Each week for the Best Ever Round Table, the three Best Ever Show hosts — Ash Patel, Slocomb Reed, and Travis Watts — come together for a deep dive into a commercial real estate investing topic.
In this episode, Ash, Slocomb, and Travis talk about mentors, advisors, books, various quotes, and other things that have helped them along on their commercial real estate journeys. They share the Best Ever advice they’ve ever received, their thoughts on paid mentoring and coaching programs versus free coaching and seminars, plus their favorite books on investing and finance.
Best Ever Advice They’ve Received
- “When you’re building a business, you need to learn how to put a dollar value on your time and focus on the aspects of your business that are above that dollar value. Find ways to give other people the work that can be done below that dollar value.” —Slocomb
- “Diversifying is important, and especially for some of our Best Ever listeners who have only been in real estate for 10 years or so, and have had a great ride — you really ought to look at diversifying.” —Ash
- “Double down on what’s working.” —Travis
- “Find ways to add value to people and be compensated for that value that don’t require your time.” —Slocomb
- “Everybody has an opinion, but the only opinion that matters is your own.” —Travis
Favorite Investing/Finance Books
- Best Ever Apartment Syndication Book by Joe Fairless
- The Hands-Off Investor by Brian Burke
- Rich Dad series by Robert Kiyosaki
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Travis Watts: Welcome, Best Ever listeners, to the weekly Round Table. I'm Travis Watts, joined with Ash Patel, Slocomb Reed. We get together as Best Ever hosts once per week to talk about real estate discussions. Got a fun one for you. Today we're talking about mentors, advisors, books, various quotes, things that have helped us all along, advice that we've been given that we would like to share on this episode here today.
So we'll dive right in. If each of you can give a quick background to yourself, what you do in the real estate space for those not familiar, and then we will dive into the questions. Again, I'm Travis Watts, full-time passive investor, director of Investor Relations with Joe Fairless at Ashcroft Capital. And let's start with Ash, and first question I have for all of us today is what is the Best Ever advice that you've ever received, either about investing or about finance? So Slocomb, we will start with you on the first question here.
Slocomb Reed: Thank you, Travis. Again, I'm Slocomb Reed, apartment owner-operator in Cincinnati, Ohio. And I think it's a two-parter for me, man. There's so much good general advice out there, but I think the things that were most impactful for me in the finance and investing category - it was actually... I was in my real estate agent licensure classes here in Ohio - man, 2014... The first time after the lecture and the quiz, just asking the agent who was also a broker questions, and he said, "When you're building a business, you need to learn how to put a dollar value on your time, and focus on the aspects of your business that are above that dollar value, and find ways to give other people the work that can be done below that dollar value." And he said, "As a residential real estate agent, honestly start at $50 an hour, because there are a lot of things you can do as an agent that will be worth more than $50 an hour, like generating leads for new clients, and there are a lot of tasks that can be hired out for less than that."
So it was really helpful for me to understand, recognize, where is my time most valuable, how valuable is my time, all things considered. Should I be the one fixing that toilet, or should I call someone else to fix the toilet and go back to do another open house and find another client?
The second layer on that advice of figuring out the value of my time was figuring out, mostly through books and frankly through Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad type books, finding ways to add value to people and be compensated for that value that don't require my time. That was like stage two of that advice. As an apartment owner, I am adding value to people by providing a home that is safe, everything is working, it's welcoming, and I am being paid rent; how much I get paid and how much I earn is not a reflection of how hard I work or how many hours I put in. It's a reflection of the value being delivered, which doesn't now use up that much of my time.
Travis Watts: I love that. Two great answers, and embedded the stories there, which was going to be my follow-up question, but that's totally cool. So just to caveat, the first part of what you said, just a quick side note - I love those stories. It cracks me up when, say, a new fast food restaurant opens in some town as KFC is giving out a free bucket of chicken and the line is four and a half hours long, and you're thinking, "Are you not thinking about your time value?"
Slocomb Reed: How long does it take me to save $5 on a bucket of chicken? If it's more than six minutes, I'm out. I'm paying for the chicken across the street.
Travis Watts: Yeah. Anyway, funny stuff. So Ash, Best Ever advice you've ever received on investing or finance. What comes to mind?
Ash Patel: Yeah. Thanks, Travis. Hey, Best Ever listeners, Ash Patel. I've been a full-time non-residential commercial investor for over 10 years. Travis, it's not direct advice. It's more indirect advice that I've received, and it's on diversification. So if I think back to the dot-com bubble, it's when I started working in the corporate world, I for the first time had a half-decent paycheck, and everybody was putting money in stocks. And some of the older guys, I would ask them, "Hey, are you not all-in on tech stocks?" And they'd be like, "No, I've got this allocation of 30% in bonds and 20% in this..." And I'm like, "You guys are out of your mind. The market’s going through the roof. How are you not all in?" And come to find out six months later, the tech bubble bursts and everybody that was all tech gets decimated.
And fast-forwarding to today, maybe those events and those lessons that stuck with me, because I don't invest in just one real estate class, I invest in other people's syndications, multiple asset classes, but I also invest in businesses and start-ups. So maybe some of that fear of an implosion is still in the back of my mind, but diversifying is important. And especially for some of our Best Ever listeners who have been in real estate for 10 years or so and have had a great ride, you really ought to look at diversifying.
Travis Watts: Love that. Couldn't agree more. Very like-minded, you know that; we've talked a lot about that offline. But just real quick for me to follow up on this. Two things come to mind. Double down on what's working, is the one I always mentioned on podcast, that came from a mentor of mine so long ago. And it just came at the right time for me to receive the message, because I had launched 20 small businesses between high school, college and post-college, and all of them had failed or were in the process of failing. They were all just very small ventures, mind you, not big companies by any means, but my real estate was working. So I took that advice and I ran with it. I doubled-down on real estate, and that's been the story. But to your point, Ash, I invest in other things as well.
And the other one is that this... I guess my own advice to myself is everybody has an opinion, but the only opinion that matters is your own. And what I mean by that is... I remember there was this financial guru in 2015, saying, "The sky is falling. The market’s about to crash. It's going to be the new Great Depression," blah, blah, blah. "Get out of real estate. Get out of stocks. Stay in CASP," yada, yada. And I could have easily taken that advice. I trusted this person, and he wasn't the only one saying things like this, but I decided otherwise. And I thought, "Hmm."
But I still see a bullish case for certain types of real estate and certain things that have already been working for me. And I've looked back at recessions, I've looked back at market cycles, and I think this still makes sense for me to continue on. So I made that choice and I had to take my own advice in that situation. So something to keep in mind. But great points, you guys.
I want to pivot and talk about paid mentoring or paid coaching programs. Have either of you ever taken part in anything like this? If so, what was the outcome, or what are your thoughts in general on paid mentorships and paid coaching? Slocomb?
Slocomb Reed: I have not. This is another time during the Round Table where I have more questions than answers. I've considered several... And I think you may end up asking this later, Travis, but I'm a voracious reader, primarily listener. Now if I'm in the car, if I'm doing the dishes or the laundry, I'm listening to a book. I go to a lot of meetups, I get coffee, buy people lunch, but I haven't done any of the paid mentorship programs yet. I'm planning to.
I have a follow-up question for this from you guys, if I can hijack your question for a moment... Of course, a paid mentorship program, especially in commercial real estate, very often the primary topic that's covered, or the primary skill that is discussed, is raising capital. And while I'm interested in raising capital, it's not the only reason I would want to join a mentorship group or a mastermind. And I also am not sure whether or not I want it to be commercial real estate specific, or if I want it to be a little more holistic, about being around people who are growing in various industries, but growing at a similar trajectory or velocity that I am.
So I'm wondering, especially when it comes to raising capital, do you guys recommend joining a mastermind that is real estate specific, where everyone else would be doing similar things? Or would you recommend joining a mastermind that is more general lifestyle, general wisdom-driven, where there may be people within that mastermind who are looking for opportunities to invest in commercial real estate?
Ash Patel: I might be able to answer some of those in this question and the next one. Travis, the answer to your question is yes, I have had multiple coaches. And it was about two years ago, three years ago, I had a friend of mine who every year paid over $100,000 for his coaches. And I was blown away. I'm thinking, "Listen, man. For $100,000, I'll coach you. What can you possibly be getting that's worth $100,000?" And then you look around you, a lot of high achievers, a lot of successful people all have coaches or mentors.
So I took the plunge, and my first coach was a pretty renowned coach in the real estate industry. And it was more of a Tony Robbins disciple coach, where it was pretty high-level. And the fault of mine was I didn't have goals before I set out on this coaching program. All I remember is this coach has a lot of high achievers, Olympic athletes, Fortune 500 CEOs... And I just assumed if I go through that program, things will be better, I'll accomplish more, I'll be at the same level as a lot of these other people. And in reality, I really should have went in there with specific goals and outcomes that I wanted to achieve. Instead, I just went through the paces; and yeah, I'm sure a lot of positives came out of that.
Well, later on, I hired a local business coach. The first coach was remote, all Zoom meetings. The second coach was literally there to make sure I don't have a nervous breakdown. At the time, I was opening two restaurants, had a bunch of deals going on, I was still a one-man shop, and I was literally just inundated. I could have worked morning, day and night, and not made a dent in anything that I had to accomplish. So this coach was very specific, task-oriented, goal-oriented per business; so it was much different, much more beneficial. So for anybody wanting a coach, write down your desired outcome or a specific area that you want to improve on.
So Slocomb, if there's something that you want to improve with your business, maybe find a mentor or a coach specific for that. If somebody wants to improve their relationship with their kids or their spouse, have another coach, a therapist even, for that. But be specific on what you want to accomplish, and find the right person. A one size fits all is probably not the best approach for this.
Travis Watts: 100% I love that last part. I've always talked about that, too. Let's say your first goal is "I want to be a millionaire." Okay, cool. So you go out and you find a coach, you take action, you become a millionaire... That may be it right there. That was a great coach to get you to that point. But now, it's "How do I launch my own charity, or trust?" or whatever it may be. Now that's a different coach. So coaches and mentors can be books. They could be people. They could be programs. They can be a lot of different things. But great points.
To answer my own question, I've never paid directly for a coach on a paid basis. I had a lot of mentors and a lot of coaches, let's call it, on a negotiated basis, where it's like, if I bring this value to you or your business, then can you help me understand this or help me with that. And I'll share a fun story... When I first got onto social media - that was like our last episode is what are we all doing on social media and what's worked and what hasn't... And I mentioned that a lot of things weren't working for me, especially with Instagram and whatever.
So this guy had listened to me on a couple of podcasts I did, it was I think BiggerPockets Rookie Podcast, which I talked a lot about getting started with house hacking and with some flips I used to do and vacation rentals... This guy was so interested in that and ready to get going, but didn't have any money. He's like, "Look, I see you're on Instagram, I see you're on Facebook, and I also see you could use some help with your posts." So he actually came to mentor and coach me and to help me with that, and in exchange we'd meet once per week on an hourly basis. And all I did was share with them what worked and what didn't and my experiences of getting started in real estate. So something to keep in mind. You don't always have to go with paid. You don't always have to go with unpaid. Sometimes there's a hybrid or an in-between. So great points, you guys. Appreciate you sharing.
Break: [00:14:07] - [00:15:54]
Travis Watts: What about free coaching? This is an interesting topic. Free coaching, free seminars. Let's talk about free seminars, free mentors. What are your guys' thoughts on that? Slocomb, do you want to start?
Slocomb Reed: It's a great question, Travis. My experience with free seminars has been exclusively with the ones that lead to an expensive seminar. The one-day sales pitch that leads you into the one-week local, that leads you into the three days in Vegas. I assume that's not what you're asking about.
What I will say within my own business is that I've been trying lately to create opportunities to offer free coaching by exchanging some of my knowledge, experience, advice for someone who is newer to real estate, for some of their time, talent, effort. And that's something that has worked relatively well for me in the past.
There are important things that need to be done, that I don't make enough time to do. So if I can delegate those to someone who is interested in learning from me, especially when it comes to lead generation acquisitions, give them some of the... Not necessarily the negotiating or the understanding of values, but if I can give them the blocking and tackling of lead generation, they work a lead to the point that we know that there is a person who owns property who has some interest in selling, and then they have the opportunity to hand it over to me and see how I take it from there... And make sure that I'm giving them the opportunity to ask questions, giving good answers to those questions.
That's free coaching, or coaching and mentorship in exchange for effort, is something that I have done. I've done more giving than receiving in that regard, I believe. I will say, especially when it comes to acquisitions, I compensate them on a percentage of the value of the deal or the amount of money that can be made on the back end, so they're getting paid when actual revenue or profit is generated.
Travis Watts: Love that. We have a lot in common there. Ash, your thoughts.
Ash Patel: Yeah, I've got a lengthy opinion on this. I love helping, mentoring, coaching other people, and I've done it my entire career. When I was an IT manager, I always coached people. And when I got into real estate, it was the same thing. I would spend hours and hours talking to anybody, trying to help them. And then it got to the point where people were hitting me up pretty often, and I would still spend about 45 minutes to an hour with anybody; but then if they wanted a second call, I would ask for one homework assignment, and that was find three commercial properties. Tell me what you like or don't like about each. There's no right or wrong answer. I just want to know if they're going to put in 10 minutes of effort to do that. And literally, I would say 99% of the people did not put the effort in. The 1% that did, I would give them as much time as they needed.
But going back to paid versus unpaid mentorship. I started a mastermind about six months ago, and I've got I would say 12 paid members and eight members that are either business partners I've done deals with or friends that I wanted to see look at real estate and get out of their corporate grind. And the people that paid for it, all are crushing it. They're doing great deals, they're raising capital, they're marketing themselves. All of my buddies that were in there for free would randomly show up, and when they did show up, they were disruptive, because everyone else was putting the time in, they built rapport with each other, and my buddies would show up, ask a couple questions and leave and not show up for a couple more weeks... And that was a big lesson learned.
I really tried to help people that didn't want to be helped, or for whatever reason they weren't passionate about real estate, and that's okay. But the kicker is they had no skin in the game; so they had no incentive to show up every week. So anybody that is putting on a mentoring program or coaching program, you have to charge for it no matter what it is. There's got to be some skin in the game. So I'm a big believer in you have to pay for it, you have to charge for it. And if you are taking somebody's time for free, you really owe it to them, whether it's in time, money, finding a deal, somehow helping them.
Another story that I'll share is, I met this guy at dinner. The guy's in his '80s, it was at some investment dinner, and he started talking. We had a conversation. We actually dominated the conversation for that night, I had to apologize to my wife and his wife later for doing that. But I followed up with an email, and I said, "Hey, Lee, I would love to spend more time with you. You are already a wealth of knowledge that one night. I can't imagine what you could do if we had more time to interact."
And I said, "I know money doesn't move the needle, but if ever you need help around the house, whether it's hanging a TV, doing yard work, or anything that you need two people for, cleaning the garage, I'm there." So here I am. My time is somewhat valuable in my own head, but I'm willing to give all of that up to do yard work, clean his garage, just for time with him. So offer something of value in return, if somebody's going out of their way to mentor or help you.
Travis Watts: I love that so much. And one of you mentioned Tony Robbins earlier, and I've just got to say this about one of his stories, which I love. It was one of the branches of our military, I think it was the army... They were trying to get him to come speak to the new recruits or whatever it was, or some kind of special training. And you know, "I'm busy. I'm busy." "Okay, $100,000, come speak." "No. I'm busy." "$150,000." "No." "$200,000. Come speak." "No, no." And they said, "Alright, look. Do you want to come out to our base, drive some tanks, blow some stuff up?" And he goes, "Yeah, I'm in. I'll speak with your guys." Because he's not motivated by the money. He makes tons of money. So you've got to find something that you can provide. That's a great point, Ash.
So I would break it down like this... Coaching is a lot more specific than mentorship, in my opinion. It's very specific. So I would say it's possible and it does exist, but it's quite rare to have great free coaches that are willing to give you that much time on an ongoing basis. I would say free seminars, I agree with you Slocomb. There usually is some kind of upsell or sales pitch that goes fee seminar to the $300 seminar to the $1,000 seminar to the $10,000 seminar. It's usually a pyramid like that. Not always, but in a lot of cases.
And then free mentors definitely exist. We're all examples of free mentors. We all give a lot of our time back. And again, a book can be a mentor, in my opinion. A person can be a mentor. Our parents were mentors, friend or co-workers, bosses. There's a lot of forms of mentorship, so it certainly exists. So, great points.
Alright, let's wrap it up. We haven't talked much about books too much, but what is your favorite book on investing or finance or one that's made some kind of impact in your journey? Slocomb, do you want to start?
Slocomb Reed: With regards to the book that I recommend to people who are interested in getting into real estate investing, typically within my spheres, those are people who want to invest actively... So the first book I end up recommending, if they haven't read it already, is the Millionaire Real Estate Investor from the Keller organization, Gary Keller and some co-authors.
It's, in my opinion, the best succinct 30,000 ft. view of what is available to someone in real estate investing. Starting by breaking all investing down into the long-term hold, cash flow play and short-term transactional investing and figuring out, do your goals require transactional investing, because you need high levels of income now that will also be taxed at high levels? Or is this a long-term play? Is this about long-term growth? And here are the strategies that fall into that, depending on your goals. It's the best 30,000 ft. view of what is available to someone in real estate investing, particularly if they want to invest actively. Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller.
Travis Watts: Awesome, love it. Ash, favorite book.
Ash Patel: Travis, it's going to be two books, not specific on investing. The two books that had a huge impact on me. The first one is Rocket Fuel. I remember back in my corporate days, our IT department brought in a coach to optimize us. And my director at the time said, "I wish Ash would follow through on things. He's very good at learning something and handing it off, and then moving on to the next thing." And I thought, "Yeah, I've gotta get better at that," the negative aspect of my personality. And this coach says, "Wow, that sounds like CIO material." And I was blown away; like, he thought that was an attribute.
So later on in life, when I became a real estate investor, I read Rocket Fuel, and I learned that there's either a visionary or an integrator. And that flaw that I thought I had my whole life where I get bored quickly, I move on from one thing to another, is really just being a visionary. So all these years, what I thought was a flaw is really what contributed to a lot of my success, and it's quite honestly an attribute.
So any the Best Ever listeners out there that feel the same way, don't follow through on things, have a lot of creativity, or have visions of what you want to do, read that book. You might truly be a visionary. And for those integrators who want to be entrepreneurs but don't have it in them, it talks about being the best number two, and if that's what your personality is, that's what you've got to do, and that's where you'll find an enormous amount of success.
And then the second book was Who, Not How. Once you figure out what side of the spectrum you fall on, Who, Not How is another game-changer. And I hired an assistant based on that book, and based on my coaches. But just an absolute game-changer. All the things that we do because we think we have to, it's just - we have to get out of our own way. So Rocket Fuel, and Who, Not How.
Travis Watts: I love that. I would say, some uncommon books, so I appreciate you sharing that. A lot of people circulate the same books, and to that point, nobody plugged Joe Fairless' book, I got to do it. It's shameless. The Best Ever Apartment Syndication Book. My world is syndications, and that's a great book for active and for passive. I think it's 400 and some pages, so a lot of material, a lot of great stuff. Still very relevant here today, even though I think it was written in 2016, 2017.
And The Hands-Off Investor, Brian Burke. Another great book for anyone looking to be hands off in syndications. Pick any book out of the Rich Dad series. Big fan, I think I've read them all. Most of them anyway. Cashflow Quadrant made a huge impact. And a lot of what we talked about, just to conclude this episode, is knowing yourself. And Ash, you brought up some great points with the books that you were talking about.
So some people, quite frankly, need the $50,000 seminar to move to the next level. Some people need the $100,000 coach. Some people, maybe like Slocomb and I, are avid readers, and I'm willing to sit down and burn through two or three books in a month. That makes the biggest impact for $20 or free at your public library, stuff like that. So it all depends on knowing you. Knowing Oneself, Peter Drucker, another great book. So with that, appreciate your guys' advice and insights on the show. Thank you everybody for tuning in to another Round Table episode, and thanks for being the Best Ever listener. We'll see you next week on the next episode.
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