July 2, 2020

JF2130: 6 Tips For Hiring A Syndicator Mentor | Syndication School with Theo Hicks


Many people preach, find a mentor to show you the way into real estate so you can shorten your learning curve however, how do you know who you should really choose as a mentor? In this episode, Theo goes over 6 tips to help you in hiring an apartment syndicator mentor. 

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To listen to other Syndication School series about the “How To’s” of apartment syndications and to download your FREE document, visit SyndicationSchool.com. Thank you for listening and I will talk to you tomorrow. 


Joe Fairless: There needed to be a resource on apartment syndication that not only talked about each aspect of the syndication process, but how to actually do each of the things, and go into it in detail… And we thought “Hey, why not make it free, too?” That’s why we launched Syndication School.

Theo Hicks will go through a particular aspect of apartment syndication on today’s episode, and get into the details of how to do that particular thing. Enjoy this episode, and for more on apartment syndication and how to do things, go to apartmentsyndication.com, or to learn more about the Apartment Syndication School, go to syndicationschool.com, so you can listen to all the previous episodes.

Theo Hicks: Hi, Best Ever listeners. Welcome to another episode of The Syndication School series – a free resource focused on the How-tos of apartment syndication. As always, I am your host, Theo Hicks. Each week, we air two podcast episodes that focus on a specific aspect of the apartment syndication investment strategy, and for a lot of these episodes, we offer free resources. These are free PowerPoint presentation templates, free PDF how-to guides, free Excel calculator templates, some sort of resource, some document for you to download for free. All these free documents as well as past syndication school series episodes can be found at syndicationschool.com.

In this episode, I want to revisit a topic we’ve talked about before, but it’s always good, I think, to bring up topics we haven’t talked about for many years, just in case people did not listen to that episode, but also to expand, to elaborate, to look at it through a new lens, because everyone that’s listening to this is growing, I’m growing as well. So it’s always great to revisit old topics to see if there’s extra information, extra value that we can add.

So I wanted to talk about mentorship today, and what triggered this was a great article that someone on the Ashcroft team, Travis Watts, wrote. So it’s on our blog right now; it’s called, Turn a Decade Into a Year – How to “Knowledge Hack”. So his hack was to consider having a mentor. So in this article, he goes over a few examples of people who are super successful and have mentors, and he also says to refer to them as a coach as well, just in case you have a negative connotation for a mentor. Think of it more like a coach like when you’re playing basketball. Sure, the head coach is maybe a mentor, but the purpose of that basketball coach is he’s way older than you, he has way more experience at basketball than you, so he’s trying to teach you what he knows, his knowledge to help you become a better player. So I think this analogy of a basketball coach is good to be applied to business and real estate. Look at a mentor as a coach instead, and realize that they are there to literally teach you what they know, what they’ve done and the successes that they’ve had.

But anyway, so he goes over a quick story of himself and says that at the beginning of his real estate investing career, he was an active investor, he was doing single-family homes, and he did not have a mentor at the time. And eventually, after trial and error of seven years, he realized that there’s other people out there who were doing the same thing he was doing, but a lot more efficiently. They had a lot more connections that he had, they were finding better deals, they had a broader range of skill sets, and ultimately, they were more profitable than he was.

So he did some soul searching, some self-reflection and took a long hard look in the mirror and asked himself, “Was active investing really the best use of his time and his skills?” and so because of this, he made a decision to start partnering up with firms who had much better skill sets than he did, had a much better track record, much better connections and much better efficiencies, and essentially piggybacked off of their success by, in this case, becoming a limited partner. So he transitioned from doing active investing to doing passive investing, because it fit better with his skill set with what he wanted to do.

He said, “After dedicating some time to networking, reading, listening to podcasts, watching how-to videos and seeking mentors, I inevitably became a full-time passive investor in real estate. I left the active single family strategy, behind because I was tired and burned out from trying to do it all myself, trying to make the right calls and know all the ends and outs. In addition, the hands-on approach was taking too much time away from things that I love doing. I had far less spare time because my real estate projects were consuming more and more of my availability. 2015 was the beginning of an entirely new education process; it has been life-changing, to say the least.” So his was major takeaway was that “Mentors can come in many forms. The best advice I ever received was to seek out a mentor or coach who is doing what you want to do and is successful at doing it… Because success leaves clues.”

So in his case, rather than finding someone who was good at single-family homes, he first asked himself should he be doing this in the first place, and once he decided the answer was no, rather than trying to passively invest on his own, he partnered with people who knew what they were doing, he partnered with syndication business that knew what they were doing and passively invested with them. So they, in a sense, were not really his mentor or his coach, but they were the people that he piggybacked off of to launch his business forward.

So that’s what you can do when you’re an apartment syndicator to launch your business forward, to piggyback off someone else’s success – is to find a mentor. So Travis inspired me to go back and review our post. We did a syndication school episode on this before about how to hire a mentor. So now that Travis tells you why you need a mentor, how it can help you turn a decade into a year, how to knowledge hack just by finding someone who’s doing what you’re doing, let’s talk about how to actually find a mentor.

So before we decide to find a mentor, and Travis did this as well, he sat back and asked himself, “Okay, what is it that I actually want to do?” and he defined specifically what he wanted out of a mentor; he knew exactly what he wanted out of a mentor. So that’s what you need to do when you hire a mentor, is know exactly what you want. But before that, it’s important to understand what expectations do you have for a mentor, and then what expectations you shouldn’t have of a mentor if you really want to set yourself up for success. So Travis already went over what you want to get out of a mentor, but the expectations are key here because coaches can be expensive, you’re gonna spend a lot of time searching them out, so just make sure that you’re in the right mindset before you reach out to a mentor, so you’re not wasting their time, and you’re not wasting your time spinning your wheels for multiple years; and to make sure you’re actually finding and identifying the right mentor. That’s probably the most important, is making sure that you have the right expectations that you’re finding the right mentor.

So there’s four things that you should expect that you are going to get out of a good mentor or a good coach, and the number one is going to be expertise on how to do what you’re wanting to do. The keyword there being “how” which we’ll go into in the next tip.

So the mentors shouldn’t just be and have experience in the same field that you’re pursuing, but they should be active in it as well. So if you are an apartment syndicator or an inspiring apartment syndicator, when you’re seeking out a mentor, obviously, you want to seek out someone who is an apartment syndicator, but you also want to make sure that that person is actually actively still doing apartment syndications. So the best mentor would be someone who is actively doing apartment syndications and has way more deals, way more dollars under management. So the next best thing will be someone who has done apartment syndications in the past that has retired, but again, someone who’s actively doing it is going to be completely up to date on what works, what doesn’t work in apartments syndications. Someone who did apartment syndications– I don’t think they even existed decades ago, but someone who did apartment syndications ten years ago or five years ago – those strategies may not work in today’s market. Things change so quickly these days. You want someone who’s actively doing it, and you want someone who’s obviously way more successful than you are. So not someone who’s done only a handful of deals. So that’s the ideal situation. Obviously, if you have to find someone who is not as successful right now, not a billion-dollar syndicator because you can’t afford it, a mentor is better than no mentor, but this is the ideal situation we’re talking about here.

So number two, is that you should expect a coach or mentor to provide you with a Do It Yourself system for how to replicate their success. Remember, in number one, you need an expertise and a how to do what you’re wanting to do. The “how” there is key and the Do It Yourself system is key. So you should have a system of processes that they follow themselves, and then they should hand it off to you, and then you use those processes to replicate their success, but you are the one that’s doing everything. They’re not doing it; they’re just giving you the blueprint that allows you to navigate this industry without taking any wrong term and falling into any booby traps, but you actually have go out there and do it yourself. I’ll elaborate on that one a little bit more in the next section about what you shouldn’t expect.

So thirdly, and what’s probably the most important, is that a mentor or a coach should be an ally that you can call upon to talk to about yourself and to work out any problem you are facing, whether it be real estate or personal. So the only way this is gonna work is if you pay them. So if you are paying this person, then you are not going to get feel guilty or selfish about only talking about yourself and not asking them any questions. In typical social interactions, I talk and then you talk, and then I talk and then you talk. Maybe on one day, I talk about a problem I have going on; the next day, you talk about problems you’ve got going on in your life; it’s reciprocal. But in this case, since you’re paying them, you don’t have to follow normal social conventions. You can even be selfish; you don’t even need to be interesting. You can talk about whatever you want to, whatever you need to in that moment. So that’s something you should expect out of the mentor in that a mentor or coach should be willing to offer to you.

So I was [unintelligible [00:13:00].20]  this podcast won’t come out for a long time. I can’t even remember what her name was, but she’s a coach, and she was saying that most people she talks to that there’s things holding them back, those obstacles aren’t a lack of real estate knowledge, or a lack of deals, or a lack of raising money. It’s typically some personal problem they’re going through, some mindset block. Maybe they’ve got family issues or other personal problems. Maybe they got certain mindset blocks. So being able to talk through personal problems you got going on in your life, being able to uncover certain mindset blocks that you have is important with a mentor. So you want to find someone that you can talk to about more things than just “Hey, how do I find more deals?” Because maybe you have some sort of block or maybe you’ve got a personal issue that’s taking up a lot of time that’s not allowing you to spend the time you need to actually follow the steps for finding more deals. So number three, it should be somebody you can talk to you about anything.

The fourth thing you should expect – and Travis talks about this in his blog post – is networking, relationships and connections. So this is another reason why it’s important that your mentor is active, because if they’re still doing apartment syndications, if they have a billion-dollar portfolio or a $100 million dollar portfolio or even a $50 million portfolio, they know property management companies, they know brokers, they know contractors, they know mortgage brokers, they know all the movers and shakers in that industry. So they should be able to connect you with people who are relevant to your business, even if they’re not in your same real estate market… Because we live in a national– even from a real estate perspective, it’s very national now because people invest everywhere. A lot of these brokerages, a lot of these property management companies are all over the country. So just because your mentor is across the country from you, it doesn’t mean that they don’t know someone who knows someone that could help you in your market, or the very least, you can always fall back on that Do It Yourself blueprint for how to find the right people in your market based on how they found the people they know in their market.

So those are the four things that you should expect, that you want out of a mentor. Number one is expertise on what you’re wanting to do, which includes being active. Number two is providing you with a blueprint, a Do It Yourself system to replicate the success. Number three is someone you can call upon to talk about whatever you want, without having to be interesting, feel guilty or not want to be selfish, and number four is you should expect a lot of relationships and connections.

Now, on the flip side, what shouldn’t you expect? Obviously, you could just say, “Well, the exact opposite of those four things,” but there’s two things in addition to the opposite of those four things – so someone who’s not an expert, someone who doesn’t give you a blueprint, someone who doesn’t let you talk about whatever you want and someone who doesn’t have any connections. Obviously, those are things that you don’t want out of a mentor, but there’s two other things that you don’t want out of a mentor and that you shouldn’t expect out of a mentor. Number one is a knight in shining armor. The mentor is not going to be your Savior. You’re not going to hire a mentor, and then poof, every single problem you have is going to be solved without effort on your end. So yes, they’re going to offer you expertise, they’re going to be an ally, they’re gonna have connections, but at the end of the day, you are still going to be required to take action. So they’re not gonna do anything for you. They’re not gonna actually go out there and find new deals; they’re not gonna find you money. If they do, then our recommendation would be to run. I’ll go more in detail on why in the second thing you shouldn’t expect, but they’re not going to do everything for you. Instead, they’re gonna give you the tools that you need in order to become your own savior, quite frankly.

So the second thing that you do not want to expect is a Done For You program. So if a mentor does offer you some Done For You program, you pay them and you just sit back and they do everything for you, you want to run. If a mentor or coach ever promises you something that doesn’t require any work or effort on your part and just money, then it’s most likely going to be a scam, and even if it’s not a scam, you’re not gonna learn anything. So you’re gonna be reliant on that person for the rest of your life, and you’re not going to be able to build the foundation of knowledge that’s required to sustain a business. Even if you are able to attain a high level of success using one of these programs, it’s going to be really unstable. Once you lose that program, once that mentor stops mentoring people, stops coaching people, then what are you going to do? You’ve got this $10 million portfolio that you’ve done nothing to create and then you lose your mentor. What’s going to happen? What’s gonna happen when you can’t get your mentor on the phone and some issue goes wrong? He goes on a week vacation and your entire business collapses. So any Done For You program is too risky from a scam perspective. Even if, for some reason, it is not a scam, it’s too risky in a sustainable perspective. So those are the two things that you do not want out of a mentor. Number one, a knight in shining armor and two, a Done For You program.

So now that you know what to expect, what to not expect, what you want and don’t want out of a mentor… When do you hire a mentor? I briefly talked about this in the beginning of the episode, or I guess after I talked about Travis’s blog post. And Travis also mentioned this in his blog post – you can hire a mentor once you know why you want to hire a mentor in the first place. You have a specific outcome that you want to achieve by hiring that mentor. So is it immediate access to expert advice about apartment syndications? Is it you want a system, a blueprint for reaching whatever your financial goal happens to be? Do you need an unbiased person to selfishly speak with? Do you need connections in your industry? What is your exact outcome for finding a mentor?

And then once you have your outcome, you can go out there and actually find the right mentor, the person who can actually help you accomplish that. So if you don’t care about speaking to someone unbiasedly and selfishly, you don’t need to find a mentor who’s a Tony Robbins certified life coach. You don’t care about that stuff; you don’t need that. But if you do want that mindset help then, you’re not going to want to find someone who just does apartment syndication and that’s it.

Lastly, how do you actually find a mentor? At the end of the day, the really only effective way to find a mentor is word of mouth referrals. So find someone else who’s a little more successful than you in apartment syndications. This is syndication school, but obviously, you can apply this to anything. Find someone who’s a little bit more successful than you in whatever niche that you’re in, and then ask them who their mentor is, and then go and find that someone. If you don’t know someone with a mentor or if you don’t know where to get a referral, then you’re probably not ready to hire a mentor. You need to get out there and meet more people and start meeting other apartment investors.

So that concludes this episode. This is information we’ve talked about before, but I wanted to revisit it for those who hadn’t heard it before and to elaborate a little bit more on the mentorship question, especially based off of the blog post that Travis Watts posted recently. So again, his blog post is, Turn a Decade Into a Year – How to “Knowledge Hack”, and then if you want to go back to the blog post about mentorships that I use as the guide for today’s conversation, we wrote it all the way back in 2017 – so nearly three years ago, but just yesterday we were writing this, and that’s how to approach hiring a real estate mentor.

So that concludes this episode. Thank you for listening Best Ever listeners, and make sure you check out the other syndication school episodes and free documents we have from the syndication school episodes; those are on syndicationschool.com. Have a best ever day and I will talk to you soon.

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