The late Jack Miller was one of my primary real estate investing teachers. He was a wonderful man and an incredible educator and mentor. It’s hard to believe that he went to heaven almost six years ago…not a day goes by that he and I don’t have a conversation in my head.
Jack was the type of guy who very much marched to his own drum. One of his best quotes was: Never take orders from paint.
Let me explain: Have you ever turned onto a street, seen the One Way sign and realized that you were going the wrong way? What did you do – an immediate U-turn, right? That’s what most of us would do. But not Jack! Jack would keep going the way he was going and say, “Never take orders from paint!”
Spend a minute thinking about this. Was Jack right or wrong? Now add this to the equation: Jack spent his whole life not taking orders from paint – both figuratively and literally – and he was a very successful businessman!
On the other hand, I spent most of my life doing exactly what was expected of me. I was very much a rule follower. Looking back, I wish I had spent more time blazing my own trail and not being so concerned with taking orders from others.
When I was 24, I met a real estate investor who owned fifteen single-family rental houses. I remember being puzzled because he was home during the week. Back then, most men left for work in the morning and got home in the evening; they were never home in the middle of the day during a workweek.
After several long talks with him, I decided to become a real estate investor. But listening to my folks and my boss, you’d think I had said that I wanted to shoot the Pope! They were none too pleased with me.
So did I pursue my dream? Nope. Instead, I kept my j-o-b!
At 27, I finally mustered enough courage to quit my job and become a real estate investor. Not knowing where to start, I got my realtor’s license. I mistakenly thought real estate school would teach me how to buy, sell and rent houses. No such luck! I mainly learned all the things that I was not allowed to do. It was so depressing!
After passing the test, I interviewed with a broker. He informed me that if I wanted to work for him, I’d have to do things his way, and his way had nothing to do with me being a real estate investor. Several other brokers told me the exact same thing.
Dejected, battered and beaten, I went back to my long-time-job of selling Electrolux vacuums door-to-door. It was the low point of my working life.
Then in 1995, Kim agreed to marry me, and changed my world. She loved the idea of owning rental property. Her parents had been landlords for years. By 1998, with a lot of help from Kim, I finally achieved my goal of becoming a full-time real estate investor – and I’ve never looked back!
What makes Kim so special? Talk about someone who refuses to take orders from paint! Kim will listen intently when someone tells her what she can’t do. She’ll smile and nod her head. Then she’ll go and do EXACTLY what she wanted to do in the first place! I’ve never met anyone like her. She’s such an amazing woman…and in many ways, she’s very much like Jack.
Many of you who read my column are curious about real estate investing. You know there’s something there, but you don’t know where to start. Neither did we, but slowly we learned. Here’s an important lesson: Don’t let others tell you that you can’t succeed at something you want to do. In other words, never take orders from paint!