The Monk’s Tongue

10 years ago, I went to Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, California on a temple stay. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I learned anything. As it turns out, some good seeds were planted.

i have arrived

At lunch we were asked not to speak for the first 30 minutes. It was a time for mindfulness. I watched the monks in their brown robes chewing each bite of food into oblivion with content looks on their faces. Renowned Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh says “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

tnh

For these monks, it looked like the latter case—I mean, who can eat THAT slowly and still be having a good time? My thoughts drifted to one of the elders who had just finished his meal and was pouring some water in his begging bowl to make sure the leftover bits of food would not go uneaten. He swirled it around—it was the perfect bland finish for the bland food we were eating. Needless to say, that temple stay with the monks and nuns of Deer Park was NOT easy for me and it wasn’t something I appreciated until later. Or to be honest, about a month ago.

beggin bowl

It reminds me of what Steve Jobs referred to as “Connecting the dots” in a commencement speech he gave at Stanford. I realize now that it was during this temple stay where I learned how to develop what I call “the monk’s tongue” or TMT. More specifically, I realized that natural, unprocessed food has its own flavor without adding spices or salt—without adding butter and all those other culprits that dull the senses.

The secret is easy to understand: make you mouth terrifically bored.

So bored, in fact, that giving it broccoli is like a Chipotle burrito with guac and sour cream and extra cheese! Or cheesecake. Or gummi bears. Or whatever guilty pleasures you taste-buds crave. It takes time. But if I can do it, so can you.

TMT training is turning your taste buds onto natural, unrefined food. Apples turn into delicacies. Chicken breast (boiled) turns into succulent steak (almost). The health benefits are staggering. We all know how unhealthy it is to consume foods high in salt and all that other stuff that makes food taste “good”. Once you reign in those taste buds into some less exciting scenery, you’ll find you are eating healthy and you don’t even miss those Doritos as much as you thought you would. You will redefine what “good” tastes like. How in the world did we start thinking food made in a factory tasted good?

By the way, are you a “foodie”? Be a SUPER FOODIE. Discover quinoa, amaranth, chia seeds, flax seed, kale, acai. Learn that broccoli has chromium—a mineral for enhanced energy. By the way, if you decide to buy some superfoods, go to www.iherb.com (the best place for health foods) and use this code–>PRT779. Save $10 off your order. It will help me too.  

superfoods

Be your own nutritionist. Find out all about the properties of super-foods and then think about your body and your own psychological and physiological needs. Be aware and listen to your body.

These activities I mentioned in the last two paragraphs will keep you going while you develop your monk’s tongue. And once you do that, your boring tongue will lead you all the way to a healthy diet and healthy life. Dull down those taste-buds. It’ll be the best diet advice you get today.

The Monk’s Tongue

WEAK!

weak

Sometimes I feel pretty weak. I get up and don’t want to go to the gym. On those days, if early-bird children arrive to my bedside, they get: “Daddy’s tired. Let me sleep for a while. Go play.”

Zzzzzzzzzz.

Problem is, when I feel weak I don’t necessarily acknowledge it. I often put it on someone else, or flat out deny it. I get cranky. I drink coffee. And that just makes me WIRED and dehydrated and cranky.

When I feel weak, the universe seems like it conspires to get me-a big cosmic wet blanket. Whatever. Weak snowballs too; it goes from treatable to road rage to being critical with the kids. Read “Father Forgets” for a great story of a critical and repentant (and weak?) father. I’ll bet he needed more rest from the 9-5.

Like this morning, I have a low-grade cold. Feel weaaaaaaaaak! I know why (for once). I had spent the previous night up until 2 a.m. on the phone sorting out a real estate deal. Normally I’d be fine under these circumstances; however, over the past week I knew I hadn’t been getting enough sleep. What to do?

To overcome episodes of weakness, I suggest trying to become aware of the narrative that is your health. Seeing the cause and effect of your actions and how they play out physically and psychologically puts you in the driver’s seat and if you drive into a weak patch, chances are you’ll be more able to quickly pull a u-turn on the spot.

Why do we sometime get that weak vibe?

-Over exertion (thank you, Captain Obvious).

-Not enough rest 

-Lack of exercise
-Poor diet
-Lack of motivation / unclear life goals
-Dehydration (yes, in winter too!)
-Masking fatigue with coffee or worse…

I advise going through this checklist and seeing if any apply to you. Troubleshoot and solve.

If you are having trouble understanding your health narrative or being able to feel it, read my previous post explaining it. Be aware of your productivity and your production capacity.

How do you deal with it when you know you are off your game? Any special tips that help you get through?

WEAK!

The Bridge

bridge
A bridge like I saw today–except not as cold😉

As the wind whirled through the rice fields and into the bushes along the path, I heard a powerful sound—like the roar of the ocean. The cold air bit into my chest and I briefly regretted not wearing warmer clothes; on the other hand, hot blood was pumping in my body as I jogged and I could feel I had the upper-hand.

I came up on an old bridge to my right. It looked like it had been built about 50 years prior—probably by some rice farmer who begged his city council for the budget to carry out the task. He probably pointed out how that small bridge would half the time it took for rice to be carried to market—that way farmers wouldn’t have to go around the stream. I’m sure the city council told him to just carry on and make do with what he had. “Preserve the status quo.” I’ll bet that is what our future bridge-builder was told.

Undoubtedly he had similar thoughts himself. He probably doubted himself and wondered aloud: “Does saving some time warrant this investment?” And “Will I be able to recoup the expense?” And of course, “What if things don’t go as planned…I’ve never built a bridge before.” He was surrounded by doubters and doubted himself and yet he prevailed—at least in my imaginary tale.

It makes me think about bridges. A bridge can be any mammoth or microscopic investment of your time to realize a better future. It can be a chapter read from a single book, a phone call, sending a resume, forgiving someone, saying “good morning”, sending a text message, doing some research, googling something, or saying “sorry”. It really doesn’t matter how big the bridge you are building is, because you never know what is on the other side until after you cross it. It also doesn’t matter what the bridge construction is—you don’t have to use cement or wood. No need to copy other people. The fact is, you are connecting A to B. You might not even know what ‘B’ is, and that’s OK. You are learning something new and it will forever change your life.

The Bridge

The Eagle and the Salmon

Nobody believed my Dad when he used to tell the story of The Eagle and the Salmon to dinner guests. I don’t know why—I was there and witnessed it. What surprises me 30 years later is the relevance this story has on my perceptions of how to invest, raise my kids and teach financial literacy to them—with a little discovery channel mixed in.

It was another beautiful day at Cape Mudge, where the We Wai Kai First Nation Band operates a close-knit community in BC Canada. I used to love going to Cape Mudge, because that is where I would go “jigging” for tommy cod—snagging little fish with a lure. There were always some interesting people hanging out around the docks as well—Junior (about 6 foot 3 and 250 pounds), his wife Tanya, who was probably the prettiest girl I had ever seen, and Ralph Dick, the Chief Councilor.

While busy with my fishing, I noticed my Dad talking to Dick and he was explaining the symbolism of a Haida totem pole that we happened across as we made our way to the dock.

haida pole

Dick was gesturing with his arms and hands and my Dad was watching him as he told this story, which I later found out, was a tale about The Eagle and the Salmon. My dad was clearly engrossed in the story and was visibly startled to hear Dick shout: “LOOK”!

Unbeknownst to us, Dick’s story was being acted out! Our whole family suddenly looked in the direction he was pointing—about 20 yards from the edge of the pier.

bald-eagle-catching-fish-john-hyde

An eagle had just done some fishing of its own. In its talons was a 10-pound salmon. Its good fortune was quickly tempered: not only was the salmon exceedingly heavy (I could see the eagle struggling to fly more than a few feet off the water back to the shore) but his efforts had also attracted the interest of a slew of voracious seagulls.

seaguls

They pestered him and pestered him. Finally, the noble eagle, sick and tired of them (and their noise) left the salmon on the shore and flew back up to his nest tucked high up in the canopy of the tree.

It was the story of predator and scavenger. Actually, it was the story of predator and scavenger AND scavenger. This is when my dad rushed over to the beach and grabbed the salmon from those idiotic seagulls. We cooked it and ate it that night!

What bearing could this story have on finance? Investing? Is this just a story of predator and prey?

Opportunity exists at any time and any place; you have to be ready to grab that salmon when you see it. Yes, but there is more to it than that.

You need to keep your end game in mind! What a pity that eagle gave up after all his hard work. He was circling the skies all morning to feed his young chicks. Finally he sees a salmon and some loser seagulls take it from him. Actually, they were just chattering away and soliciting on the shore right before all this went down—I saw them!

How many people follow suit? They find an investment property that is too big for them to handle (10 pounds!), fail to adequately plan, run into financial problems, and then get forced to sell. Maybe the eagle didn’t order an inspection? Possibly, he over-improved the property or ran out of bird seed on renovations? Who knows!  The message is clear: it’s great to be the eagle, but make sure you can follow through on your plan.

Eagle catching a fish

What do the seagulls represent? Scavenging off people to make money doesn’t ultimately add value to the community at-large. As an investor, I want to build value for myself and the common good; in a deal, one doesn’t have to lose so the other can win.

So what is an investor? How does investing fit into this dialogue? Gary Keller points out:

“By definition, your goal is to remove risk from the transaction. You have to get an appropriate discount (20% less Market Value) or Terms on the property, or you can’t do the deal. You’re a willing and reliable buyer who is prepared to act quickly and solve the problem. The solution you offer may not be exactly what the seller wants, but it may be the best option he or she has.”

Is giving someone an option something that a scavenger would do? No. Not if it is done in an honest and up-front way. I don’t think offering a viable solution should ever be considered a bad thing. After all, if your proposal is better than what the next investor is offering, it would be great for the seller to have. Whether you are low-balling someone or offering a reasonable offer could be a contentious point. Consult the comparable listings and your conscience.

what’s the message to the kids?

My wife cringed when I told her why this story could be a good teaching tool for our children. She had the following points/questions:

  • Josh… [reproachfully] Your dad scavenged from a scavenger!
  • So, you want our kids to act like seagulls?
  • So, you want our kids to act like predators?

I don’t have an answer for #1. If this story didn’t have a connection to ethical investing, it probably wouldn’t even come up. People would just think it was a cool story. Also, it isn’t easy carrying an analogy this far, either!

For the others, I would say NO and NO. I don’t want my kids or anyone else’s to be scavengers or cold predators. It isn’t about predators, prey, or scavengers.  It’s that tried and true advice of Stephen Covey, to find a “win-win” solution. Also, work hard like the eagle, but don’t forget to work smart like those seagulls.

It sounds like humans beat nature once again, right? Unfortunately, in this story everyone lost! The Eagle lost his salmon, the Seagulls, their free lunch. Yes, and the salmon—he had the biggest lost. Oh, and lastly, we lost too—our family spent the next day getting over food poisoning.

The Eagle and the Salmon

Pay Yourself First With Exercise

I don’t know if you’re like me, but after lunch I feel pretty sleepy sometimes; it’s around the time when I contemplate a power nap–in a place where someone won’t glue my hand to my face. In a place where a significant other won’t look at me with a WTF? face. Taking a nap is a guilty pleasure–one I sometimes indulge in.

Cat-Nap

However, a nap isn’t always key. 30 minutes of exercise seems to bring me back from zombie-land, followed by a strong coffee; the Roasterie is the ultimate coup de grâce, for doing battle with the sandman. 

Roasterie_icon

        I function pretty well for the rest of the day. But it’s not easy, I know.                           Because after lunch my entire entity is focusing on the act of digestion-                      Because after lunch is when I fuse to the seat of my office chair- 

Before it get’s to that point, be alert and make a conscious decision:

Go for the nap

or

Go for the glory

glory

Stairs, jumping rope, burpees, a brisk walk–these are all activities I enjoy right after lunch when I have decided that my productivity would be enhanced more by exercise than by a nap. It’s not easy, but after a while I have learned the difference between really needing a nap and when it’s possible to re-energize through exercise. Previously, I discussed Stephen Covey’s words of wisdom in keeping your golden goose pumping out golden eggs–if you haven’t read it, click here.

TRANSLATIONS OF SUCCESS

eXERCISE AFTER LUNCH IS sort of like paying yourself first. That’s right, it is sort of like the financial principle of setting aside money BEFORE you pay taxes and buy stuff you don’t need: Like this Nespresso Capsule Coffee Maker I bought. 

nespress

Exercise, like financial investment, usually doesn’t happen unless you budget for it. If you pay yourself first, you are ensuring that you will get some much needed investment in your HEALTH. 

While a power nap is sometimes a great way to recharge, it isn’t the only way. Get some exercise and mix it up. You may find needing to take a nap is something you need to do less and less frequently.

Got tips on going strong throughout the day? Feel free to get the dialogue started in the comments section.

-Josh

Pay Yourself First With Exercise

The Shoe Box Database


HERE ARE A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS THIS BLOG POST  WILL ADDRESS:

1. What is the simplest method of constructing a database to provide invaluable leads on a daily basis? 

2. As a Realtor, where do you find leads?

IN THIS INTERVIEW, GARY KELLER MAPS OUT HOW HE SOLD 6 HOUSES IN HIS FIRST MONTH AS A FRESHLY MINTED GRADUATE OF BAYLOR UNIVERSITY IN TEXAS.

WHY WOULDN’T YOU LISTEN TO THE MASTER OF THE REAL ESTATE UNIVERSE?

UNPACKAGE THE BEAST!

HEMAN

WATCH THE VIDEO

OR

SKIM MY CLIFF NOTES BELOW🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btvvoSsHwTE

HOW TO BUILD YOUR SHOE BOX DATABASE

shoebox database

1) GET TWO SHOE BOXES. GET TWO FOLDERS.

2) LABEL BOX #1 “CONTACTS.” ADD CONTACTS BY LAST NAME ALPHABETICALLY

3) LABEL BOX #2 “MONTHS.” DIVIDE INTO MONTHS.

4) FIND PEOPLE TO CONTACT. YOU CAN HIRE SOMEONE P/T 2 HOURS A DAY TO LOOK FOR THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION OR YOU CAN DO IT.

FSBO’S
EXPIRED LISTINGS
NEWLY-WEDS
ANYONE WHO COULD USE YOUR SERVICES

5) MAKE TWO FOLDERS. FOLDER #1 CONTAINS YOUR CALL LIST FROM                     STEP 4. FOLDER #2 CONTAINS NOTES ON WHAT YOU DID WITH THE CALL LIST—WHAT PLANS YOU MADE, WHAT PEOPLE SAID, WHEN NEXT CONTACT WILL BE. UPDATE THE DATABASE.

-MAKE A PLAN OF FUTURE CONTACT; GIVE SOMETHING OF VALUE—A NEWSLETTER, A CALENDAR.

6) EVERY MORNING, TAKE THE CALL LIST AND MAKE CALLS. GIVE ANNOTATED CALL LIST TO ASSOCIATE WHO WILL MAKE ENTRIES FOR FOLLOW-UP. THIS GOES INTO BOX #2. ALSO REMEMBER TO MAKE CALLS / DELIVER TO PEOPLE YOU PROMISED SOMETHING TO IN BOX #2.

7) REPEAT THIS PROCESS EVERYDAY; THE MORE CALLS YOU MAKE THE BETTER. EVERY “NO” GETS YOU CLOSER TO A “YES.”

SOME FINAL NOTES FROM GARY…

ASK YOURSELF: HOW LONG IS IT GOING TO TAKE TO VISIT THE PEOPLE IN YOUR DATABASE THAT YOU HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH?

THE GAME IS: KNOWING HOW MANY CONTACTS YOU NEED TO HAVE FOR YOUR GOALS—BECAUSE THIS MAKES IT REAL AND CONCRETE.

KELLER WILLIAMS NEEDED 80,000 AGENTS TO BECOME THE LARGEST REAL ESTATE COMPANY IN THE UNITED STATES. THEY GOT THEM BECAUSE THEY KNEW EXACTLY HOW MANY THEY NEEDED.

HOW MANY ____ DO YOU NEED TO GET YOU TO YOUR GOAL?

Even though it seems like the shoe-box system seems way too old school for a blog post, it really isn’t. These are the nuts and bolts of even the most sophisticated database system. If you master this system the first month on the job, I’ll bet you’ll be walking the footsteps of Gary Keller before you know it. 

The Shoe Box Database

Sweep Away These 5 Investing Myths

The usual disclaimer: I’m reading Gary Keller’s book, The Millionaire Real Estate Investor. It’s a great book and this is the 2nd time I’ve read it. This time, I’m taking notes!

free deals

So last time, we looked at 3 PERSONAL myths—the kind of ideas that prevent us as individuals from becoming investors. Now, there are some INVESTING MYTHS that need to be swept away.

Myth 1: Investing is Complicated

Well, here we can go back to Paretto’s Principle (see 1st blog post). If you are able to identify the 20% of investing that accounts for 80% of the results, you will see that investing is not as complicated as you may have suspected. A good example of this is spending too much time on Zillow (GUILTY!), scouring everywhere for a good investment (GUILTY again) and ignoring your criteria (STRIKE 3). If you have a good network, the deals will come to you and you won’t have to do this. That is to say, instead of reinventing the wheel, there are some models that can be studied and you can stand on the shoulders of those who have ALREADY become successful investors.

Myth 2: The Best Investments Require Knowledge Most People Don’t Have

The legendary fund manager, Peter Lynch once said: “Invest in what you know.” Back in the day, Dunkin’ Donuts was America’s favorite donut. Before long, their stock went gangbusters before finally going private. It wouldn’t have taken any specialized knowledge to realize this—only a desire for a guilty pleasure. Likewise, if you notice that your neighborhood is becoming gentrified, which is a fancy word for a neighborhood that is getting, well, fancy, who is in a better place to capitalize on this than anyone else. Invest in what you know or can learn (you know more than you think)—and ignore the rest.

Myth 3: Investing is Risky—I’ll Lose My Money

Investing is not the same as craps, right? RIGHT? Investing is not the same as poker. Investing is not the same as speculating or putting some money on the table and crossing your fingers—or buying penny stocks.

So then, why do people equate investing with gambling and speculating? I think people try to legitimize gambling by calling it “investing”. If you are INVESTING, you have a “CTN trio”—a set Criteria, Terms you use to make deals, and a Network that supports you along the way. By following your CTN, you are mitigating risk. If you are gambling, you are buying a stock in an industry you don’t understand because of a random tip you heard. If you are investing, you are applying your criteria and committing capital to things you understand.

Myth 4: Successful Investors Are Able To Time The Market

After I read this section, I put up two quotes on my Facebook account.

“Any time an opportunity meets your strict criteria and you act, you have timed the market successfully.”

“Timing isn’t about being in the right place at the right time; it’s about being in the right place ALL the time.”

Personally, it has been difficult to kill/tame that inner voice that watches other people nail an investment and summarize: “wow, they were in the right place at the right time!” Wrong! They had a criteria; they were plugged in; they were active; when the deal arose, they pounced. They were there the WHOLE time!

When we invest in this and that or whatever everybody else is investing it, opportunities sort of pop up and since we aren’t prepared or understand them thoroughly, we can’t whack them without adding in too much R-I-S-K. It’s like Gopher Smash.gopher smash

If, on the other hand, you stake out a few holes you are familiar with, you will improve your timing dramatically.

Myth 5: All The Good Investments Are Taken

Easy to believe that the good time to invest in real estate is over. Now it is “coming around” you might say. If only you had bought some foreclosures during/after the 2008-2009 financial crisis! There are two ways of looking at this. Keller mentions the market never stops minting deals for you to go find.

“[there are] a second set of human, or personal, forces that are always present and can create additional and significant investment opportunities. Some arise from positive circumstances such as relocation, marriage, and family growth. Others arise from negative conditions such as divorce, death, and debt.”

Keller points out that those claiming “All the good deals are already gone” fail to take into consideration the ripples personal forces create. The market is not static; it is moving and constantly changing. Every market has its fair share of deals.

No more mythology or smashing gophers after this post. We are going to see how Keller trains us to THINK like a millionaire. It’s a little self-help finely tuned for the real estate investor in mind.

Have anything to add? It would be great to hear from you.

-Josh

Sweep Away These 5 Investing Myths