We typically hear that if we follow our passions, that will naturally lead us to success. However, in today’s episode, Travis questions the validity of this advice. What if you turn out to be bad at your passion? Or, what if you lose steam for your passion–what are you left with then? Take a walk with Travis as he discusses the idea of chasing your passion vs. chasing an opportunity.
Want more? We think you’ll like this episode: JF2407: Find Your Real Estate Passion with Kristen Ray
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Travis Watts: Hey everybody and welcome to another episode of The Actively Passive Investing Show. I’m your host, Travis watts. If you’re tuning in on audio-only, I’m sorry about the audio. Case in point right there. I’m on a walk today, and sometimes I get these moments of inspiration, these little epiphanies… And I want to share them and it’s best to do it at the moment and not days later, as I forget what my point was in sharing the message. I appreciate you being flexible with that. If you’re tuning in on YouTube, you can enjoy this beautiful walk with me. Again, apologies if you’re tuning in on audio.
Today I wanted to talk about kind of a unique message. Here we are in December, you wouldn’t know it. Where I am here today in Florida, it looks like mid-summer. But I had this epiphany and I was thinking back, been doing a lot of self-reflection… Here we are at kind of the end of the year in 2021 and I was thinking about chasing your passion versus chasing opportunity.
A really interesting story… I grew up with people telling me to find my passion, get good at it, follow my dreams, pursue my passion – all the generic advice that you get from adults, peers, and whatnot. I did that, you guys, I actually took that advice. My passion back when was music. I was a drummer, I was a singer in bands, and I wanted to work with musicians, I wanted to open a recording studio, I wanted to go tour, I wanted to do Broadway work, work in theaters, I want to do all of it. I pursued my passion from junior high, high school, college, and post-college, slightly post-college. That was my passion, was doing that kind of stuff. And it was fun, but what I failed to realize is, quite frankly, I wasn’t very good at drumming, I wasn’t very good, certainly not good at singing… I wasn’t good at business, I wasn’t good at all this stuff. Yes, I could have gotten better at it but as I really immersed myself into the business, as I did an internship, as I actually moved to New York City, as I actually got to networking with people who had been doing this for a very long time, I quickly fell out of love and kind of lost my passion for what it was I was pursuing. And it was really going to be going against the grain, so to speak. This was 2008 and 2009 as I was going through college, so I’m coming out of the tail end of the recession. No one’s hiring, everybody’s laying off, people with 30 years of experience aren’t getting jobs… Then here I am, somebody with very little skill set, no real-world experience, trying to enter the job market in a highly competitive space that requires a lot of connections, and who you know, and what you know, and all this kind of stuff. And I made a decision; I had a little quarter-life crisis, so to speak, I decided I’m going to move back to Colorado where I was raised, and I’m going to find an opportunity.
And one of those opportunities – I ended up finding two that I decided to pursue, rather than pursuing my passion. The first was entering the world of the oil industry. So there was a big problem – Colorado was blowing up with oil production, and they couldn’t find enough people to do manual labor, be away from home, work 100 hours per week, outside in the elements, swinging sledgehammers. I guess that makes sense, especially in today’s world. I still don’t know how they find people who are willing to do that kind of stuff. But anyway, I took one of those jobs, because I knew that I wanted to get into real estate, which was the second opportunity.
Travis Watts: Real estate in my market was about 40% off from the previous price levels just a year or two prior to this time, pre-recession. So with that, I certainly wasn’t passionate about the oil industry; I knew nothing about the oil industry. I certainly wasn’t passionate about working in negative 20-degree weather swinging a sledgehammer. But it was the best earning opportunity that I could find. And I knew one thing back then – this is the way that my mind worked, was I needed to make more money if I want to get in the real estate game.
I didn’t know anything about syndications, or raising money from other people, or any of that kind of stuff, all I knew was I wanted to buy up more and more real estate at a discount and I needed some pretty big money to do it. So I did make a lot of sacrifices and be very frugal. I’ve shared a lot of these stories in previous episodes. But long story short, I pursued the opportunity, and the opportunity at that time was working a job I really wasn’t passionate about, for the money. I’m not recommending you or anybody else do that specifically, but that’s an example of what I mean by pursuing an opportunity.
The second was, as I mentioned – real estate’s 40% off, I want to get in the game, and I wanted to start accumulating cash flow. So at the time, I knew nothing about real estate either. I had never invested in real estate, and didn’t probably even really understand fully the tax advantages and the full meaning of cash flow, but it certainly wasn’t a passion of mine; it was just an opportunity, that prices are depressed. Did you know — a side note really quick; I just learned this the other day… In the great real estate recession in the United States, the average national rent only dropped $100 per month on multifamily. On apartments, the average rents were $1,300 a month going into the recession, and then dropped to about $1,200. That’s pretty crazy to think about. If you or I owned a single-family home and we went through one of the worst recessions that we’ve ever had in US history that was specific to real estate, and all we had to sacrifice was $100 per month on our rental – not too bad. Obviously, some markets were beaten up worse than others, like Las Vegas, Miami, there were really hard-hit markets where I’m sure those statistics… That’s not accurate to there. But that’s just the national scale and something to think about.
So I knew one thing, I wanted to pursue real estate for the cash flow, not for the equity upside. Quite frankly, in 2009, when I entered the real estate market, a lot of people say “Oh, great timing.” I was catching a falling knife, so to speak. Everyone was telling me not to buy real estate. Quite frankly, real estate prices were still dropping. The market didn’t start to recover, at least where I was, to probably late 2011, somewhere in 2012. That’s where it really got a nice up-kick and started reversing, that’s where I started flipping houses and changing my strategy, which is another example of chasing the opportunity, not passion. I certainly wasn’t passionate about flipping houses. I hated every second about it, but it just made a lot of sense. I was buying these homes, some homes I was buying and doing almost nothing to, renting them out for about a year, and selling them. A couple of those, I nearly doubled my money. It was really just a crazy opportunity, but certainly not being a drummer in a band.
So the point that I want to make here is –this is what’s interesting… Even though I wasn’t passionate about the oil field, for example, and I certainly wasn’t, I ended up finding a passion in the oil field, because it was paying me well. And what that meant to me was that I could buy more real estate, which was my ultimate goal.
So the oilfield started helping me achieve my goals, therefore, I got passionate about getting good at what I was doing, so that I could get bigger bonuses, I could work more overtime hours, and all these things, so that I could acquire more real estate. That was really the purpose. I ended up getting very passionate about something that, at first, I had no passion for, whatsoever. Let’s say that you’re doing something that you’re not very passionate about; just making this up for example purposes, but let’s say that you’re a programming engineer IT professional, you don’t really have a passion for that, and you’re just kind of doing it for the money… Well, here’s the thing – you could, for example, invest in cash-flowing real estate, and over time, build up enough cash flow to leave that job and to pursue something that you actually want to pursue.
For example — we’ll use my example. If I still had, today, a passion for being a drummer in a band, or a singer, or I wanted to tour, or I wanted to go open a recording studio, or something like that – which by the way, that’s not my passion anymore. But if it were, I would now have the ability to go pursue that kind of stuff without having to worry about the financial side of it, because I have enough cash flow to cover my lifestyle and my living expenses.
Travis Watts: My big picture philosophy, you guys, which I’m sure I’ve shared before, is I believe people should pursue overall long-term thinking here when you’re achieving your goals… Pursue the things that you love, but then outsource the things that you don’t love. The best way I’ve found to do that is through investing in cash flow and through investing in real estate. But the investing game, to me, is very simple. It is that you invest in things that produce passive income or cash flow. You use that to enhance your lifestyle; 101 at its basic bones, that’s really what I believe in, that’s really what I do, and that’s really what I teach.
So with that in mind, you guys –I know this was kind of a shorter little offbeat snippet episode… But really consider that you can find passion in things you may not be passionate about. Like, what I do today is I found that I’m actually passionate about coaching people, about educating people. I don’t do coaching as a paid service, I’m just saying I do this to give back and to help people, because that’s what I’m truly passionate about. If I find something in life that works, I want to share it with other people. That’s just me and that’s always been the case. I don’t care if it’s a weight loss program, or a workout program, or a new car, whatever it is, if I find something that I see as a true value to others, or to me rather, I want to share that with others.
But anyway, for what it’s worth, the message is don’t pursue your passion, rather pursue the opportunity. Do I think real estate is still a good opportunity in 2021 going on 2022? I do. The primary reason, the amount of money that’s been printed in the system I don’t think is a reflection of the current pricing that we see on real estate. I still think there’s some room to go there. But I’m not a big advocate for buy-low/sell-high anyway, so I still think multifamily real estate has a competitive yield compared to other asset classes. In other words, if I could only make 6% cash flow on real estate today, but I could go put my money in the bank at 8%, I certainly wouldn’t be an investor in multifamily, I would go put my money in the bank. But today I get nothing by putting my money in the bank. I get nearly nothing out of bonds, or CD’s, or anything like that. For what it’s worth, I still think we have some room to go. But you know what? That’s my opinion, it doesn’t really matter. You do you, but I wanted to share my thoughts on this and hopefully you guys found it valuable. Thanks for tuning in. As always, we’ll see you next time on The Actively Passive Investing Show. Have a great day.
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