New Quotes I Live My Life By

Anybody who knows me knows that I am big on self-improvement. I pick up a lot from the lessons of Freemasonry. I also listen to a lot of Podcasts. Some of them are light podcasts on historical topics, but a lot of them are  self-improvement (Art of Manliness, Tim Ferris Show, Art of Charm) and real estate education (Get Rich Education, Real Estate Guys, Bigger Pockets) and I pull a lot of platitudes from them that seem to stick. I posted about a bunch of them 2 years ago So, here are some of my more recently adopted maxims.

“Do the math and the math will tell you what to do.” Russel Gray of The Real Estate Guys

This is one that I get from the Real Estate Guys and also my good friend and mentor, Charles, who dropped some knowledge on me recently. This applies to any negotiation or deal, but I apply it to a BRRR (Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance) real estate strategy. When examining a deal, you have to plug numbers into your Bigger Pockets calculator (or other calculation device) to see how much to pay for the property for based on how much it will cost to do the rehab and how much you can safely pull out of it once the rehab is done. And don’t pay a penny more.

If you have taken the time to work all of these numbers out and you get to the bargaining table and the price goes beyond that point, you should just walk away.

Of course it’s not always that easy because there’s a lot of emotion involved, there’s the myth of sunken costs of time invested, and a whole host of distractions.

A good example of this was given to me by Charlie via anecdote. He was in a meeting with his client who was trying to sell his business. The client had carefully examined the books and the business, and had formulated a valuation of how much he thought the company was worth. When negotiations started, he saw his client getting caught up in the moment and was edging toward taking less money than his valuation. Charlie pulled his client aside and said (I paraphrase) “What about your calculations have changed from before this meeting to now?”

Boom.

His client was ignoring the math screaming out to him to walk and if not for Charlie’s wise counsel, would have walked away from the table feeling pretty bad about taking less than his company was worth.

“Overestimate your costs and underestimate your profit.” Charlie

I’m sure this concept was not coined by my mentor and Masonic Brother Charlie, but he put it  so succinctly that I felt I should use that phrasing. This is such a simple concept. Sometimes when analyzing a deal, it is so tempting to give your calculations slim enough margins to try to make the deal work on paper. “Oh, well, I can shave $4k off the budget if the roof ends up being fine for another couple of years,” or estimating that you will receive the high end of the rent range for that market. (I know, I’ve done this.)

Do not do that. Avoid this line of reasoning at all costs.

If you use conservative estimates for your deal and it’s still a good deal, then if the worst case scenario happens you are still profiting. And when the best case scenario happens, you are all the more in profit.

“Be Willing to Walk Away”

This one is hard for me. How do you just walk away from something that you really want? I’ve definitely made boneheaded concessions because I wanted something so bad. Then there’s the flip side. There’s something that you don’t want all that much, but are kind of interested in, so you make a super low, almost ludicrously low (but still somewhat reasonable) offer and when they push back you just walk away.

Then, as you’re walking away, they say either they’ll take your price or counter-back at what is still a screaming deal… for something that you could have lived without in the first place. So you got a great deal!

The point isn’t to offer on things you don’t want, but to go ahead and make the low ball offer on something that you only want at really low price even if you don’t think they’ll take it.

So, to apply this to something that you do want, you just have to convince yourself that you can do without it. That will give you leverage at the negotiating table.

“Don’t count on motivation; count on discipline.” – Jocko Willink

I was listening to the Tim Ferris podcast while hanging blinds in one of the rentals and the guest was a ex-Navy Seal Jocko Willink (who is a super-human, FYI). One of the people who wrote into the show with questions asked how he stays “motivated.” To which he responded:

“Don’t count of motivation, count on discipline.”

And this totally rocked my world because we always see things about getting motivated and staying motivated, but “not being motivated” is just an excuse to be lazy or put off something hard or that you don’t want to do, but need to. It needs to get done, so you need discipline to hunker down and do it.

 

 

How to Survive and Thrive at a Business Networking Event (A Guide for Awkward People)

Photo credit: FollowUpSuccess.com

Photo credit: FollowUpSuccess.com

Networking is very important for success. This is pretty common knowledge. It’s not what you know as much as it is who you know. LinkedIn and other social networks are good up to a point, but nothing can replace planting your mug in front of folks.

Up until about 6 or so months ago I hated going to “networking” meetings. I was MORTIFIED at the thought of
  • Awkwardly making small talk with complete strangers
  • Ending up in awkward conversational pauses
  • Getting caught in conversations with people who aren’t that interesting
  • Not knowing what to talk about
  • Not knowing anybody
  • Possibly being the guy standing alone in the corner looking at and swirling their drink

It’s an entirely nerve wracking experience.

Through a lot of research and sucking it up and attending some of these things, I have learned a thing or two. I am now perfectly comfortable in these types of environments.

So, in an effort to reach out to those who need to do this in-person networking type stuff, but have all of the same fears that I did, I am making this guide to assuage those anxieties and give you some tools to function well at these type of things.

I am by no means a master networker/connector/anything like that, but I have been in the shoes of people who are terrified by the prospect of having to attend something like this and want to help.

I will put forth that I am working from a base line of general extroversion and thriving pretty well in small groups, even if it is strangers (events with 7 or more people still intimidated me to the point of not attending). I get that I was a little higher up on a comfort scale than many who will have to attend these things, but we all start from somewhere right?

1. Many of the people at these events feel the exact same way

Yes.

The number one thing that I learned from looking up the abundance of articles on how to cope with these anxieties was that I’m obviously not the only one who has them. Most of the people at the event that you are attending aren’t social butterflies who can shake hands, slap backs, and work a room like a politician during election season.  A lot of them have the same anxieties about working a room full of strangers that you do.

Take solace in that. You are not alone.

2. Consistency in attendance. Don’t try to meet everyone in one night.

A popular misconception about these events is that you have to “make the sale” right then and there. You have to go there, pitch your product/service, and hand out business cards to everybody in that room before the nights done.

It’s not a one and done prospect.

Your best bet is to choose 1 or 2 groups/organizations, show up to all of the events, talk to a few people at each event until either the event is over or the conversation dies (more on striking up conversation later), leave.

If you hit it off, or have something further to talk about with those folks, then follow up after the meeting and set something up (more on that later). If you don’t have any interest in a relationship with them, then don’t follow up. Say hi to them at the next event. You should try to remember people’s names (I am not known for being good at this), but if you don’t, it’s fine. They probably didn’t remember your either. And if they do, it means you were memorable and interesting.

Hopefully the event has name tags that you can try to subtly check out.

At the next event, do the same exact thing. Have good conversations with a few people. Follow up or don’t.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Over time you’ll have met several people at these events and a lot of people will know you.

The important thing is to not spread yourself too thin over several random groups. I already sort of have issues with this because I have real estate investor groups as well as history-based groups that I try to balance, but they can be somewhat related since I work for a General Contractor.

 

 

3. How the f*** do I get into a group of people to talk with them?

This is always one that made me feel the most awkward. A couple of people or a group of people is standing around having a conversation and you don’t want to just stand there and be weird.
Here’s a simple guideline

1) If the group is a closed circle or two people are facing each other square, then they’re really deep into a conversation, do not go in.

2) If there is an open space in a group, or two people are standing and talking in sort of like a V with their bodies angled out into the space in an open sort of posture, then they are INVITING somebody else to join.

Just stand in that spot and start listening. It’s not awkward, that’s just how you insert yourself into these conversations. Eventually somebody will introduce themselves to you which is your invitation to meet the group, shake hands, exchange names, and make with the chit-chat (more on what to chit-chat about later). If no one introduces themselves to you (odds are slim that they won’t) wait until a conversational lull, throw out a hand and make an introduction.

It definitely feels weird at first, but when you try it once and see that it works you’ll be like “Oh…. that was easy.”

You just have to get over yourself.

Personally, I prefer groups of 3 or more. The conversation is less likely to die down when there are more people.

One thing that I always try to do as a former Networking-ophobic is to always make space for someone who even kind of looks like they are alone and trying to join the conversation circle. Even going so far as to invite them in.

It’s actually a really interesting dynamic. The group will expand into a circle, and as it reaches critical mass to where there’s like 8 people in a giant circle, side conversations begin and the circles divide like a single celled organism splitting itself.

If you see a person standing by themselves they are fair game. Go and strike up a conversation about whatever. If anything, they may be that awkward person who isn’t sure how to approach people and you have made the event much better for them. And they might have a lot to offer and be an interesting person.

4. What do I talk about? NOT yourself.

What am I suppose to talk about with these people? Well, you aren’t suppose to talk. People don’t really care about what you have to say, but they LOVE talking about themselves. Just ask them questions about them. Always ask open-ended questions

Here’s some questions:

  • What brings you here today/tonight? This is pretty obvious. The one thing that you and this other person have in common is that you are both there for some reason. This can lead to all sorts of off-shoots of topics.
  • What do you do? : Basic questions. It’s a baseline. Sometimes they can give you enough with this where you can riff of of with questions for a while. For example “I’m an architect” can be followed up by “What sort of buildings to you design?” “What got you into that?” “Where did you study” and you can just go on asking questions.
  • Where are you from?: You could share something you know about it and ask them about that, talk about a place that’s somewhat close and ask if they’ve been, you can ask why they left, where they went to college, etc.

The important thing to remember is to have a genuine interest in the person’s story. Personally, I love knowing people’s stories and all about them. You can ask a ton of questions and go pretty deep without touching on sensitive subject matter. If they mention that their parents passed away, I wouldn’t ask “how?” Or something along those lines.

This is a basic tenet of the seminal self-help book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It’s a classic and everybody should have read this at least once.

Also, if the person really has nothing interesting you can probe about… see the section on ending conversations.

Of note, unless it’s a political event, or a religious event, don’t talk politics, religion, or anything that could possibly put you at odds with someone there on a personal level.

5. Conversation Enders

A lot of time you get caught up in a situation where you guys have nothing left to talk about. You can both tell that the conversation is ending, but not quite sure how to separate.

You look around to try to bring somebody else in to freshen up the conversation…nobody.

This simple phrase works wonders:

“Well, it was great talking to you!” And move on.

Yes, it’s that simple. You are both looking for a way to end the conversation and move on to something else, it just takes someone with the balls to acknowledge that the conversation is dead and rip the band-aid off.

You will be relieved, they will be relieved.

If you want to be non-confrontational about it, or this seems too sudden then the following solutions are available to you. (These also work if it’s someone who is just yammering about bullsh*** or is uninteresting).

1) “It was nice talking, I have to get with so-and-so to follow up about (X)” And go join another group or person. Even if you don’t know them or have anything to talk about, just start a new conversation. It’s much better if it’s somebody you’ve met before though, so you can catch up.

2) “I have to run to the restroom.” Go to the restroom. If you don’t have to go, just look in the mirror and make sure your tie’s straight. Also, maybe wash your hands since you’ve probably just shaken a bunch of hands.

You can only go to the well with this one so many times before people have seen you run to the bathroom 4 times in an hour.

3) “I’m out, I need to go grab a drink” Keep a small amount of drink in your glass, finish it, and use the old bar excuse. Get caught up in a conversation with someone else at the bar.

Once again, I emphasize, everybody is at these things to network, so most people will be on the same page with you of trying to talk to more than one person, or ending a conversation that’s going nowhere.

6. How to Follow Up 

Okay, so you’ve made a connection.You and the other person either get along great, or can potentially do business.

This is probably the most important part.

Admittedly, since I’m new to the whole networking event thing, I have substantially less experience with follow up. This is also an area that I need to work on getting better at. Thus, I present to you this Forbes article that I have found to be accurate based on experience and podcasts such as the Art of Charm that I have listened to.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/yec/2014/09/23/how-to-master-the-art-of-networking-follow-up/#1d206c60602c

7. Be a Connector

If you have met someone earlier in the event, or during a different event for the group and meet someone who they might have a common interest with, introduce them! Even if you don’t connect with these folks automatically, they will remember that you are the one who introduced them. Even if they don’t associate their acquaintance with you, you have helped some people out and have built up some good karma.

8. Don’t Drink Too Much

Enjoying a cocktail or two is fine, but don’t be that guy/girl who gets drunk to deal with the fact that they can’t handle social situations. It’s a social lubricant up to a point…. break up your drinks with water to hydrate.

That’s about the gist of it. The most important thing to remember is that anything that you’re feeling as far as anxiety, awkwardness, whatever.. you’re not the only one.

And once you are comfortable moving about a room at a networking event, be sure to make room for or talk to the person standing by themselves awkwardly staring down at their drink and introduce them to some other folks.

Real Estate Resources/Tools I Use

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Most people who know me know that I am into real estate. I’m very much a novice, but I see a lot of people wanting to get into it. Some have even asked me about it, or where to start. I have done a lot of research. I listen to a lot of podcasts, read a few books, and read websites. To that end, I thought I would share what I have learned and throw some resources out there that I use and have used for other people to use.

What I have learned so far through my small amount of experience and advice that has helped me:

1) First step is to figure out your goals.

Do you want to flip houses? Do you want to Buy and Hold? Do you want to develop and sell? Do you want to build on vacant lots and rent them out? What’s your income goal? Do you want to replace your income and stop there?

The steps to do this are listen to the podcasts that I recommend later in this article. The recent Bigger Pockets one about the “freedom number” was good for me. It will help you figure out your goal.

For example,you might have a goal of 2 properties per year cash flowing $200/month or something like that.

2) At the same time learn all you can about your market. If you’re willing to travel, what about other markets around you? I am in Richmond, and know nothing about, say, the tidewater region, but your local REIA groups or other meetups should help you there. Talk to people (in person, you can only do so much on-line).

3) Talk to a lending professional. Figure out if you can get financed and for how much. Knowing your own ability to get financed can tell you where to start.

4) Easiest (but not easy) way to get started is to use an FHA 3.5% money down loan to buy a duplex/triplex/4plex and get tenants to pay your PITI (Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance). Once again, I don’t know what market you’re in and if that’s feasible. Use some sort of Calculator for real estate investing (such as Bigger Pockets calculators, for paid subscribers only) to figure out if the numbers work.

The things to account for in a Buy and Hold property are Principle, Interest, Taxes, Insurance, Vacancy rate, a percentage for repairs, possible HOA dues, etc.. The books I recommend later in the article will define all that for you.

5) Other successful investors, especially the ones younger than you and your same age, can be intimidating to someone who is working full time, making family time, and trying to make Real Estate work. A lot of these people who are constantly flipping and making deals happen are light years ahead of you in their real estate portfolio.

Don’t compare yourself to other people. Know what your personal goals are and reserve engineer them to lay out a rough outline (that will inevitably change over time).

6) Get started. NOW. There will never be a perfect time or the perfect property. The best way to learn is by doing imperfectly and learning.

Resources:

Number 1: Bigger Pockets (www.biggerpockets.com)

Bigger Pockets (BP) is basically a social network for real estate investors and the best starting spot. They have a free course called The Beginners Guide to Real Estate Investing. They have a weekly Podcast where they interview successful members of the website. Both of these are awesome ways to get educated. They have a blog where members write posts. They have calculators for rentals, flips, etc. to analyze deals (real estate transactions are referred to as “deals” by everybody for some reason). These are mega important for due diligence prior to investing.

The most important resource BP has is the BP Community. There are forums, ways to connect, etc. and it basically is a place for you to go give and get advice; share stories and information; and read through to learn. You can post your deal on the forums and ask people to analyze it, and they will usually look at your analyses and help you figure out whether it’s a good deal or not simply because they enjoy real estate. I have asked questions down to something about mudding drywall for my water heater closet.

Everyone wants to help other investors because real estate is not a zero-sum game and when you put good things out in the universe it pays you back with interest.

Also, totally worth it to pay for Plus, if not Pro membership if you are at all serious about real estate investing.

Podcasts

Aside from Bigger Pockets podcast, the number one tool that I use for Real Estate (RE) education are podcasts. I have 3 real estate related podcasts that I listen to religiously every week:

Bigger Pockets Podcast

I mentioned this one earlier. This is not the best quality podcast, but it is probably the most informative for just real estate. It is good for all levels of investors and covers a wide range of topics. One of the hosts Brandon, while very knowledgeable and nice, is very annoying to me (I think it’s his voice), but not so much that I won’t listen to this podcast. They interview Bigger Pockets members of varying levels of success and by listening to this you can learn strategies, see how other people off their investments, as well as be inspired.

The Real Estate Guys Podcast

Easily the most well-rounded, professional podcast out there. Robert Elms has been hosting a radio show for something like 25 years and has an enormous well of knowledge and contacts that he leverages to help investors, from buy and hold to flippers; and from novices to experts.

They cover all topics real estate related. They will also sometimes interview people about the Federal Reserve or other markets, just to give perspective to how economic news will affect real estate.

GRE-logo

Get Rich Education w/ Kieth Weinhold

This is the podcast that reminded me about wanting to invest in real estate. I heard him interviewed on Entrepreneur on Fire with JD and started listening to his podcast. That is what prompted me to FHA loan and house hack (a fancy term for living in one unit and renting out the other) a duplex. A lot of his episodes are just him telling you about a specific strategy, or part of a strategy. He outlines how to do the FHA loan on a multi-unit property. He takes concepts such as total return on Real Estate and breaks it down over an hour episode. He also does some inspirational episodes and interviews with people. All of his interviews are strategic and cover specific topics.

He’s big on using turnkey investment providers who buy, rehab, rent out, and some even manage a property for you out of your home market. I understand why he recommends certain ones on his podcasts, but sometimes it seems like his podcasts are a sales pitch for some of these companies. In my research though, I have found that most people have been happy with his turnkey providers, so maybe Keith is genuinely trying to refer people to good companies.

Books

I have to be honest in saying that I haven’t read a ton of books on Real Estate Investing, but these are ones I’ve read that were widely recommended.

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiosaki

Of course there is the seminal Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiosaki, which I mentioned a few months ago that I listened to on Audiobook. It’s basically the catalyst for you. It will shift your mind and the way that you think about money. It will shake you out of the mindset that you work, save up a bunch of money, and live off of that fixed amount of money through retirement. Lessons such as “work to learn, don’t work to earn” and buying assets with the money you earn instead of consumer stuff.

Most real estate investors will tell you they have read this book ,and many will tell you this was THE book that changed their lives forever.

Land Lording on Autopilot by Mike Butler

Okay, so you’ve purchased your investment property… now what? This book is highly recommended by several folks. If you’re not going to pay a property manager, then this is the book you need. Mike Butler has developed systems to manage his some-80 rental properties. He gives systems on tenant screening, managing those tenants, managing the property, writing leases, etc. This helped me wade through a lot of BS when finding a tenant for the duplex. Also ,when you buy the book, he gives you all the templates you could ever need for managing your properties.

Book On Real Estate Investing With Low and No Money Down by Brandon Turner

Another Bigger Pockets related recommendation (sensing a pattern here?). Brandon Turner wrote this book on how to use almost no money to get started in real estate. Strategies such as syndication, leveraging portfolio loans from local banks, using private/hard money, etc. He also talks about the FHA multi-unit strategy for first timers. It’s a great read and luckily Brandon isn’t the one who does the audio book version.

Full disclosure: I mostly listen to Audiobooks.

Real Estate Investment Groups

For education as well as finding deals, these local real estate investment groups are the way to go. It is full of experienced investors, hard-money lenders, potential business partners, and newbies who you can learn from, make deals with, or even teach a thing or two. I found two local ones in Richmond (Virginia) that I attend on Meetup.com.

Mentors

The best thing you can do is to find a mentor. I have a great mentor who I met through my Masonic Lodge in Reno (who is also my realtor) who is happy to give advice. I can never really let him know how appreciative I am of him, but he has no idea how much I value him being there for me when I have questions.

If you can find a mentor (probably your best chance is working for someone for free) it’s the best way to go. It could be someone you meet at an REIA group, on the street, a friend, or family member. They don’t always have to be older either.

If you want to get into real estate, I’d love to talk to you about it as a starting point, so feel free to hit me up!

The Ups and Downs of Business and the Path to Success

One moment your on top of the world and then the next, life hands you a heaping helping of humble pie.

What Success Really Looks Like

What Success Really Looks Like

Maybe it’s just me and I’m inclined to have big emotional upswings and downswings, but life is a just a crazy roller coaster. Success is less like climbing a mountain and is more like climbing a series of hills that turn into a mountain range, with more hills in-between. Some of these hills and mountains will then have groups of trolls at the top trying to throw you back down the other side and make you start from the beginning, or to the bottom of a mountain that you’ve already climbed.

I will give you an example of this based on events happening solely this past week:

That trolley tour that I was suppose to guide got cancelled. I was very disappointed. The disappointment didn’t stem so much from not getting paid for it (although I’d be lying if I said that didn’t play a part), but stemmed more from the work that I put into mapping that tour route, memorizing the script, and practicing it once per day for 2 weeks all being for naught. True, it helped me write my Church Hill Tour script, and gave me something that I might be able to use if we do this sort of thing down the road; but that’s a tiny consolation.

I found out about this on Monday. On Tuesday, I get a call to give a private tour (which pays pretty well) that evening and execute it almost perfectly.

Success! Up the mountain.

Saturday comes and it’s time for the morning tour and I get one guy who doesn’t tip me anything for the awesome 2.5 hour tour I just gave him.

Well that’s a kick in the pants down the hill.

Granted, I didn’t expect a big turn out because of all of the cool stuff going on for the 150th anniversary of the fall of Richmond at the end of the American Civil War; but seriously; one guy?

Down we go.

So, the inaugural Church Hill tour was that evening as given by one of my new guides, JJ. I didn’t hold high hopes for turn out because of all of the Civil War living history and reenactment stuff going on at the State Capitol. It’s a tough competition, but Lo and behold…..

Inaugural Church Hill Tour

Inaugural Church Hill Tour

19 people show up for the tour!

Back up the mountain.

It’s not easy, but it sure is an exhilarating climb.

Sayings That Guide My Life

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was writing in my journal today and noticed at the front where I write some timely quotes that apply to my current situation. I decided just to post them up. I have most of these quotes memorized because I’ve heard Leonard Nimoy say them a million times playing Civilization IV (and have been since 2005).

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

My Junior Year English teacher, Mr. Harris, hammered this quote into our heads. He made us write it verbatim in order to pass a test. And you know what? I’m glad he did. You shouldn’t do the same things over and over again simply because you always have, if you have forgotten the reason. It’s sheer madness! You can take two directions with this: either rediscover why you did it in the first place so that it has meaning again, or simply stop doing it.

This Emerson quote is one of my two life mottoes. It inspired me to travel around the world. It roused me to get out of the consumer sales profession which I hated. It made me realize that graduate school was not the way to go in life. In fact, it was even my quote at the bottom of my email for a long time! Until it was replaced by:

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” – Confucius

Confucious

Confucious

This is a Civilization IV quote. I always said this, but never really adopted it as a mantra until I got back from traveling. Whether it’s weight loss, muscle gain, a career, notoriety, or politics; you have to be patient. This doesn’t mean simply waiting for it to happen. This means that once you know what you want, you have to move. Don’t be discouraged because you have not achieved the goal. Keep plugging away with a few steps toward the goal every day. Take some time to celebrate what you accomplish along the way, then keep making steps.

While the first listed quote guided my life for a long time, this Confucius quote has taken it’s place. I was very impatient with myself for a long time. I felt that I had accomplished nothing. It also didn’t help that I didn’t know what I wanted or what my passion was. I was impatient with myself, which led to frustration, which led to me simply standing still.

While traveling, I found my real passion: history. More specifically, sharing history with people via guided tours. I decided I wanted to do that, so I started The Richmond Tour Guys in March. First, I bought several books and mapped a route. I filed for an LLC, bought a web domain and name, got a logo, and started the blog. The process took 2.5 months. Each day, I did something to move me toward the goal of starting this tour. Finally, on May 31st, I ran my first tour with 5 people, including my girlfriend. The next Sunday I had no people. I kept showing up, giving tours, and building a reputation (check out Trip Advisor!) until one weekend in July, I had a group of 25 people on my tour. My original goal was 20.

I didn’t fret or whine when I had nobody show up for that second week. I didn’t get frustrated and stand still. I just kept moving those small stones and reached my goal. (Where to go after that is the real question!)

“Give a man fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” – Japanese Proverb

This is a Civ truism. I use this one all the time. Basically, I’d rather somebody show me how to do something rather than do it for me, so I can then do it for myself. I also would rather teach somebody how to do something, so I don’t keep having to do it for them!

Anybody who has an older relative with a computer knows what I’m talking about.

“There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance.”- Ali ibn Abi-Talib

Ben Franklin had a similar saying “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Knowledge is something that you can always take with you. It is also important to realize that today we have a problem of too much information and too little knowledge. Don’t get ’em confused.

“The frog in the well knows not the ocean.” – Japanese proverb

I got this from my favorite Economics professor in college, Prof. Syler. This is the quote that inspired me to travel. It inspired me to get out of my comfort zone living in Reno and move to random town in rural Virginia with a population of 12,000 people. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Reno, but it’s very confining. If you are confined in the same box all of the time, your mind can never expand beyond that box.

“You cannot change the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” – Ancient Japanese Proverb

There seems to be a lot of Japanese proverbs here, but I guess they had some pretty smart dudes back in the day! This basically just means that you can’t change what you can’t change; you just have to adapt. The biggest example of this in my life is when my mother and then 3 months later my father passed away. It was very unexpected. I was caught off-guard and my world was rocked. But what could I do? I just had to suck it up deal with my new circumstances. It’s pretty similar to my post on Kurtis Blow’s immortal perspective on life.

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” – Sun-Tzu

This is a saying that I need to meditate on a bit. It’s similar to my high school football coach’s oft-repeated piece of advice that “Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.” You got to have a plan to be successful, but don’t fall victim to….

“Paralyses by analyses”

A recent addition to my quote lexicon. The best laid plans go to waste. So just do your homework, have a rough outline, and fill in the rest as you go.

“The wisest men follow their own direction.” – Euripides

Another Civ quote. This basically says that you gotta be true to yourself and follow your gut; no matter what people are telling you. You should definitely seek advice and take it into consideration, but if your third mind tells you to go for it, do it. All you can do is make the best decision you can with the information that you have. Deal with the consequences later.

“If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both.” – Native American saying

If you are chasing two things, then you never truly have your full focus on any one thing. In this case, rabbits. Ancient Native Americans didn’t need scientific studies to tell them that multitasking is not very efficient and sometimes you just have to prioritize.

“One doesn’t discover new lands without losing sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide

Another Civ 4 adage that applies to me wanting to travel. Similar to the frog in the well mentioned above. I think it applies not just to travel though. It applies to expanding your mind in all sort of ways. For example, it would have been easy for me stick with sales. I was good at it and the money was good. It was also my first career and I had no basis for comparison. So how did I know that was what I should do with my life? It was scary moving away from what was comfortable, but I did, and am much happier for it.

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” – Benjamin Franklin

It’s a timely platitude, but I don’t get into politics on this blog.

I have some more that I use quite often. Many of them have similar meanings, but these are my most oft-used axioms.

The Breaks: Life Lessons from Kurtis Blow

There is a lesson to be learned in these lyrics from the 1980s break dancing hit “The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow.

The man himself… Mr. Kurtis Blow

“If your woman steps out with another man
(That’s the breaks that’s the breaks)
And she runs off with him to Japan
And the IRS says they want to chat
And you can’t explain why you claimed your cat
And Ma Bell sends you a whopping bill
With eighteen phone calls to Brazil

And you borrowed money from the mob
And yesterday you lost your job
Well, these are the breaks
Break it up, break it up, break it up”

I was watching a break dance video that popped into my news feed on Facebook and the back beat to the song was the “The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow.  This song was HUGE in the 1980s and, to this day, is used in some form or another at every Break Dancing Competition that is held. It has stood the test of time.

Anyway, after being reminded of this pioneer’s song, I looked up the video on Youtube to jam to it for a while this morning and while listening to the lyrics I had an epiphany.

Kurtis Blow is sending us all a message about putting life into perspective:

Some times in life… bad things happen, but those are the breaks.

Deal with it.

Simple, straight forward, and seemingly easy to simply gloss over, but by accepting what has happened and not dwelling on the past, you can do what you need to do now to make it better.

When I was in Cambodia, my debit card got stolen. I was in Sihanoukville, a random beach town hundreds of miles from any main city. I was stranded with no money, no access to cash, and an infection in my leg. Yes, I panicked at first, but then I realized: those are the breaks. Through a loan from the owners of the hostel that I worked at and a wire from my sister, I survived until my debit card reached Sihanoukville only 2 weeks later.

My parents passed away when I was 21. It was terrible. It shattered my world and completely changed the course that my life was going in. Nobody should have to go through that, but that’s life. And as such: that’s the breaks, that’s the breaks. I couldn’t dwell on it. I just had to live my life.

So, when life knocks your ice cream cone into the dirt, remember what the immortal Kurtis Blow wants you to know:

These are the breaks.