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?”


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.



Random Observations, Quotes, Witticisms

Every-so-often I will probably post one-line thoughts, jokes, or quotes that I heard, wrote down, or posted on Facebook so here we go:

  • I’ve been reading a bit of Thought Catalog and have arrived at the conclusion that the Millennial Generation (of which I am a part) have surpassed all other generations…. in whinyness.
  • From my girlfriend, Melanie:
    • Q:What part of the world do bad jokes come from?
    • A: The Yuckatan Penninsula.
  • “History is the autobiography of a madman.” -Alexander Herzen (via Hardcore History)
  • There will come a point when I’m older and technology will have surpassed me, and young people will get frustrated trying to explain it to me.
  • The tragedy of youth is the inability to see the long game.
  • Life is so much better with the love of a good woman.
  • Is it wrong that one of the joys of my job is screwing with telemarketers?
  • My friend said he liked ” hot chicks on skateboards” one morning so I made him this before I went to work. hot chicks on skateboard
  • Helpful hint: wash your hands thoroughly before peeing if you have recently cut jalapeno peppers.
  • Too many options are not good: I hate going to a bar and having to choose between 200 beers. I found the solution (for most bars)… keep your choices to whatever is on tap.
  • My good friend Brendan asked me the other day why I like history so much. The only response I could think of was “because it’s (expletive)ing cool.”
  • I wish teleportation was a thing. How close are we to that?
  • Good Punk band name: “Terms and Conditions.” Feel free to steal.
  • “Our mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults than we would like. It’s how we grow.” – Padme Amidala from Attack of the Clones
  • Pictures cannot possibly capture how massive the Pantheon in Paris is.
  • When I was at the Louvre I thought “Man, no wonder France went bankrupt and the peasants revolted.”
  • The more life I experience, the more I see how accurate famous quotes are.
  • When I was outside of the Buckingham palace, I was thinking: “What if the Queen is in there right now, sitting on the toilet constipated looking out at us?”
  • Smiling panhandlers: frauds….. or very driven?
  • You have at least one thing in common with everyone.
  • My definition of Heroism: giving up what you want most for the greater good.
  • A few political alliterations (or as I call them, “Politicalliterations”) I came up with during the 2012 election while working at a political survey call center:
    • Conniving Congress constantly contrives constitutional contradictions; continuously conning constituents.
    • Research regarding Romney’s record reveal recondite rhetoric regarding Republican requisites; riling Ron’s rabble-rousers. (Ron being Ron Paul)
    • Obama’s organization offends olfactory senses.
    • Bit-by-bit Barack belligerently brings Big Brother. Beware, Boener backs Barack’s Big Brother bills by berating big budgets; blinding beings.
  • A High Five without touching hands = Wi-Five.
  • I should have read more of the assigned books in High School. I’d be much more well-read.
  • Some people complain about turning 30 years old. I turn 30 this year and I’m way more awesome now than I was at 20.

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



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.