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 discuss a wide range of game-changing practices that can help entrepreneurs to be more successful. The hosts share their Best Ever advice on morning routines, accountability, productivity, goals, mentoring, coaches, and more.
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Ash Patel: Hello, Best Ever listeners. Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I'm Ash Patel, and I'm joined today by Travis Watts and Slocomb Reed. Travis and Slocomb are fellow co-hosts for the Best Ever Podcast. This is our weekly roundtable where we pick a topic and share our discussions with all of you.
On today's episode we're going to be discussing morning routines, accountability, productivity goals, journaling, coaches... Just overall things that can help us be more successful. And I'm going to start with Travis. Travis, you're very disciplined... Tell the Best Ever listeners a little bit about you, and tell us if you have any morning routines.
Travis Watts: Yeah. Hi everybody. Travis watts, full-time passive investor and director of investor education with Joe Fairless at Ashcroft Capital. This is a great topic, and I've always been intrigued by morning routines, reading about successful entrepreneurs, CEOs... I've tried a lot of different things. And my wife too is very open to that experimenting as well. So I can tell you, we've probably done, I don't know, 40 or 50 different things, and the only two that have really ever stuck for me personally has been number one, celery juice, which I made a podcast on a long time ago... It's the weirdest thing, but it's been a replacement for coffee, for the most part... For me anyway. I'm not a doctor, I'm not saying this'll work for anyone else... But it gives me a lot of energy; it makes you poop, that's a good one... It helps your skin, helps reduce belly fat, stuff like that. And it's pretty easy to do. It's just literally having a juicer, literally putting celery stalks in it, and drinking at least 16 ounces on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning. So that's what I've been doing now for several years. So that's one thing.
And the other is just taking five minutes minimum for yourself... Because I used to be the guy who my eyes would open, I'd roll over and grab my phone, and I'd start doing emails, and I would just get right into it. And then before you know it, two hours went by, you skipped breakfast... It was just a terrible routine; I would feel sluggish all day... It was bad. So taking five minutes to kind of organize your day, maybe meditate, just breathe, have your cup of coffee, whatever it is for you, I think it's valuable to kind of level your brain out and get it prepared for the day. So those are the only two things that I do consistently.
Ash Patel: I love it. Travis, do you mix that with water? Or does celery have that much liquid in it to where you can get 16 ounces?
Travis Watts: Nope, gotta drink it straight. So you don't want to mix it with water. You don't want to have a coffee and that, and you don't want to have food before - I think it's 30 minutes after that. So it's just straight, raw... I mean, we just get organic celery stalk, and just put it right through the juicer. So one stalk will give you most of that 16 ounces. It's pretty cheap, too.
Ash Patel: Awesome. Yeah, and I know Joe Fairless has been doing wheatgrass drinks in the morning for as long as I've known him. Slocomb, any morning routines?
Slocomb Reed: Yes, a couple of things that I'll point out here . Again, Slocomb Reed, apartment owner-operator in Cincinnati, Ohio. A few things that I'll point out about my morning routine; in my house, I am the morning person... So I'm getting up before everyone else. I like to have -- not what a morning routine guru would tell you is "me time", but just a little time to myself before my kids wake up.
The four things that I'll point out are I have water on my bedside table, so that I can drink water as soon as I wake up. That helps a lot. The other two things on my bedside table are my phone and my air pods. I don't dive straight into emails, but I do dive straight into podcasts. And I think the reason is - again, I'm not an expert here... But as soon as I have that sort of auditory engagement, and I feel like someone is talking to me, or I have something to listen to, my brain engages faster, and I can get through the news in a quick podcast. I listen to our podcast first thing in the morning as well...
And the other two things are black coffee and water in the morning. I'm not a big breakfast person anymore. Just like the things I need to get woken up and get into the day. I usually don't end up eating until later in the morning. And the fourth is, I've gotta have a shower first thing in the morning. If I don't shower in the morning, I just feel sluggish all day. And it's not necessarily just a question of feeling clean; my brain is foggier all day if I don't get a shower in the morning. And I don't know if it's just about having the ritual, or if it's something about the hot water... It is a hot shower, not a cold shower. But those are the four things - the water, the podcasts, the black coffee and water, and the shower. Those are the four things I need in the morning.
Ash Patel: I love it. I'm going to try to implement the podcast. I like that. Great way to start your day. I have a feeling if we're keeping score today, I'm going to lose. So with morning routines, I've got friends that - they'll meditate, they'll go to the gym, they'll journal, they will do all these crazy things... And I heard Marc Andreessen recently on a podcast where he was asked, "What's your morning routine?" and he's like, "Look, these guys that do these crazy morning routines - that's two, three hours sometimes. Like, I'm out there working. So I don't have time for a morning routine."
I'm not a morning person, man. I'll do black coffee. What I've been trying to do is water first, and instead of going to my office, go to the gym. And black coffee as well - try not to eat for as long as I can in the day. So I don't have a good morning routine. But I am gonna start listening to podcasts. But what I don't do is I don't get on my phone. I don't get on social media. If anything, I'll get on, briefly check the stock futures, any news... But even that, I try to delay that. Productivity tips for the day. Anything that's worked well for you, Slocomb?
Slocomb Reed: For me, it's just about getting into it. Again, I'm not diving straight into work-type things, or places where I need to be productive first thing. I also have a toddler at home, and I enjoy being a father and a husband. So one thing that's been a big focus for me since my daughter was born three and a half years ago now is learning how to just be a nine-to-fiver, and treat everything I do in real estate like it's almost just a day job hours-wise. Putting those limits on myself, trying to be home when I am home has given me some more of the urge, the impetus to be more productive while I'm at work.
I am at my standing desk right now. I've learned that standing allows me to fidget more, it's better for my ADHD... I also stay more focused on the task at hand when I'm standing, and it's better for not feeling sluggish, not feeling like I need to take a nap after I take lunch when I'm standing... Those kinds of things.
Ash Patel: Awesome. Travis, any thoughts, tips on productivity?
Travis Watts: Sure, yeah. I'm a big fan, and there's been a lot of books and podcasts and talks about this... But to -- after your little five minutes to yourself at least, or exercise or whatever your morning routine is, to get right into the hardest thing of the day. Because for me anyway, if I start fiddling with the small stuff, to your point, Ash, I get on social media, I do a couple emails this, that and the other - you're using up your glycogen. I think I'm saying that right; not a doctor, I don't know... But we only have so much basically energy and mental power in a given day. So by the afternoon, if you finally get around to doing the hard thing, it feels overwhelming, and you don't have enough oomph to really get through that.
So like we're doing right now with these podcasts. These are an important part of my day, so we're shooting this early in the morning. If we were to do this at 6pm, this would be a terrible podcast, at least on my behalf. And it's why you see people like Mark Zuckerberg, or Steve Jobs, or some of these high-performing entrepreneurs wear the same shirt every day. Like, he's notorious for wearing that gray shirt. It's to limit the decision-making early in the day on the small stuff, so he can bring that energy and brainpower into the office to do the bigger decisions. So that's been a real helpful one for me.
Ash Patel: Thank you. For me, it's just been trying to implement systems, working with a team versus myself, hiring an operations manager, and really just getting help, and people that help me with my productivity... Because I did not do a good job of increasing productivity myself. However, I did hire a coach a while back - and I've hired a number of coaches... And I was very skeptical about coaches. I used to give people a hard time for paying six figures a year for coaching. And I realized a lot of high-performers around me all have coaches, whether it's a mindset coach, or a business coach... And I didn't realize how much of a help that is. It's almost like a therapist. You go there, you talk and "Oh my god..." You just have these epiphanies. Travis, have you done any work with coaches?
Travis Watts: That's a good question. I would say a lot of people do a coaching program, or find mentors, or to your point, have to go to the gym every day by discipline to get the results they're looking for... I've been pretty self-disciplined, so sometimes I'll pull my wife in to hold me accountable on whatever it is that I feel like maybe I couldn't do on my own. But to answer your question, not really. But I did want to share this with the audience... I'm reading a book right now called Atomic Habits, and this has been really good for accountability. So it's an easy way to break down negative habits and how to change them, or how to enforce positive habits.
Basically, what he says in the book is there's three stages here. You have to recognize the cue that leads to the habit. So why is it that you want to do that particular thing, what's prompting you to want to do it. And then if you're trying to remove the negative habit, you want to make it as difficult as possible to be able to actually have that outcome or achieve it. And then last, you want to tie in a negative association to it. So I'll use an example - if you drink too much alcohol at night, or something like that. So you'll want to start by recognizing what prompted that; is that every time you sit down and turn on the football game that prompts you to want to go to the fridge and grab a beer? I don't know. Or maybe it's you drink every time I post-dinner, and that's just kind of like your routine or habit. So the thing you do to make that more difficult - what about just removing alcohol from your house? That'd be pretty difficult to do. Now you've got to get in the car, run to the store, go buy something... It's very inconvenient.
And then to tie the negative association to it, you'd say -- whatever, "It's adding to my belly fat", or "It's hurting my body, or my health." So it kind of kills the desire to want that.
So the opposite is true for forming a new habit, something that you haven't been able to achieve, things like what we're talking about. So you would create a cue that would prompt you to want to do the good habits. So let's say you set an alarm on your phone 15 minutes after you wake up, and what that alarm stands for is time to go exercise, right? Then you want to make it convenient. Instead of saying, "Well, I've got to get in the car and go to the gym", maybe it's just "Well, I've got to do 50 push ups, and 100 sit ups, and 100 jumping jacks every day." And the cool thing about that is, it's convenient, because you can do it at home, you can do it in any room, you can do it while you travel... So it's very sustainable in that way. And then you want to tie the positive association to it. So maybe it's "I can't eat breakfast, or I can't have lunch until after I exercise." So then you're rewarding your body with something that you really want and enjoy, but not if you don't do the hard thing first. So anyway, just a thought I wanted to share that was a recent thing I was reading in a book.
Ash Patel: Yeah, Travis, great tips. Slocomb, have you worked with any coaches?
Slocomb Reed: I did, once. It was a performance coach. Two mixed results. I did have some of those epiphanies. I did also feel like I was being pushed in the wrong direction to make some decisions within my business. A high-performance coach is ideally intended to reflect you back on yourself and give you the ability to be more introspective with the perspective of an expert. And I did have some of those breakthroughs, some of those a-ha moments with my performance coach. But I also realized towards the end of my coaching period that either I was receiving the wrong advice, or the way that the coach was leading the conversation was leading me in a direction that was not leading to the growth in my company that I needed. I felt like I was being prompted to give the wrong answers. So I did have a lot of those a-has. I did end my performance coaching though when I started feeling like I was being taken in the wrong direction.
Ash Patel: Yeah, great perspective. Thanks for sharing that.
Break: [00:13:45.03] to
Ash Patel: I had a mindset coach, and then I had a business coach. And for me, the business coach was much more beneficial. They would dive into numbers and logistics, and to-do's, and help with decision-making. So that was very beneficial. Accountability. Travis, you mentioned you and your wife kind of hold each other accountable... I've got a buddy of mine whose wife has been a personal trainer for 20+ years, and this dude is probably one of the most out of shape people I've ever met. And his wife does not hold him accountable. It just doesn't work. I think I've tried that with my wife, holding me accountable... And man, she's the most forgiving person ever, so that has zero effect on me. Apparently, it works for you. And is that the only person you've done accountability with?
Travis Watts: Yeah, and it's not to say that I use her to hold me accountable on all things. Obviously, she's doing her thing, and goes to work, and then I'm working from home... So it's tough to do on everything, right? And I generally don't need it at all, but I don't know, let's just say it's a morning thing or an evening thing where we're together... I'll just ask her and say, "Look, I'm trying to cut down on --" whatever it is; having dessert. I want to stop eating the unnecessary desserts crap that we have. So she helps hold me accountable by a) not buying it. And two, if I have it, giving me crap about it, and making me feel bad about it. And I ask her to do that. It's not like she would do that otherwise, right? So it does work for me. But you've got to do you, like I always say.
Ash Patel: Slocomb, how about you? Have you had any accountability groups or worked with anybody? Or how do you hold yourself accountable?
Slocomb Reed: I end up doing a lot of that personally. I will say here some failed attempts... It doesn't work with my wife, either. That's not a dynamic of our relationship. And I have at times tried to impose maybe too strong a word, but imposed that sort of accountability relationship on my friendship relationships within real estate investing, and that really hasn't worked either. It seems to me like an accountability relationship is something that needs to be entered into with more intention than a friendship; not necessarily more intention than a marriage, but that may not be what you need to be for your spouse, or what your spouse needs to be for you. I will be entering into a phase professionally here soon where I'll be looking for those kinds of accountability groups.
Ash Patel: Yeah, it's a struggle for me as well. I'll just share what we've done. In my mastermind, we had somebody start a subgroup that was an accountability group. And apparently, they've done very well at it. I had no desire to join; I did not want anybody holding me accountable. However, I've got two business partners now, and we started an accountability group where every Tuesday morning we have a meeting, and we discuss, "Are you contributing towards your goals? Are you accomplishing what you said you're going to be accountable for?" And just the fact that knowing I've got to answer to these people - and maybe it's the dynamics of them. They're both family friends, but we're business partners. And I don't want to disappoint them. Because I rely on them for a lot. They rely on me for a lot. And just knowing that I've got to answer every week to them has helped marginally. So it's a step in the right direction.
We are going to be joining a larger accountability group within, again, the mastermind... And I'm hoping -- if you have to go in front of a roomful of people and say, "Yeah, another week, didn't do it", I'm hoping the pain will kind of motivate me to get some things done. So thank you guys for sharing that. Journaling, or tracking progress. Slocomb, have you gone into that at all?
Slocomb Reed: Journaling, I have not. Tracking progress, yes. That is something that now that my teams operationally, when it comes to like property management and renovations, now that my teams are big enough that I'm not doing everything and I'm not overseeing everything directly myself, those are conversations that we have within my companies on a weekly basis. I need the numbers. I need the stats on everything on a weekly basis.
Personally, I tend to track my own personal progress financially more on a quarterly basis. A simple spreadsheet; I know, Ash, you're a fan of Excel. Nothing that's more sophisticated than that; taking snapshots of the things that I measure for myself financially once a quarter to see how things have moved.
Ash Patel: Awesome. For me, I started tracking meals, everything that I eat. And when I first started - man, it was bad. I wouldn't change any of my habits, but I would write it down, and then when you look at it, it's like, "Damn, that really happened?" And just the mere fact that I know I've got to write things down now has improved habits a little bit.
In terms of financial tracking, the one metric I encourage everybody to do and track is your net worth at the end of every year, or at some point throughout the year; get your personal financial statement in order, write down all of your liabilities, your assets, come up with a net worth number. And that's a number that doesn't lie. So every year -- you can track number of doors, you can track all these other metrics, but the one number that never lies is your net worth. So that's my thoughts on tracking. Travis, how about you?
Travis Watts: Yeah, great topics, both of you. And by the way, a few episodes ago I threw it out there that I would share my income, expenses, assets, liabilities, net worth, it's got historical wages... There's a lot of cool data; I've been building that out since high school, and every year I tweak it a little bit to make a little better. It's got some simple formulas and calculators in there. So if anyone wants it, just DM me on social media. I got literally over 25-30 people reach out for that sheet. Ash, I know you did as well, so always happy to share that with you guys, if that's a resource or tool that can help you.
So I track finances... I track cash flow monthly; I do overall, my financial sheet updates every single quarter. I haven't done journaling. Always kind of poo-pooed that, but I know that there's a lot of benefit to it. And in fact, the book I just mentioned a few minutes ago, Atomic Habits, is about journaling. And I've also taken a much deeper dive into stoicism study, and there's a lot of journaling in there as well. So it is something I am going to try. I actually just bought one, it's laying on the counter in there... So I will start and just give it a shot. I don't want to poo-poo just to be a poo-poo...
Ash Patel: Hey, we'll revisit this in six months and let's see what kind of progress we've made. The last topic I want to discuss with you guys is moving targets when it comes to financial freedom and time freedom. You know, it's easy to come up with a number... "Okay, I'm gonna leave my job when I hit this in passive income", or "When I hit this in liquidity or net worth." And then it becomes easy to move that target. "Well, I wanted $20,000 in passive income And I decided I was going to quit my job.. I really need 30K." Then it's 40k, and 50k... Or whether it's retiring. Travis, your thoughts on moving targets for important goals, especially time freedom and financial freedom?
Travis Watts: Yeah, great point. Time freedom is one of my passion points. And I'm more tied to the concept of building financial freedom, helping others do that as well, more so than I am to even real estate in itself. At its core, that's really what the mission is about, and I say this all the time... If for whatever reason, one day real estate quit making sense by the numbers, but something else did that paid out monthly cash flow, that's where I'm going to pivot and go over there, and I'm going to start doing that.
So to me, time freedom - to your point, Ash - it's how to free up your time using passive income, ideally paid on a monthly basis, so that you can in turn start to pursue things that you enjoy most in life: time with family, time off, travel, being more charitable... Or like in my case, I give a lot of my time back to other people, trying to help them on their journey. So we're all different.
So how that looks and practicality is you say, "Okay, I need $100,000 a year to pay the bills. What's that look like?" Okay, well, if you're passive income-focused, you could say 1.2 5 million invested at 8% annualized as $100,000. Or in Ash's case, he would scoff at my 8% annualized return; he'd say, $625,000 at 16%. There's your 100k. Or maybe Slocomb, you would want 1.5 million invested at 12% to give you 180k. But you get the point; you can run your own math, you can run your own numbers...
Two things I would caution people on - your goals will change, and the numbers will change, and the economy will change, so just accept that upfront, that's going to be a fact. But don't let that deter you from just getting started with at least an initial goal, whether that's a one-year goal, five-year, or 10-year... And the longer you go out, the more susceptible to change it's going to be. You could easily set a one-year goal and achieve it, but if you say "Hey, when I'm 60, I'm going to be this, that or the other", it's probably not going to be like that.
And then last thing, you can use the rule of 72 to approximate how long it's going to take to double your portfolio. So if you want a million dollars to go invest, but you only have 500k to get started, but something you're looking at pays 10% a year cash flow or passive income, then you take 72, divide by 10, that's 10% a year, equals 7.2. That means in 7.2 years - and of course, we're not factoring taxes or anything else, and assuming that's consistent long-term - then 7.2 years later you turn 500k into a million. So you can kind of run numbers that way. So I crunch a lot of numbers, but just know that they are going to change; you have a family, and life happens.
Ash Patel: Thank you for sharing that, Travis. Slocomb, your thoughts on moving targets for financial freedom or time freedom.
Slocomb Reed: Absolutely. Let me start by saying this... On the DISC profile, for our listeners who are familiar, I am an S. Measuring your metrics, tracking your metrics are important, but I am simply not motivated by numbers. When it comes to moving targets, and when it comes to life goals, big picture goals in general, I rely on something I learned in college from Hinduism actually called the allegory of the mountain. All people are on a life journey, and the goal of that journey is to reach the top of the mountain. We're not necessarily talking about Nirvana here; we're talking about financial freedom, time freedom, the lifestyle that we are working towards, that we are journeying towards... And if you imagine that the lifestyle that you want is the top of the mountain... This also relates to me because I spent a lot of time hiking in the Appalachian Mountains, on the Appalachian Trail growing up. If you visualize it, the top of the mountain, and you look at the opportunities in front of you, ask yourself, "Am I getting closer to the mountaintop, or am I getting farther back if I take this opportunity, or if I make this shift?"
In changing times, with the economy, with things like the COVID 19 pandemic, how is it that I can adapt to changing circumstances, changing weather, to make sure that I am continuing to climb towards the top of the mountain? And if I have to face a setback, or if I see an opportunity that in the short term looks like a setback, is it something that puts me on a path that leads me up the mountain faster?
So very simply, thinking about it in this sort of more [unintelligible 00:27:32.10] sense of putting the goal at the top of the mountain - time freedom, financial freedom, the ability to be the husband and father that I want to be, while also knowing that our finances are growing the way that I want them to grow... Thinking about it more [unintelligible 00:27:45.28] allows me to adapt much better. I'm not good at number goals. I'm also not tied to them, so long as I'm getting what I want from life and from my lifestyle.
Ash Patel: Yeah, thank you for sharing that, Slocomb. I knew I was going to score the least today... So financial goals - I've hit the financial goals that I've set a long time ago, and my time goals is a struggle. It seems like every summer I say "Okay, I'm not going to do any deals. I'm going to try to spend more time with my kids", and entrepreneurs at heart are just deal junkies. So if you're an entrepreneur - a lot of us real estate people are - you're always going to be enamored and you're always going to chase the new deals, and try to make something happen out of them. So as much as I want to pull back and have more free time, I keep just doing more and more deals and getting sucked into different things... So it's a struggle, moving target, and that's why I brought that up.
But gentlemen, I've gotta thank you both for sharing a lot of wisdom today, a lot of your own experiences. Best Ever listeners, I hope you got a lot out of this, and just know that everybody kind of struggles with certain aspects of their life, whether it's a morning routine, journaling, diet, moving targets... But we hope you enjoyed this episode. And if you did, please consider leaving us a five star review. Share the podcast with somebody you think can benefit from it. Also, follow, subscribe and have a Best Ever day!
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