May 20, 2017

JF991: Being a GURU is GOOD and Why You Should Educate Others

Should you teach what you know about real estate? Afraid of being a GURU? So what?!? Our guest preaches why you should give your audience a platform to learn your failures and successes in real estate.

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Heather Havenwood Real Estate Background:

– CEO of Havenwood Worldwide, LLC
– Entrepreneur and is regarded as a top authority on digital marketing, sales coaching, and online publishing
– Named Top 50 Must Follow Women Entrepreneurs for 2017 by Huffington Post
– In 2006 she created an online marketing publishing company that went from 0 to $1 million in sales in less than 12 months – Based in Austin, Texas
– Say hi to her at
– Best Ever Book: 48 Laws of Power

Click here for a summary of Heather’s Best Ever advice:

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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any fluff. With us today, Heather Havenwood. How are you doing, Heather?

Heather Havenwood: I’m good, thank you for having me!

Joe Fairless: Yeah, nice to have you on the show, and looking forward to getting to know you and diving in. A little bit about Heather – she is the CEO of Havenwood Worldwide. She’s an entrepreneur regarded as a top authority on digital marketing sales, coaching and online publishing. She’s named top 50 must-follow women entrepreneurs for 2017 by Huffington Post, and she is also a real estate investor, based in Austin, Texas. With that being said, Heather, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your focus?

Heather Havenwood: Absolutely. I’ve been in the information market industry and real estate industry since 2001, so I’ve been through a couple cycles, as they call them, in the real estate industry. But mainly, from 2001 to 2007 I traveled the country teaching buying and selling real estate, doing more foreclosures, short sales, and then actually produced over 450 seminar events in the real estate industry. I worked for Robert Allen, Ron LeGrand, all the big names back then, and really learning two pieces: learning real estate investing, and then learning what I call the publishing of real estate information, the educational conversation.

So I’ve been doing that for a long time, and then I got caught up in the boom and bust in 2006-2007, lost all my houses, foreclosure, the whole nine yards… The movie The Short – did you ever see the movie The Short? That was my life. I’ve lived that world, because I was in central Florida… And then here I am in Austin, Texas. I now run four online companies and also invest for myself. I have a podcast as well, and just on and on it goes. I’m a full-time online information publishing author with real estate investing.

Joe Fairless: You said something interesting before we started recording, that every real estate investor should have an education piece they are building, and I’d like for you to talk about that because I mentioned when you said that that this has potential to be a polarizing topic, because there’s a lot of anti-guru people, and you should invest and learn from your mistakes and not pay people or pay for content, and then other people say that you should…

First, the statement of “Every real estate investor should have an education piece they are building” that you said earlier – can you elaborate on that?

Heather Havenwood: Yes. It sounds like you like to go truth, so I’m gonna be a little honest here. It’s like politics, there’s the good part of the politics and there’s the dirty side of politics. Just the same here in what I call the education side of real estate. There’s a lot of good that happens, and there’s the dirty side, and I’ve seen both, and I’ve been around both. There’s definitely a negative conversation out there about the guru side, and some people that only know how to teach and they don’t know how to do… There’s a lot there, and some of it is true and some of it is not, but here’s what I say to anybody who’s done more than 10 or 15 houses themselves; they’ve done something in the real estate market, whatever that is… I think that they all should teach what they have learned through their mistakes. It’s actually through the helping other people, it’s also through the teaching that piece, also sharing their story that 1) they’re gonna get more business, 2) they’re going to help other people, and 3) there’s a cashflow there.

That is why a lot of the real estate investors get into the education conversation – because they wanna buy more property and it’s a great cash maker to create cash to buy more property. Why are you getting mad then about that, right? Because think about it – I’m doing real estate, I wanna buy more real estate, I educate people about what I’m doing, I make money from that and I buy more real estate. I don’t think that’s awkward, I think that’s actually very smart in a capitalist world, which I’m a capitalist.

So if you look at it that way, then you can see how there’s a logic to that. What happens when I go to REA meetings or I meet what I call “old-school” real estate investors – they have this kind of arrogance about “Well, I just sit in the background and no one knows who I am. I just do my thing.” I’m like, “I can see that, I guess that’s respectable, but why wouldn’t you help other people? Why would you not do a small workshop locally, or why don’t you get on a podcast and share your story about how you got started and all the mistakes that you made? Why not help other people through that process?” Because I feel like real estate investing specifically – not realtor – is kind of the secret little society sometimes; even though people are out there constantly teaching it, it’s still this secret little society that people think is hard to get into, or they don’t know how, or it’s confusing. It’s not something you get taught in the university.

So this is why, Joe, I think every real estate investor that’s had some success and some failure should be out there helping the people and teaching and sharing their story.

Joe Fairless: I agree, you made some really great points. When we do share our story, we help other people, we get more business, and if we monetize that – like this podcast, for example, where I have monetized it by bringing advertising sponsors – then there’s potential to make money. And along they way I would imagine that the Best Ever listeners who are listening to this episode, they are getting a lot of value from this platform, which to them is free to consume the content. So I agree… There’s different approaches out there, but I agree with your thoughts and I’m glad you shared it. Point by point, that was really interesting. What type of platform do you have?

Heather Havenwood: I do a lot of podcasting actually, I was gonna share that. A couple of years ago I started a podcast, and it’s what I call “in the graveyard of iTunes.” Feel free to go check it out, it’s called “Sexy Boss” and it’s in what I call the graveyard of iTunes because I did four interviews, I put them all up online the same day. I didn’t know what I was doing… [laughs] And then I was like, “Where is the audience?” I didn’t know what I was doing. So I took on the role of “You know what? I’m gonna first add value. I’m gonna go on other people’s shows and I’m going to add value and share my story.”

Number one, I had to learn to share my story. People don’t wanna hear your resume, they wanna hear your story, it’s very different. Number two, I had to learn “What am I gonna add value to them? How can I add value to your show?” because at the end of the day, Joe, this is your show. This is your audience, and I’m here as a guest. So I had to really look at “How am I gonna add value?” I focused on that for a year and a half, and up until this point when you and I are talking, I’ve been on over 210 shows as a guest. What did I learn from that? I learned a couple things – I learned what it takes to be a really great host, I also learned how to really launch a really great podcast, so back in June I launched my first show, and it’s exploded, and I’m now on three networks, and it’s been amazing, in less than a six months timeframe… Because I learned first how to give value, and then I went and launched it.

It’s the same conversation with real estate investors. I think even if you’ve only had 10 houses or 2 houses or one apartment building, whatever it is, being out there on podcasts – because it’s a “free medium” at this moment – being out there and sharing your story helps other people. Because people don’t wanna hear your “When I was ten I did this, and when I was 20 I did that…” – no one cares. They wanna know how you got to where you are today and where is the success story, and where is the failure. So I talk about my book Sexy Boss because that book is about my biggest failures in life.

The movie The Short that came out, I literally lived that movie. No kidding. I remember watching the movie and going “Oh, I remember that, and I remember that…” I remember being in Florida and all the houses in the entire four, five blocks was completely for sale. I lived that life, so how am I gonna take that failure and make it a success?

I remember, Joe, at a very important time when that happened – it was 2007. This is about six months after I learned this is happening, my houses are going down, my bankruptcy is going down, and I really had to look at that. And a dear friend of mine who was a multi-million dollar investor (very successful guy), we were just having a chat, he was kind of coaching me, and he said to me in a not so loving way, because he’s not that kind of guy, he said “Grab a pen and grab a piece of paper, and I want you to write everything I say.” He told me to write this as he says it: “I, Heather, give myself full permission to fail”, and I couldn’t even write it. I was like, “NO!” I was literally in tears, and he looked at me and he goes “You’re never gonna succeed in life again until you give yourself full permission to fail.”

And the challenge with what I call the real estate gurus out there is they show success after success after success after success, and I know with real estate investors that the real ones are failure-failure-failure-success-failure-failure-failure-success-success-failure. That’s a reality, and I think that that’s the challenge people have with the “guru-ism”, and that’s why I think they should all be out there teaching themselves, so they know what it’s like to share their failures, to share their successes with people. It makes a difference.

Joe Fairless: It does make a difference, and it’s almost an obligation that we all have. It’s less about an opt-in, but it’s more about an obligation if we’re gonna be part of the real estate community – and it is a community; at least the Best Ever listeners have a community within this show… And it is almost an obligation where we need to share not only our success stories to inspire, but also the failures that we have.

I actually have a presentation I make at different conferences when I speak, and it is “Top 10 mistakes I’ve made in multifamily syndication”, and they could be more, but they only give me like 45 minutes to talk, so I condense it in these top 10 things. It’s important, because there’s a lot of ways to learn from the mistakes and the failures, more so sometimes than the success. I’m glad that you mentioned that, and I completely agree with your approach and your mentality.

I do want to ask, with your investments now that you do, knowing that you were in Florida and the sky crashed on you and you went through bankruptcy, what do you do now differently that you weren’t doing…?

Heather Havenwood: Way more conservative.

Joe Fairless: Specifically how?

Heather Havenwood: I don’t play the game of “Oh, it’s been going up 25% every year, year after year, so it’s gonna continue.” I like bread and butter, I like boring homes, and what I mean by that is just a place where the home is 60k, 70, 80k, really basic, and it’s a working class area; people live there and they get settled there and they don’t move.

I also have a philosophy, and this is from a friend of mine who was a major real estate investor in Arizona – he still is today – he said, “You’re not a tree, you can move.” So just because you live in California or just because you live in New York doesn’t mean you have to invest there. Go invest that makes sense for you. I’m also with long-term play; I do wholesaling, and I do holding. I look at it more long-term.

When I was in the real estate industry back then, it was a lot of get-rich-quick; buy these spec houses, hold them for two years, sell them for 50% higher. Or buy a million dollar property. A lot of flash. And the people that did survive without throwing away all their housing — I knew friends of mine who literally had 12 houses in foreclosure. They were just walking to the bank like “Here’s your 12 keys, see you later.” It just happened.

The ones that survived all that were the ones that went slow and methodical, and didn’t try to be flashy. And if you look at our current president today, who is a real estate investor, he did the same thing, believe it or not. Don’t get me wrong, he went big, but he went methodically, and he thought it through, and it was always a long-term play.

Joe Fairless: With your properties, your buy and holds, what type of financing do you do?

Heather Havenwood: If I buy and hold, I’m doing a deed; I buy on the deed. I just take over payments.

Joe Fairless: You just take over payments, okay.

Heather Havenwood: No money down, take over payments.

Joe Fairless: And that’s probably because of the bankruptcy thing, it’s tough to get a loan?

Heather Havenwood: No, I don’t wanna put any money down.

Joe Fairless: Can you tell us the numbers on the last deal you did like that?

Heather Havenwood: The house was worth 60k, they owed 30-35k, I just took over payments, and then I just got a renter in there; it’s not anything more complicated than that. It’s bread and butter, it’s kind of boring. [laughs]

Joe Fairless: House was worth 60k, they owed, say, 35k, and you are taking over the mortgage payments, and then they exit.

Heather Havenwood: Correct.

Joe Fairless: Why would they do that?

Heather Havenwood: Because they are in financial constraint, they can’t afford it anymore. That was what I was told by Ron LeGrand back in 2002. You just take over their payments.

Joe Fairless: How do you find them, and then walk us through that conversation with the person who has $25,000 worth of equity in their house that they just let you take over their payments.

Heather Havenwood: I do bandit signs, they called on it, talked a little bit over the phone, asked a couple questions, see what their situation was, what they needed… They needed a little cash to move out, so I gave them a little cash to move out. They just didn’t wanna wait for putting the house on the market and just waiting. Not every property is gonna end like that. It’s a specific kind of property, a specific kind of person that’s ready to say, “I need to walk away.” They knew that it cost me a little work, so I had to put money in and do a little work, and then rehab it. That’s pretty much the numbers.

Joe Fairless: How much cash did you give them to move out?

Heather Havenwood: $1,000.

Joe Fairless: And how much did it cost to get that work done?

Heather Havenwood: $1,000 paint, little carpet, just kind of spruce it up, clean it up… Nothing major.

Joe Fairless: Your phone rings, it’s this individual who saw your bandit sign… Walk us through that conversation.

Heather Havenwood: One of the things about real estate investors is they forget there’s a human being who has the other side of the fence. Why did they go with me versus others, why do they call me versus others, why did they say yes? Because I cared. I cared about them. I didn’t just go, “Okay, what’s your numbers? What’s your numbers?! You’re just a person, I need your numbers!” I’m like, “What’s going on in your world, what’s happening? Why are you not waiting to get the equity? What do you really need?” They share their life, what’s going on in their world, health issues and all this kind of drama. I just gave them an offer and I was like “Can this help if I give you cash now and take over the payments and move in 30-60 days? What works for you? How can I help you in your life, so that you can get on your own two feet and move forward?” It’s not always about just taking over a property for greed… And I think people can feel that, because I just really cared about them, and they were afraid that they’d started making the payments, that it was gonna go into foreclosure… They didn’t want that on their credit, so now they don’t have that on their credit. They’ll be able to walk away…

You look at it like “Oh, they’re walking away from $20,000 equity! Oh my god, it’s crazy!” Not really when you’re sometimes in the situation where you’re like “I need to be able to be free of this, and I need to be able to take a little cash and start over.” If you look at it from a humanistic/humanity perspective, sometimes it’s just really helping somebody out, versus just taking over a property.

Joe Fairless: Do you go visit the property before you talk numbers with them?

Heather Havenwood: Sometimes I do… I’d like to, I’d prefer, but it doesn’t always work out, because you’ve gotta close the deal. I also know people are out there marketing to them all the time. Now, if they’re not in foreclosure, they’re not getting the marketing, but if they called me, they called other people, so I have to really keep that in mind. It’s like in any kind of sales situation, you don’t wanna let them off the hook, right? You really wanna build that relationship as fast as possible and really connect with them on a heart-to-heart level. I know it sounds like not what they teach you in real estate school, but that’s what really people want to do business with. They wanna actually act like someone cares.

Joe Fairless: What paperwork is involved when you do that transfer?

Heather Havenwood: I don’t really share my paperwork… Just a 2-3 page deal we go through, and it’s a deed. It’s a deed transfer.

Joe Fairless: Just simple stuff.

Heather Havenwood: Yeah, it’s simple stuff. I know it’s not very sexy, but I really think after being at over 450 events – that’s a lot of hours of listening to a ton of real estate investors (some of them are no longer around, some are dead broke), I learned that real estate investing can be extremely sexy, but the winners are just consistent and keep it really simple.

Joe Fairless: You have a skill for marketing and branding… As I mentioned earlier, you were named top 50 must-follow women entrepreneurs in 2017 by Huffington Post. For someone who wants that type of designation, how do you recommend they go about obtaining it?

Heather Havenwood: That’s a weird question, I don’t know how to answer that. I didn’t wake up one day and said, “I wanna be known from Huffington Post.” One day someone told me I was… So I don’t even know how to answer that. I think honestly this industry is not about ego. If you go into it for “I wanna be known for… I wanna be known, I wanna be the best, I want everyone to see me and look at me” – that’s very ego-driven and you’re not gonna go anywhere. Believe me, I’ve seen a lot of people come and go in this industry, and the ones that are ego-centric didn’t last that long. The ones that were value-centric and add value to the marketplace and add value to the people and help people and teach people, they’re still around; they’re the ones [unintelligible [00:19:28].16] that are actually still filling up a room and being on great stages, they’re the ones actually helping people.

But I definitely don’t go out there and go “One day you’re gonna see me.” I just went out and started helping people and focused on supporting people and helping people and adding value as much as I possibly can, and I was acknowledged, I guess, for that.

Joe Fairless: Heather, based on your experience as a real estate investor, what is your best real estate investing advice ever?

Heather Havenwood: It’s a question that was actually given to me, that someone asked me to ask myself, and that question is “Does this feed my confusion, my strength and my clarity?” I think with real estate investment we get attached to the deal, versus actually looking at “Does this deal, does the situation, does this relationship feed my confusion, my strength and my clarity?” and sometimes we get so attached to the deal (we’ve gotta make it work!!) that we’re trying to force it, versus really look at “Does it really add clarity or add confusion to the situation?”

One thing I learned – you can’t be attached to a deal. We get attached to the deal if we get attached to people; it’s not a person, it’s actually just a deal. It works, it doesn’t work, it may work, it might not work… And you focus on winning in life and winning, but you don’t put so much attachment to who you are, your identity to the deal.

Joe Fairless: Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning round?

Heather Havenwood: Sure!

Joe Fairless: Alright, first a quick word from our Best Ever partners.

Break: [00:20:49].15] to [00:21:38].10]

Joe Fairless: Best ever book you’ve read?

Heather Havenwood: Best ever book I read… Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and The 48 Laws of Power.

Joe Fairless: Oh, I love The 48 Laws of Power. Best ever deal you’ve done?

Heather Havenwood: My own short sell to my own property back in 2006. [laughs]

Joe Fairless: Why is that the best ever deal?

Heather Havenwood: Because I called three of the banks, and I finally just said “I’m gonna short sell my own deal. Give me the number that I know I need”, and he gave it to me and I pretty much did the whole deal, so it was kind of interesting. It’s not normal you actually do a short sell for your own property that you own, so it was just an interesting deal.

Joe Fairless: What’s the best ever way you like to give back?

Heather Havenwood: Helping other people and sharing my stories and sharing my failures. I this that’s something that’s overlooked in today’s society’ we’re taught at a young age, when you’re in second grade, “If you fail, you don’t go to third grade”, and I think a lot of young people today, they’re all focused on winning, winning, winning only, and it’s only when you give yourself full permission to fail that you give yourself full permission to succeed. And when you share your failures, that’s when you can share your successes.

Joe Fairless: Thinking back on some deals you’ve done – and it’s something that you haven’t mentioned already – what’s a tactical mistake you’ve made on a deal?

Heather Havenwood: I tried to play the market “Oh, look, the market’s going up 25% every single year! I’ll play that game and buy the property, and in one year I’ll just sell it for 25%!” It’s probably the worst game you can ever play in real estate… Hoping that the market’s gonna go up. It’s very much a gamble. It might work, but it’s not the best play. I did that and it didn’t work.

Joe Fairless: At closing, for all future properties, do they cash-flow for you?

Heather Havenwood: No, not all of them, and not always, because things change. Property taxes sometimes change, things change, but I try to make them all cash-flow… That’s why I look at more of a long-term strategy.

Joe Fairless: What’s the best place the Best Ever listeners can get in touch with you?

Heather Havenwood:

Joe Fairless: Well, Heather, I enjoyed our conversation. Thank you for being on the show, talking about how in the earlier years things didn’t happen as you planned with the crash, nor did it happen as most people planned for the market crash, and how your mentor said for your to write down the phrase “I, Heather Havenwood, give myself permission to fail”, and then how you’ve used that as the way that allows you to give yourself permission to succeed, as you’ve mentioned earlier. And then, if you have done something, you should teach what you have learned and teach the mistakes that you learned along the way. It’s almost an obligation that we all have, and we also benefit from it, because we could make money from that, but more importantly, we’re helping people and we’re helping our business because we’re getting the word out about what we’re doing within a very relevant group of people, and I think that’s really the key, which leads to the business and leads to more cash flow. And then your approach for taking over payments in the case study that we’ve talked about, and being value-centric not ego-centric.

Thanks so much for being on the show! I hope you have a best ever day, Heather, and we’ll talk to you soon!

Heather Havenwood: Thanks, Joe.

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