Real Estate, WWE, the Tour Business, and recent podcast listens

I feel like writing a blog post, so this is just going to be random stuff about what’s up with my life right now.

FYI: Married life is awesome.

Real Estate

First off, for our next rental property purchases we chose the “hard” difficulty level. We have purchased two single-family homes (one partially with proceeds from a 1031 Exchange sale of the condo in Reno). So for property number 1, aside from carpet paint, and various other minor repairs (replacing treads and risers on front steps), putting in appliances, and vinyl floor we have encountered these difficulties:

Rotted back door, frame, and part of the sub-floor and joists (Taken care of for a very reasonable price by BWB Construction)

Appliances in place, paint, carpet, etc. complete I then spent a week showing the house every evening to roughly 16 people (well, 16 appointments, half no showed).

Finally we get a renter and I show up Sunday evening to do some last little repairs and…..img_20161009_143225 img_20161010_173403 img_20161010_173424 img_20161010_175834and a tree fell. Luckily it just did some minor damage to the back deck guard rail.

But man!

And the Housing Authority is suppose to come and inspect maybe as early as this week.

So I got to do my best lumberjack impression and cut of the three with a much too small chainsaw borrowed from a fellow Mason.

Looks like I’m spending part of my Saturday repairing the guardrail.

Our other property is in the middle of a renovation loan (also with BWB Construction doing the work) and all was going okay until we needed to drop the power line to complete the fascia repairs and Dominion (the power company who also happens to own every government official in Virginia) says they can’t come out until October 24th… when our rate lock on the loan expires.

Sigh.

Luckily BWB got on the phone with them to come out earlier (although they were suppose to come out 2 days ago, but still haven’t).

Otherwise, things are going well there.

Wrestling

One of the best things about living in Richmond, VA is that the WWE comes through here 3 or 4 times per year for live events, TV shows, and sometimes PPVs.

Last Friday, Melanie and I went to NXT at the Altria Theater. This was the set up for those who are curious:

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The event was fun. We went to the PPV “Backlash” in September, but that’s a lot more casual fans and less hardcore “smarks” (referenced in a previous article).

Best match of the night was Austin Aries vs. Cedrick Alexander from a wrestling match perspective.

The most entertaining matches were Samoa Joe/Bobby Roode vs. Shinsuke Nakamura/No Way Jose and Asuka vs. Aaliyah because of the personalities of who were involved.

The Smarkiness of the event led to much more fun crowd and lots of chants, singing along, and all the things that us rasslin’ fans like to do.

Backlash, the WWE PPV, had two really awesome matches in Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz for the Intercontinental Title and AJ Styles winning the WWE title from Dean Ambrose.

For any long time wrestling fan, AJ Styles holding the WWE title seems like some fantasy land as of 5 years ago.

By the way, we sprung for the nicer seats for the PPV…

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49ers

How about them 49ers? Man, we are terrible. Chip Kelly, Blaine Gabbert… our team is like the frickin’ Island of Misfit Toys.

Richmond Tour Guys

The tour business is a little on auto-pilot as I have turned my attention to getting these two rental properties together. Luckily I have an incredible guide in Michael Thomas who has been massively taking up the slack. It’s impossible to convey to him how much easier he has made my time management.

So far this year, we have given tours to over 825 people between regular walking tours, private tours, and custom tour packages. I swell with pride knowing that something that I started has been apart of 825 people’s vacations. They could spend their visit to Richmond doing anything… and they chose the Richmond Tour Guys.

We are Number 3 on Trip Advisor for “Tours in Richmond” behind only a bike tour and food tour.

Also, we brought on a new guide, Ray. He will start doing tours on weekdays, which is an area that I’ve longed to explore since the Tour Guys’ inception in 2014. Unfortunately it’s starting in October and November, which are traditionally less well attended.

As for the bad:

I had a couple of good private tours lined up including an Executive tour complete with an Executive Coach that cancelled; and a tour for a retirement home that I spent 10.5 hours routing, writing a script for, and practicing for them to cancel and thus, the Richmond tour guys has a new policy:

20% or $50 deposit for all specialized private tours!

New Phone: Blue Life One X2

I just got a new phone since the screen on my old phone (Huawei P8 Light) got shattered by an errant phone drop.

I don’t sign contracts for cel phones after I signed a 2 year contract with AT&T and submerged the phone I got from it in the river. So now I just buy unlocked smart phones by lesser known companies and I have not had a bad experience yet.

After cruising cNet, I ended up getting the Blue Life One X2 Android phone which has an octacore 1.4ghx processor, 4gb of memory, 64gb storage, 16 mp back, and 8mp front camera.

All of which the internet tells me is good.

I bought this one for $180 (normally $200, $180 special pre-sale price).

So far the phone is great. It’s way faster than the old one, I don’t have to worry about running out of space for podcasts, and the screen is bigger. The camera is also twice as good (literally, the old phone was 8mp). CNET rated it the best smart phone under $250 and honestly, since I’m not gaming or doing anything intense with my phone, I don’t really need the Samsung Awesome.

Freemasonry

In August I was all about working on Historic Mason’s Hall, the 1785 building in Shockoe Bottom that is the oldest lodge in the US continuously used for Masonic purposes. Then everything else took a back seat to real estate for the last month or so and probably will for 2 or 3 more weeks.

Efforts for the lodge are going strong.. slow and steady, but strong. We recently got a donation from the Sons of the Revolution and have embarked on a Facebook Ads fundraising campaign that has had some success. We have a great core group of guys who care about the building and are willing to put in the time to make saving it happen.

One of the things that we’re finding is how a little cleaning can go a long way:

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I also recently discovered podcasts about Freemasonry. The one I’ve been listening to most is Masonic Roundtable. It features two Virginia Masons, so it’s got a lot of relevance to me.

I especially like the historical episodes such as on the Morgan Affair, the Baltimore Convention of 1843, and the episode on Prince Hall Freemasonry which is the traditionally African American branch of Freemasonry (we are working on bringing things together).

It also covers some more esoteric topics such as “memento mori,” or reflecting upon death and how we should make the most of the time we have on this plane of existence.

I reiterate as I did in my post about Freemasonry that Freemasonry is not a religion or cult, and it is non-denominational.

 

2016 Richmond Jewish Food Festival

(Original Posted on the Richmond Tour Guys blog)

It is the 7th year for the Richmond Jewish Food Festival… and it gets better every year.

The festival had it’s beginnings in the Kiniseth Beth Israel Temple… after 5 years, it got crowded and moved to The Weinstein Jewish Community Center. I had never been to this festival before and was expecting long lines to get the food. The line was long, but it went by swiftly.

As for food, they of course served traditional Jewish food of Eastern European origin, but also offered some Israeli food, which is more Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern in flavor. I opted for the traditional food: Brisket Dinner which was Brisket and 2 sides (a steal at $15!):

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Cholent, Knish, Brisket, cabbage rolls

My plate: Cholent, Knish, Brisket, cabbage rolls

On the left is Cholent, which is a traditional Jewish stew made as an end-around of not being able to cook on the Sabbath since this stew could feed everyone for the whole day. It’s ingredients are as varied as the people who make it and can include, lentils, beans, rice, various meats (not pork, of course), rice, barley, oats, etc.

On the right is a Knish which is a filling inside of some dough that is either baked or fried. Mine was filled with what looked like Potato, but I guess it can contain everything from rice, to meat, to veggies.

There is of course the brisket, which is smoked beef.

The other sides that I got were the Cabbage Roll…. a ground beef, tomato, rice mixtures stuffed inside of cabbage which has become to underdog hit of the Jewish Food Festival over the years.

Also, no Jewish food festival is complete without Latke’s, the famous and delicious potato pancake.

Latkes and Israeli Sampler

Latkes and Israeli Sampler

We also got the Israeli sampler which was Shwarma (meat grilled on a rotating stick and shaved off and stuffed into a tortilla type thing) and Falafel (Mashed, fried Chickpeas). All with a bit of Hummus.

Entry to the event is free and the total for all of this food (and it was A LOT of food) plus two beers was $47. The Brisket Plate with 2 sides is only $13. A steal.

Bubbie’s Bakery  provided lots of sweets and treats. Personally, I can’t go without some Baklava and a couple Macaroons.

What really struck me was how organized the whole thing was. There was a really long line that moved very fast. Once you got to the front, you were sent to a certain numbered booth (all of the booths sold the same thing) with your group to get your food, then there were 6 or 7 registers set up to take payments. It was all very streamlined which I’m sure was developed over several years of trial and error.

There was also several vendors selling various items, Jewish music, and some information on the Jewish culture.

Richmond actually has a long history of a Jewish population, but that’s another story for another post….

If you’re a local, or you are visiting Richmond, it’s definitely worth checking this delicious food festival out. You will not find good, homemade Jewish food like this anywhere else in Richmond.

And if you do… tell me where! at Matthew@richmondtourguys.com

Podcast/Book Recommendations: Overcoming Being Overwhelmed and Over Worked.

Feeling Overwhelmed: “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (And It’s All Small Stuff)” by Richard Carlson

Right now is a big time of transition for my girlfriend and I. We are about to close on our first Duplex (we are so super stoked); The Richmond Tour Guys is experimenting with charging for tours (this coming weekend is the first of that); and my girlfriend started a new job this week. Between all of this, making time for each other, and my full time gig; it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

For a week or so after we got back from our trip to the West Coast trip, I started really stressing and panicking. There was so much to do. Will paid tours be successful? What if I fail? What if I don’t make the flyers in time? What if I don’t have the tour script memorized? What if the Duplex which seems like an awesome deal from my due diligence, turns out not to be? What if I am not a good landlord? What if I’m neglecting my girlfriend? What if I’m losing connection with my friends and family? What if, what if, what if!?!

Well, I decided after suffering these pangs of anxiety that I needed to stop worrying so much; but needed some tips on how to do (other than Buzzfeed posts). I was listening to an episode of Entrepreneur on Fire (Sorry JLD, I can’t remember which one) and one of the guests recommended “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (and it’s all small stuff)” by Richard Carlson. I bought the AudioBook and listened to it for the next few days repeating certain chapters that resonated with me. The book helped me put all this anxiety into perspective. I mean, I was overwhelming myself so much about what wasn’t getting done, that I paralyzed myself into inaction which created tons of inertia.

The book said a some stuff that I already knew (being present, realizing that things aren’t that big of a deal, etc.), but it’s sometimes necessary to have it hammered in again. Repetition is invaluable.

I suppose the point of this is if you feel constantly overwhelmed, anxious, angry, etc: “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” is a must-read. It’s a good healthy dose of perspective.

Overworked “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiosaki

I finally read (well, listened to) Rich Dad, Poor Dad. I totally see why so many people refer this book. It is really mind blowing. As someone who’d always looked with interest upon getting passive income, this book greatly helps expand as to how to make that possible and reminds me of why I want to produce enough passive income to where dictate my lifestyle rather than trading my time for dollars.

The biggest take away for me was to constantly be learning. I already do that, but the book made me realize that almost everything even if it’s not obviously an educational experience, is an opportunity to learn something; be it my day job, giving tours, or writing a blog post.

After having my girlfriend listen, we decided to take our futures into our own hands and we are purchasing our first duplex.

This book has changed the lives of a lot of people and it’s easy to see why.

New Podcast Recommendation: Get Rich Education with Kieth Weinhold

In continually learning; Podcasts help me a lot with this. Via Entrepreneur on fire, which I recommended a couple of months ago, I found a new Podcast that has shot to the top of my list of Podcasts that I regularly listen to:

Get Rich Education With Kieth Weinhold: He is a successful real estate investor who pretty much gives away incredible information for free every week on his Podcast. Listening to it from the beginning is almost like an education series in that he builds off of earlier topics. He starts general with mindset and principles of ways to think about things, then gets into very specific details about tools and strategies. My mind has been expanded a lot since listening to his Podcast. As someone with a fledgling real estate portfolio, having someone give me this information weekly in digestible form is priceless.

I’m still kind of waiting to see what the catch is. One thing is that he invests in Turn-Key real estate in Memphis, and gets $1,000 referral reward if people he refer use their services. Although, the company gives anybody who refers someone $1,000 so it’s not like they are a sponsor of the Podcast (that I know of).

I am currently doing my own due diligence on this Turnkey Real Estate service.

Website/Podcast Recommendation: Bigger Pockets

The other things I’ve discovered since my last post is a social network for real estate investors called Bigger Pockets. It’s completely free (although some extra features require membership; but it’s reasonably priced and totally worth it). It’s a way to connect with other real estate investors, both local and nationally. It also has a blog, a podcast, forums, calculators for flips and buy and holds, and a lot more.

For the last month, my girlfriend and I have been in contract for a duplex and I posted questions on this forum and got answers. There is no way I’d be able to get these answers otherwise. People help you analyze deals, tell you about the market, help with land lording strategies, tax strategies, asset protection and even give advice on specific situations.You can also search the forum and the blogs and find a lot of your answers.

The Buy and Hold calculator alone was worth paying for the Plus membership. I highly encourage anyone even remotely invested in real estate to sign up and get involved in this website; listening to the podcasts; and reading the blogs. I can’t stress how invaluable this resource has been for me over the past 2 months.

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.