experts, however, are predicting that changes will take maybe 2 or 3 more years, and will no doubt happen slowly. Regardless, many of us investors are thinking about hedging our financials that’s right now. You might ask why wouldn’t anybody or everybody hedge their bets if they knew tough times were coming? Of course, many people would, but the average person doesn’t know that tough times are ahead.

Smart money –money that is invested by people with expert knowledge – does not always do well either, but there are indications that give the smart money people a head start on everyone else. No, they are not always right, but they are more often than not.

A very important part of the formula is to be an independent thinker. The overall economy is like a gigantic river. Sure, you can swim upstream, but it is very difficult. What smart money does is watch the general direction of the flow of that giant stream. Smart money people know that the flow doesn’t suddenly turn around and run the over way.

So even though some of the experts are saying our markets and economy is ready to turn around and go down, it most likely will not happen fast. So, these days, I am advising people to do two things to hedge their money and investment bets:

#1 – Save cash. Build up a cash reserve to be invested after the economic pull back.

#2 – Even though you are building your cash reserves, keep making low ball offers to highly motivated sellers. Granted, there are not a lot of motivated sellers right now because the economy has been in an uptrend for quite a while and many people think it will continue. Still, there are always some motivated sellers out there that need to sell for various reason and some of these people need to do it now at under market prices.

Finding those motivated sellers and making those lowball offers is still smart money, especially if you can do so while building up your cash reserve. So, you might as well keep throwing you net out there and see what you can find. That kind of smart investing and saving is the kind of thing that will get you through the tough times, whenever it is they get here.

 

 

The 100% Return Goal

January 18, 2019 by  
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As we begin a new year it’s a very good time to remember the basics, specifically the basics of financial independence through which you make and keep your own fortune.  It’s so easy to forget the basics, especially when we are all caught up in the details of our daily lives, even those details that are involved with building our wealth. For example, if you have a big problem with the plumbing at a rental property or the property taxes just got bumped up, it’s easy to focus on just that, but that can get you frustrated or make you kind of space out on your overall plan.

What you should not forget is that you have to continue to look at the big picture, looking for ways to take advantage of leverage whereby you could earn as much as 100% of your money due to compounding. I’ve certainly been there and done that. Even on the very property that is giving me fits, I many times have failed to step back and realize that my equity on that very property has already exceeded a 100% return on my money and I should be motivated and reminded to keep doing that.

There is a simple example that I used in my fist book, How to Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You, where I showed how 1 single penny a day compounded at 100% a day turns into just over $339 million on the 35th day alone. Now I know there is no way you can compound your money at 100% per day, but it is possible to compound your money at 100% per year, especially in the first few years. The key to those huge numbers is using other people’s money (your leverage). So, maybe only 10, 20 or 30% of the price you pay is with your own money and then the rest is in a loan from the bank or the seller for the balance. It’s not only possible but many people are doing just that, every day, including myself and many people that I know and have helped.

I do know that finding beat up properties these days can be a bit more difficult, depending on where your market is, but things change and prices go up and down and you and I need to always be looking for those bargains, especially those properties that need fixing up, the ones I like to call “dirt bag properties”. Then, always remember that good ole leverage formula:
If your down payment is only 10%, and you improve the property enough to increase the value by 10% you have made a 100% return on your money. That formula is a little simplistic since it doesn’t take into account your expenses, but you can keep those pretty darn low if you do most of the work yourself. Just don’t let the goal of a 100% return on your investment scare you away because it seems too difficult. If you can get even part way there, say just a 30% return on your money per year on only $10,000, that fraction of the big goal will still add up to over $1,124,000 in just 18 years.

My big point here is that we must keep the big picture in mind and remember that those potential returns are there. If you do, it becomes easier to not be deterred or discouraged by those plumbing issues, property tax increases, or other relatively minor problems.  Keep your eye and your dreams focused on the big prize, because it is all together very possible to achieve that big goal.

My Words Out Loud

January 11, 2019 by  
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I have something very special for you today. Please take a listen to this pod cast I was on recently. There are a few things I share on it that I think can be very helpful to most people. I hope you like it and, if so, please share with others. Thank you so much for taking time to listen. This kind of thing is part of what I am doing to really try to be of help to others. Maybe it’s my age but I am all about sharing and helping these days!

 

The interviewer is Michelle Brown, a fellow Salt Lake City resident who teaches Life Story writing workshops. Get a nice warm beverage and sit back for a really interesting conversation. I hope you find it helpful and motivating!

 

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