Last week I wrote about the mafia guy Sam “Mooney” Giancana and how he used systems to build and manage a huge, albeit illegal and vicious, financial empire. I’m not encouraging you to use his particular systems but it is a wild example of just what can be done when you have good systems in place. So the question now is, what kind of systems will work for you to allow you to dramatically increase your income and at the same time give you more free time to do whatever you like and enhances your life?
Before we can go over what a system is and how you develop it, you must understand this:
Grand Strategies Pay Huge Dollars and Details Drain Your Time.
Look at most people’s lives and you’ll find that they spend the majority of time wrapped up in the details. No, that’s not the way they planned it, but it’s so easy to get sucked into that habit. One big footnote here is you must realize that some people thrive on detail. And that’s okay, it’s just that if you really like the detail then you probably need to accept the fact that your road to huge automatic streams of income will be much harder for you. On the other hand, it’s these kinds of super detail loving people you need to hire to do the details for you.
If you’re a big ideas person, the struggle may be keeping focused. Ever notice how, when you’re away from home and business, usually on vacation, you can come up with some darn good strategies and systems for success? But then, when you get home, the details of your life and business pull you away and you lose focus of those great ideas you came up with when you were away from it all. So the number one strategy needs to be a plan to back away from it all, to get a clear mountaintop view of your business and your investments or potential investments. You must be able to see your own financial big picture.
Once you have that mountain top view and you figured out what your grand strategy is going to be then you need to start getting systems into place. When I started out to dramatically increase my income and net worth, my grand strategy was to build my fortune with income producing properties. To speed up the process I decided to find “dirt bag” properties that I could fix up and sell for a good profit. I found out very quickly how the details can just suck up your time so my first “grand system” was to start delegating these details to other people. Everything from using dozens of real estate agents to look for properties that fit my criteria to very inexpensive workers to do the hard labor required for the face lifts the properties needed.
I clearly remember the first apartment building I bought. It was twelve super dumpy, dirty, rundown units. That’s where I learned my big lesson about systems, especially about details and delegation. In the beginning I thought it would be smart to save a few bucks since I was way short of cash and take over as the resident manager even though I didn’t live on the property. Wow, was that ever stupid! Fortunately, within a few months I realized that the details were not only driving me crazy but, more importantly, they were sucking my time and energy which was destroying my outlook on buying more properties.
So you see, right here is the biggest rub. If you’re handling all the details and you hate it, why would you ever want to buy more properties which will only bring you more frustration and problems? Of course the answer is that you wouldn’t. Always remember, if you want to double or triple or even gather 5 times your income, you will always need to delegate the details!!
Ridiculous! Most people won’t believe the next sentence, but it can be absolutely true if you want it to be: The average person can increase their income by 5 times and spend less time working than they do now.
Yes, that’s true, and I can prove it in just a few minutes. Then you can go out and do it.
A few years ago as I lay basking on the beautiful Poipu Beach in the South Pacific, I was reading, Double Cross, the story of Sam “Mooney” Giancana. Sam ran the Chicago Mob for years, involving “the outfit”, as they called it, in prostitution, numbers, vending and protection (a nice word for extortion) of legitimate businesses ranging from garbage collection to barber shops. They also were involved in running drugs, money laundering, motels, restaurants, night clubs and hijacking, to name just a few more.
How did Sam find the time to manage, direct and control such a vast cash generating empire? Sam was not even what you would call an educated man, so how did he do it? He saw the big picture and knew the key to his own personal success was in the “systems”. Nobody has more than 168 hours in a week to get things done–so to expand or clone yourself you must devise “systems” that work automatically, whether you are awake, asleep, working in Washington or playing tennis in Tangiers. And Sam had developed just such systems, systems that, once set up, would run on auto pilot most of the time. When the system slowed down or broke, he would fix it. Granted, his methods to fix the system were more than a little harsh. For us non-criminals when our tenant, broker or employee makes a mistake we might want to put them on some kind of probation or fire them rather than break their leg or rub them out.
Can you see the vision here? If you organize your life and business to run automatically without you–with income constantly coming in, especially from one source, then that gives you free time to work on other ideas, dreams and develop more income sources. Then you can literally increase your income by 2 or 3 times and even by 5 times and work less than you do now!
Personally, one of my initial driving forces was the thought or question of how my family would get along if I died the next day. So I went to work with that somewhat negative motivation and in a very few years I had arranged more than 95% of my income to flow in on auto pilot which gave me lots of time to work on more income streams. How was that done? In a word, Systems.
This week I just wanted you to take away the idea that you can make more money and work less by simply developing systems that can bring in automatic income. Next week I will tell you what kind of systems I used and that you can use to increase your income or just to give you more time to do other fun things.
Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a huge believer in setting goals. Of course that’s the major them of my book How to Ignite Your Passion for Living. Goal setting grabbed my attention in a very big way even back when I was in high school.
As a pole vaulter then and in college my goals were in feet and inches. As soon as I reached a certain height, I would set a new goal a few inches higher–from 10 feet 6 inches to 10 feet 9 inches then 11 feet. After a ton or work, trying over and over again, I finally was consistently clearing 12 feet and eventually I peaked out at 14 feet 1 inch. Back then, in 1962, the world record was just over 16 feet, so I wasn’t doing too badly. But, no, I didn’t set the world record. Still setting those goals kept me completely engaged and excited about life. Such physical, self-competitive goals aren’t the only goals that can do that for you. Just about any goal will do that for you if it’s something you really want.
To get that jazzed feeling every day, be sure to constantly set goals for yourself. It will keep you passionate about your life and living and of course there is a Big Bonus in that you end up accomplishing so many things. So my message this week is push yourself to set more goals, and tough goals, in all parts of your life –physical, mental, family, charitable and, yes, don’t forget financial goals. I promise you as you do this you will enjoy each hour and each day more.
By the way, as you may already know, it helps to tell people that are close to you (as long as they are positive people) what goals you have set for yourself because when you know they are watching, you are more likely to stick with them and they also can act as a cheer leader for you. I myself have been sharing with you my goal of working out every day until I turned 70 and just knowing I told you about that makes even more dedicated. I just can’t let you down.
So you know. I am still on track with that goal which is 46 weeks from now. I was sick one day last week and hurt my back on another day but I still got a work out in. Yes it hurt physically but, wow, I sure got a huge mental boost from sticking with my goal! That’s 83 out of 84 days that I have kept up my work outs. Pretty good! Now, what goal do you have?
Well, did you start doing it? Did you start looking for a house to buy as an investment or a place to live and profit from today’s super low interest rates? If you don’t know what I’m talking about go read my blog post from last week entitled “Money Money Money”. Maybe I should have called it “Low Rates Low Rates Low Rates”.
If you are already in a very comfortable place financially and either don’t need to or don’t want to make some easy money (I probably shouldn’t call it “easy money” it’s more like “simple money” because it does take work!), then may I suggest you talk to your kids or friends that may not be so comfortable but have the drive, desire and energy. You can be a major financial mentor for them and they will love you for doing it and you will get a ton of satisfaction knowing that you directed them and helped them.
I receive so many messages from people coast to coast and even from foreign countries, thanking me for my financial advice, for giving them the motivation to get up and get moving and for making good financial things happen in their lives. There are not many things in the world that give a person more satisfaction and contentment than knowing you’ve helped someone make major improvements in their lives.
And I’m not talking just about money. Just helping people believe in themselves and motivating them to be proactive in any and every part of their lives is what it is really about. Having a solid financial situation is certainly a good thing and can help in a myriad of ways but there is more to life than money. Bottom line … help others to reach their goals with encouragement and constant support. You will get your reward in the happiness it brings you to see them bring about what is important to them into their lives.
We all want it and we all need it—and some people will do most anything to get it. Right now there are a few things you can do to really cash in big time. I don’t mean to say that money is the most important thing in the world but if you don’t have any, or not very much, it certainly makes life pretty darn rough!
What many, if not most people, don’t fully realize is that there are some critical choices and critical timing of those choices that can make all the difference in the world. It should be obvious that the “choice” of making the most income that you can and at the same time keeping spending lower than your level of income is a very good thing. By doing that you create savings and with enough savings you can make investments that, if you do it right, can give you passive income that makes your life smoother, more pleasant and rather easy. But … what about those investment choices and, maybe even more important, that thing called “timing”.
My advice to most everyone, at least here in the USA, has to do with what you could and should be doing RIGHT NOW!! Recently I said to my adult children, “You know, if you are financially wise and want to make some huge strides in your financial situation right now is the time to act! And, acting right now will pay huge dividends in the near and distant future.” What are those actions that I encouraged them to take and they are doing even as I write this blog?
Ok, here’s the simple advice which could easily be called “Million Dollar Advice”! Go buy a house or maybe 2 houses or a duplex or even more. That’s pretty simple but it’s almost sure to make my children or you a ton of money. You may be saying “Wait a minute. Prices have already bottomed out and have moved up in the last year or so and more in the last few months. You’re right but that’s OK because the big if not the huge reason to buy now is not because the possible continuing rise in values (and it might well slow down a bit) but because of a thing called “Interest Rates” or should I say ”Super Duper Low Interest Rates!” Just take a look at where we are now and where we used to be and very likely will return.
Monthly Payment on a $400,000 Loan for 30 years
Today’s interest rates are:
Rates in past years & probable future years:
Now at first glance that may not seem like a huge difference but … over the life of the 30 year loan–the difference between the 7% loan and the 3.5% loan is almost a third of a million dollars ($958,035.60 on the 7% loan and $646,624.80 on the 3.5% loan.) The big bonus is that today’s rental rates are going up and up, so you can rent those houses or a duplex’s out for more and more. Just think … 3 properties could make you almost a million bucks over the life of the loan not counting the cash flow that is possible. And what if you had more than that? At the top of my “rental property career” I owned more than 1,000 units! How does that sound to you?
I hope I have inspired you to go out and take advantage of these super low interest rates. They won’t last more than maybe one or two years longer and maybe even shorter than that. In other words, this is not the time to hesitate. It is the time to buy!
We are all afraid of making mistakes to some extent. Our society has us thinking that mistakes and failure are shameful things. The strange thing is, we learn best by our mistakes yet the fear of making them often keeps us from taking action. So how are we to learn much of anything if we aren’t out there making those mistakes?
When you have big goals, like creating a large personal fortune, starting a business or even starting a family, you may keep yourself from taking the first step because of the fear of making a mistake. The thing is, the real mistake becomes not taking that first step!
You need to not only accept that you will make mistakes but look forward to seeing what you can learn from them. When you have big goals, you will need to become dependent on your ability to overcome and learn from your mistakes. That is the only way you will be able to move forward and accomplish what you are after.
So go ahead, make a mistake or two. Or ten. Or twenty. It’s perfectly normal and it means you are trying something rather than doing nothing!
Someone once said if you want to change your life, you need to change your thinking. Yes, most people have heard that and agree but changing your thinking is not an easy task. There are, however, some subtle but very powerful forces inside your brain that can work for you or against you. Sadly too many people don’t recognize it or at least if they do they don’t know how to direct those forces for their own huge benefit. This powerful force has various names and it can be the best thing in your life but it also can be very sneaky in sabotaging you.
This force is often called your “inner voice”. It also has been called self-talk or even your inner chatterbox. Some would say it’s just your sub-conscious. Others would say it’s God talking to you. The good news–or should I say even great news–is that regardless of the source, many super successful people have learned how to use and direct that inner voice and it has enhanced their life almost beyond words. Using and directing your inner voice to improve your life doesn’t happen overnight and even after you become very good at self-talk directing, you need to stay ever aware of that chatterbox inside your head and continue to step in and keep the self-talk positive so you continue to move toward your life goals.
We talked about this a bit last year but I thought this was about the time of year we could all use a reminder of this. We set goals at the beginning of the year. We’ve taken the first steps, perhaps made some progress but it is about now that the hard parts are coming up or we’ve hit a few snags and are starting to get discouraged. Remember, that negative talk is just your inner voice trying to talk you down because it’s getting difficult. But hey, the most fulfilling accomplishments are those you come to after overcoming the hard stuff, right?
So turn any negative talk into positive, supportive self-talk. Think of that inner voice as your cheerleader, the voice that will keep you going, remind you of why you are doing what you are doing and will help you get through the more challenging tasks. It’s always easier to move forward when you have good, positive friends along. Why not make your inner voice one of those friends?
Okay, so we’ve gone over the first 3 big steps you need to take towards creating your fortune. I did want to reset the order a bit so if you are just starting, start with writing out your goals. These will keep you energized and motivated. Step #2 will be building and acquiring your beginning capital; Step #3, start making low ball offers on ‘dirt bag’ properties and get one legally tied down.
So now we come to Big Step No. 4 …
Let’s say that after you’ve made about 2 dozen very low offers, you get one back that is accepted. So now what do you do? Well, there are three things …
1. Conduct a very thorough inspection
2. Do your calculations as to the cost of the fix up or face lift.
3. Calculate your overall investment and potential profit to see if it will give you the return that you need.
Let’s say there’s a small house that was listed at $187,500. You offered $144,000 but received a counter offer of $160,000 which you are happy to conditionally accept. (Hey … they were motivated sellers since the house had been on the market for over a year.) After inspection you’ve been able to determine that $16,000 plus your hard labor over about 6 months will complete the face lift and the bank has agreed to finance it with 20% down ($32,000). You check for comparable properties in the vicinity that are in really good shape (go to Zillow.com to do this) and estimate you can sell it for, say, a net of $204,000 dollars.
Now you crunch the numbers to see if going through with this deal meets your “rate of return” goal.
$204k less your purchase price of $160k and less the money you put in to fix it would give you a profit of $28,000 dollars. Here’s where the magic of leverage comes in—you used $32k as a down payment and the $16k to improve it for an out of pocket investment of $48k. Even though you improved the property value by 27.5%, the return on your money, the money you used to invest in this, would actually be 58.3%. And if you borrowed the $16k your return on your money would be even higher.
So does a 58.3% rate of return in 6 months or so give you enough compounding? Go check a compounding table and see what would happen to that 58.3% in a few years if you keep doing this! Are you getting excited? If so, read my book “The Next Step to Waking up the Financial Genius Inside You” to really get you on track. In fact, I will give the first 10 motivated readers the book for free! I’ll even pay the shipping. Just write to me at email@example.com with your shipping address so I can help get you moving towards creating your fortune.
So now that we’ve gone over the first 3 big steps to building your fortune, it’s time to get to the very important Big Step No. 4. But before I lay that out, I thought we ought to talk about the power behind what you are about to do, the power of leverage and compounding.
My first introduction to leverage and compounding was as a stockbroker in the 70′s. I wanted in the worst way to make a fortune and do it quickly. I knew that there were seemingly ordinary people making millions of dollars in a matter of a few short years. What I didn’t understand was how that was possible. My thinking was stuck in the mindset of trading my hours for dollars and with only 168 hours in a week even with a decent hourly rate of $25 it would take 20 years to hit a million and that’s with the ridiculous assumption that I would not spend a dime or pay taxes!
Then I was introduced to leverage and compounding by Larry Rosenberg, a new brokerage client of mine and soon to be mentor. At that point I was becoming quite adept at bond trading and was shocked early on when I figured out I could make 100% return in a matter of weeks. I could buy $100,000 worth of bonds with only $5,000 or my own money, borrowing the rest from the brokerage firm. That’s using leverage. So if the bond price moved up just 5% the bonds would be worth $105,000 turning my 5k to 10k! Eureka! I had just discovered a money machine! But the bad news is that I could just as easily lose all my money if the bonds dropped 5%.
Larry Rosenberg introduced me to a safer, more consistent and more controllable asset: improved real estate. With this you could make a 100% return in 6 months to a year and do it with consistency and very little risk. But what Larry made me see that got me super motivated was what a 100% return per year will do to even a very small amount of money. $1,000 dollars at 100% compounded return will grow to the incredible sum of more than a third of a billion dollars in just 35 years! Although a consistent 100% may be hard to sustain, I did it for a while and reached my first million net worth in 47 months with only a couple thousand dollars to start.
This may all just sound like numbers now but in the next few weeks I will go into more detail with specific examples of improved real estate deals you can make so you can put these powerful concepts to work.
Since we’ve just started a new year I must say something about renewing and re-dedicating ourselves to our life goals. And there is one super strong and time proven aid I would strongly suggest you use to increase your odds of hitting your goals. It’s something I talk about in my book “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living” but I have another source to show you just how powerful it can be.
For Christmas my son David gave me a book called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg and WOW what a great book. Duhigg relies on scientific studies to dissect what it takes to form a new habit or dump a habit that you don’t like. In future blogs I want to talk more about “The Power of Habit” but for now I want to address one simple but profound Scottish study that is Duhigg addresses.
In this study a psychologist recruited 60 patients that just had hip or knee replacement surgery. Having personally experienced double hip replacement in the same surgery I know just how painful this kind of surgery can be. Most people don’t want to even move afterward, let alone start walking even though their rehabilitation requires it. This psychologist gave each patient a booklet after their surgeries that detailed their rehab schedule, and in the back were 13 additional pages –one for each week–with blank spaces and instructions:
“My goals for this week are ________________? Write down exactly what you are going to do. For example, if you are going to go for a walk this week, write down where and when you are going to walk.”
Patients were asked to fill in each of those pages with specific plans. After their rehabilitation period the psychologist compared the recovery results of those that filled out the pages and those that did not. Duhigg notes that “It seems absurd to think that giving people a few pieces of blank paper might make a difference in how quickly they recover from surgery.” But it did. Those patients that wrote down their goals recovered much faster than those who didn’t write down a thing.
The great lesson and a lesson that I’ve preached to myself and others for years is we greatly improve our chance of success many times over if we simply write our goals down! Financial goals, physical goals, family and social goals … it works on all of them. I would also add that you shouldn’t forget to put down the date by which you want to accomplish those goals.
You can read more about goal setting and how written goals can help you in my book “How to Ignite Your Passion for Living” which is on sale right now on my website.