My Damn Boss- The Millionaire Real Estate Investor
My Damn Boss
Grabbing the soggy carpet drenched in cat piss and shit I turned my head and nearly vomited. I was sweating profusely with a sanitary mask covering my mouth, some old throwaway clothes on and wearing thick rubber gloves on a mid summer day in Everett, WA.
I was contracted to gut the house and get it ready for the contractors to come in and assess the damage, of which there was plenty. The stench of the home could be smelled from the street on this hot summer day. The ex-tenant I was told had an unknown number of cats that never left the house and whom apparently did not use a litter box either, preferring the floor to which the tenant was apparently A-OK with.
I was 18 years old and had just graduated high school and got into the real estate business, joining up at Wilson Realty Exchange in Shoreline, WA. My Boss was a well-known Seattle Real Estate investor who had amassed a large fortune by buying rental property over the past 5 decades. He had between 100-300 homes at all times, sometimes selling units off, sometimes acquiring more depending on market conditions and his own estate planning goals.
He had decided to teach me a very valuable lesson this Friday morning. I went into his office and as a new broker wanting to let him know how motivated I was, I volunteered myself for any labor activities he needed help with to help supplement my income as I got going as an agent.
He sent me to this wonderful piss invested home for demo saying simply, I’ll give you $100 to rip out the carpets and cabinets in the kitchen and get it ready for the contractors to come in. I jumped at the opportunity site unseen and now I was regretting the decision cussing him out under my breath as I drug these heavy piss and shit filled carpets into the front yard while trying not to breath for fear of vomiting.
Monday morning I came in early, ready to get my $100 and focus my efforts on something a bit more ambitious.
“How’d it go over in Everett” Bob asked smiling?
“It’s all done”, I replied, barely glancing up from my desk.
“You see Rick, you can either work with these,” he explained holding up his hands.
“Or with this” He grinned pointing through his skull. “It’s up to you”
“Got it,” I replied trying not to let my anger shine through.
“Ok then, see you at the meeting” Bob said as he turned to walk upstairs to our weekly sales meeting.
Bob always had a funny way of teaching me things and in retrospect he was my first true mentor. He was a self described “old school, belly to belly business man” who had figured things out and built an amazingly profitable real estate portfolio valued in the millions, like way up in the millions.
Bob would take you to lunch and spend hours teaching through abstract ideals and indirect symbolism, something a young ambitious man like myself didn’t think I had the time for.
I thought I just needed a break, a silver bullet, a lifeline thrown my way when in reality I would have to create my own years later after a whole lot of trial, error and failure.
It makes more sense now.
11 years after pulling piss soaked carpets from that shitty little brown house on Bridge Way in North Everett I think I finally understand what Bob was trying to teach me.
Sure he was personally motivated by my success as a real estate salesman but he didn't need that 10% of my earnings, he did what he did because he enjoyed teaching the game of real estate, a sport that he was a bonafide legend in.
In my blind quest of chasing the lowest hanging dollar I never focused on the most important thing that Bob could possibly teach me. He was a good salesman, a decent managing broker at our office, but his true talent was finding and buying the best cash flowing rental properties in the city, something he always would hint that I had the same knack for.
Today after nearly 12 years in the business I've sold a ton of homes all of which brought me no closer to happiness, success or financial freedom. Being a real estate salesman was something I was pretty damn good at, but also something that held me back from realizing my true calling.
Having bought 3 properties for myself as well as one buy and flip that I had partnered on so I had experience in purchasing real estate, just never cash flowing rental real estate, which is a completely different genre of property. While I was excellent at finding these deals and selling them to clients, I put off my own long term investments for down the road when I "had the money".
Now having created my own passive income business and having earned my freedom of time and location, the time to come full circle and put into practice what Bob so desperately was trying to convey a decade ago, is upon me.
The Damn Green Notebook
I remember so many times coming into Bob’s office for guidance. He would dance around a few ideas, tell me to get out there and shake more hands and then usually refer back to a very similar speech I must had heard a dozen times.
“You know Rick”, he’d begin “when I was 26 years old I bought a notebook” he gestured holding up the green notebook that was always displayed prominently on his desk.
I’d think to myself, “Oh Jesus, not the notebook again”
“When I bought my first property I wrote down the price, the mortgage and the payments I needed to make in order to pay the home off in ten years and I’d record every payment when it was made.” He’d explain excitedly as if it were the first time we’d discussed this.
“I did this for my second, third, fourth, property and so on. In fact, I lived in a tiny little apartment by Greenlake I rented for $90 a month and never moved into a property I owned until I bought my tenth house.” He’d explain with a grin.
I heard this same story so many times that I didn’t know if he was just getting older, repeating stories as many old men do, or how exactly this was going to help me go out and make a sale.
Today I realize that what Bob was trying to say is for me to stop trying to find that sale, stop reaching for the lowest hanging dollar and begin building something. Go out, buy your own damn green notebook, make a plan and execute it. Not a sales plan, a life plan.
It took creating a business that freed my time and energy and gave me the void to fill, but I now realize what my next step in this journey is, in fact it could be nothing else. I wonder if I should head up to Seattle and go sit in Bob’s office just to hear the story one more time for old times sake.
Bob would be happy to know I’m going out in the morning and buying my own green notebook, leveraging all my experience and industry knowledge to find and purchase investment property, beginning a new chapter of wealth building and leveling up from a six figure income to real wealth. I will be keeping track of my progress monthly, both here and in my damn green notebook.