Detaching from the Matrix…Small steps to big rewards
We are in a mess. We got this way because people forgot that the power brokers of the world treat life like a chess game, and we think of life like a daily or hourly experience.
After a discussion with someone on Twitter on how to live unconstrained, it seemed that every answer to how to live unconstrained was rebutted with a perception on why that person couldn’t do it. Let's talk about the mindset needed to become unconstrained, because it is impossible to learn this craft if your mind isn't open to it in the first place.
After a recent discussion with someone on Twitter, I tried to explain how simple it is to achieve financial sustainability. All I received back after offering this information were excuses... “But I can’t do that?” or “How can I get enough money to make a downpayment on a rental property?”. It seemed that every answer to how to live unconstrained was rebutted with a perception on why that person couldn’t do it. I was confused. I didn’t understand how to every solution offered, the recipient countered with some reason why they couldn’t do it. Then I realized why... They don’t have the mindset for this yet.
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I hate reading or listening to material that speaks in obscure forms about mindset because nothing there is tangible. But I have to constantly remind myself that many out there haven’t embraced having a positive attitude to achieving success. I know that sounds like some motivational speaker or Zig Ziglar book or something, but it is true. When I was first starting out in business, I embraced a lot of teachings by those speakers. I bought cassette tape audio courses (yes, it was that long ago) and read a lot of books. I was a sponge for that information. And it became firmly implanted in my brain that I CAN DO IT. That any obstacle is really minor if I have a positive mental attitude towards overcoming it. I reinforced that belief by actually doing it, so I validated the teachings.
I know that as I have gotten older, I probably don’t spend much time reading motivational works. I probably should. I can confess I’ve never read a Tony Robbins book. I don’t watch Gary Vanerchuck videos on YouTube. I respect what they are saying, but I’m past that. And probably because I’m past those teachings, I make flawed assumptions that others are too. Because I mean it is so obvious to me how to be financially independent and what is required to do it. But I seem to be speaking another language to many people.
Looking back, if I had the tools of today back in the 1980s when I did the bulk of my early business learning, I’d be a billionaire. The power of the Internet alone is huge. Imagine if in order to contact 1,000 people, you used to have to write them postal letters. Or telephone them. I mean that’s a monumental amount of effort. Today you just post something on Facebook or Twitter. Done. Or you do some mass email thing. I mean today I have a podcast, but in the past I would have had to find my way into radio to reach out to people with audio. And that meant a lot of radio learning and experience and convincing the owners of radio stations that I was worthy on their airwaves.
So if anyone tells me in 2019 that they “can’t make it”, I burst out into uncontrollable laughter. With the tools of reaching the world that are freely available to everyone and the fact you can do this sitting on your butt, there are NO excuses anymore. Excuses are for losers.
I wanted to spend some time talking about the mindset that you need to have to succeed with my teachings. Because the teachings are not rocket science, if you could see things the way I see them. And I see them because of a combination of a positive mental attitude, an embracement of problem solving, and an appetite to seek out opportunities. That all comes from having the right mindset that must first be cultivated.
It’s possible you already have that mindset. I hope that is the case. Maybe those that are driven to my message have that, but I can honestly say there are a huge percentage of people out there that are meandering through life, wandering into the woods, and they are victims waiting to happen. They go on Twitter or Facebook or whatever and they whine that life didn’t give them what the rich people have. Or that it is impossible on salary X to be financially independent. Or that the world or the govt is out to get them and they can never succeed.
If you are one of those people, or have ever posted some sort of negative tale of yourself, stop it now. You expend as much energy whining about things as you could spend on solving them if you have the right mindset. We need to create a society of excited, happy, proud and infectious problem solvers. Not depressed, down in the dumps “It will never happen for me” people. Your mindset is defining your own outcome here. If you believe you can’t do something, you sure as hell will never do it. Yet our media, our leaders and our peers send us that negative message that we are not worth it, or we can never be president or that we will never have what the 1% have, etc. This is all lies. The sooner you wake up to that, the faster you will get your freedom back.
I hate to tell you this, but life is about struggle and suffering. And that each of us have a responsibility to transcend that and make the world a better place. And you start with YOU. Yes, YOU. Like they say on the airplane safety speech, if the oxygen masks fall from the ceiling, you put YOURS on first before you try and help those around you. That’s how you must approach becoming unconstrained. It starts with you and your mind.
There is an excellent Jordan Peterson video on this that you should watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLvd_ZbX1w0 He talks about the fact that we humans have created things that work is a miracle and we should all have some humility for those that have come before us and done things that are just amazing. And that we must must attempt to better our own lives in order to better the world as a whole. I believe entirely in that approach. But it is really hard to do good things in the world if you have no money, no time, no freedom, no tools. You may as well just give up before you start.
But wait.... Isn’t that the very mindset we should run from? Yes, it is. The fact is that life is hard. It is supposed to be hard. It is a miracle alone that you are a breathing human organism. That you were created from en embryo, that you survived your own birth and that you were born into a place and time where you were not an instant meal to a predator. You see how far we have come?
You could have been born into a tribe in sub-Saharan Africa with little or no prospects other than to survive. Where the life expectancy wasn’t likely to be more than 50. Yes, that could have been you. Why is it that it isn’t you?
Luck. Pure and simple - luck. So how about you take stock of just how lucky you are, and realize that you have the power, location, language, tools and technologies to advance from that point. Not to stop your own evolution right now, give up and embrace the concept that this is as good as it gets. It isn’t. You define as good as it gets. Yes, you. Not me, not your parents, not your professor, not your teachers and not your friends. You.
With this enormous luck and resources all around us, we must start by recognizing what we have and we must use it to transcend our suffering. That typically starts with survival and that needs money. So you must begin to take stock of what you have and use it to make money. Yes, we all have time. And we probably have some ability to do manual labor. Ask yourself, what is in demand in your local domain and how can you make money providing services that are in demand that people want? And what are people willing to pay for said services? Remember that if providing those services is based on you being paid by the hour, then as long as you realize that is a short term strategy that you need only do for a short period of time, you can become unconstrained. But it is human nature to dominate other humans so you must find yourself quickly in a position where you cannot be dominated because you are either essential to others or (better still) you own something that is essential to others. That’s the challenge. I can’t tell you what that is because I don’t live in your town or know what you can do. But you do.
The thing is that most of us become consumed and hypnotized with main stream media telling you that the world is all about some political sporting event of Team A vs. Team B. Or that some smarty pants economists are telling you that unemployment rate is X or that the GDP is Y. It is all BS. Pure BS. The unemployment rate is more a measure of how people feel about themselves than anything else. Because those that create wealth don’t give a crap about the unemployment rate. They are self-employed and they are ALWAYS employed. It is what you do with your time that defines your own personal GDP and whether your neighbor is slacking off and losing his job is his problem - not yours. Your problem should be what did you do today that was meaningful and solved some sort of problem. Each day you need to ask yourself that question. If you do, you won’t be constrained.
Also you have to realize that life isn’t a short term proposition. If you are on this planet for 80+ years, then you need a strategy that works for the entire 80+ years. Not a strategy that works for 1, 2 or 5 years. Because what happens after that? You are older, probably less energetic, and although wiser if you have to return back to the starting line again, you will perpetually be running the same race over and over. Why not be smarter and realize that once you have the inertia going, it is easier to continue that forward motion than it is to stop and have to start again, pushing against the laws of physics all the time. This is a constant mistake I see all the time. Some people have this focus on short term gains, rather than long term wins. Take for example, flipping houses for profit. I love the idea of making money taking a bad property and turning it into a good property. You get a windfall of profit once you sell it. But then what?
Unless you invest that profit into something that doesn’t require your energy, you will be perpetually running a race, finishing it, and returning back to a cold start each time. But if you were to take the resulting property and put it back on the rental market, you would get a smaller trickle but potentially for the rest of your life. Then if you were to do it all over again, you could scale that for a 2nd and 3rd rental property. Sure, it isn’t as dynamic. It won’t make a great reality TV show, but your life isn’t a reality TV show. It is your life. When you are 75 years old and maybe you don’t have the energy like you did in your 20s, you’ll be really thankful that you have a portfolio of rental properties making you money each month so that you don’t have to worry anymore. That’s how you play a long game. The sooner you start it, the sooner you get the rewards. But it is a marathon and not a sprint. If you want to flip properties intially to get capital to invest in longer term assets, then that’s ok - that may be a wise move. But your focus is on how your life may look in 20 years time because there is a really high probability that you will still be alive then and although the world may look different to you (marriage or lack thereof, kids or lack thereof, etc.) you will still be alive. Wouldn’t it be better that you were alive with the backing of financial sustainability to make it a bit easier on your expected life struggles?
So you have to start positive, and you have to play a long game here. And I don’t care where your starting line is. You have to start from that.
Did you know that the vast number of new millionaires in the USA are immigrants? I’m one of those. I’ve done it twice. I came here with literally nothing but a suitcase, and I made my wealth by realizing the enormous opportunities that the United States has. Do you know how many billion people want to be here? And what they will do to get here? And trust me - they are not the downtrodden refuge that the TV shows at the southern border. Most immigrants land here by airplane. What they do after that is their story. And they have a hell of a story most of the time.
Do you think that when an immigrant comes here and is told “No” to getting credit cards, “No” to getting a car loan, “No” to getting a job, “No” to getting a rental apartment, that this stops them? They know that the more “Nos” they get, the closer they are getting to a “Yes”. They only need one person to give them a lease on somewhere to live. They only need one bank to say Yes to a credit card. They only need to drive one car. Once they have this, then what they do with it defines their future. And because they came from struggle, they are positive about their journey because it probably is far better than the opportunities they had where they come from. So they have respect. Respect for what they get, and respect for the hard work that it takes to get it. They work harder than most because they are clawing their way up from literally nothing. They don’t have parents that give them advice, money, a roof over their heads, etc. They have nothing other than a VISA or some way that they get to stay here.
Some outperform. Here’s an interesting article from the Washington Post about this:
Consider people that you know in the USA that are immigrants - Elon Musk, Sergey Brin from Google, etc. These are billionaires. They saw opportunity in the USA and they took it. But for each one of the billionaires out there, there are thousands and thousands of stories of millionaires that came along the same path as these immigrants.
What did they all have in common when they came to the USA? Hope. Yes, positive hope. They knew that this was the land of opportunitiy so they took it. They added so much to the US society - without them no Google, no Tesla, etc. Even Steve Job’s parents were immigrants from Syria. Yes, Syria. You know - that place with all the wars, refugees, death, dictators, etc. Do you think that a Syrian immigrant doesn’t have a desire to do better? Sure, they don’t want to be killed. But once they settle into a safter place, then what? They want to create something with the gift of hope that they have been given. And they do. That’s how you get Apple Computer Inc.
But it doesn’t have to be an immigrant. Maybe it is someone from a lower economic class in the USA. I hear all the time about the downtrodden that just can’t catch a break. That they prefer to live on fictional disability benefits than to get out and work. Because the Man is keeping them down, or whatever lame excuse is out there.
Then I find someone like this on YouTube and I realize that you can pull yourself up from nothing and be a success. FYI... This guy makes around $20,000 a month with YouTube video revenue, and he does it motivating others to be entrepeneurs based on his own story. I would class him as a hero. You can be a hero too...
OK, so I’ve now given you a scolding. I guess it is the old personal trainer technique of breaking you down, so you can build yourself up again.
Where do you start to change your mindset. First thing - remove anything negative from your vocabulary. It is pretty easy. When faced with some difficult situation, the response to it should not be “I can’t do that”, but rather “How can I do that?”. The one thing we all have is problem solving skills. You need to engage those skills - not put them back in the drawer.
There was a recent TV series on the Discovery channel called “Undercover Billionaire”. Seek it out if you haven’t seen it. Sure, its a TV show, so there is a lot of fiction. But I can tell you that most of it is 100% real. It shows how someone who ahs already made it in business can return back to nothing and build it back up again. His goal was to be stripped of all wealth other than a car and a small amount of cash, and turn that into $1 million in 90 days. He can’t use any of his contacts, and has to do this in a place he’s never been to before with no idea of what is there.
If you see what he is willing to do to get started, then you can see often what struggle looks like. Living in a car, eating Ramen noodles, etc. But by leverage and starting small and working with people and helping them reach their goals, it came back around to him very quickly. He ended up starting a major restaurant, employing half a dozen people initially then many more after it had traction and showing people that anyone down on their luck can dig themselves out of a hole and turn it into a profitable business.
So I bring this back to my little Twitter conversation. The thread started based on a government program that was enacted to try and modify the way that student loans work for those that go to college. I started some viral thread by asking the question, “If the efficacy of a college education is so low, so that a Bachelor's degree has about the same value as a 1980 High School Diploma, shouldn't we be talking about whether students *should* go to & pay for college, rather than the #collegeaffordabilityact?”
This must have touched a nerve. I received over 168 likes, and 33 retweets of this, with over 37,400 impressions on Twitter. Just for asking a basic question. But when I started to engage in the conversation that ensued from this, I started to come face to face with many that had been blindsided by the herd mentality and were constrained. And man, they didn’t like being constrained. They didn’t like that they had to face the next 20 years of paying off that student debt. And being brought up close and personal to that reality, the world of denial and anger was palpable.
When I said, “Well there is a better way”, I got all the naysayers. I mean you’ve seen them out there. They will expend energy to tell you that something can’t be done, because they haven’t done it. And when you counter with, “Actually it can because I did it”, they then turn to attacking the message because they don’t believe it. I mean if they couldn’t do it, it can’t be true, right? I mean if you tell me that I failed, then you are attacking my fragile ego, so better I attack you first. This is what humanity has fallen to, unfortunately. But I believe it is a temporary situation because, as Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working out for ya?”.
The thing is that I go away, but they still have to wake up each morning with themselves. They have to look in the mirror, they have to look at their bank balance and they have to go to work in the same gridlock traffic, to the same job they hate, to the same desk, to the same feeling of meaningless. I want them to change that, but I can’t do it for them.
Case in point, a conversation moved to the “Well how can I become financially independent?”. We’ve become a society that expects an answer in 280 characters or less, I suspect. Well that’s stupid. I just told the person to listen to my podcast. Then I went back to Episode 1 of this podcast to listen to it myself and realized that everything I had been talking about - from financial independence to student loan debt, etc. was in that 30 minute piece. I mean everything. Holy cow - the answers had been out there for ages, but no one is finding it. If they did, and if they enacted those teachings, that person would probably evangelize it themselves and tell the next person, and then the next, and each one of those people (if they found it worked for them) would tell their friends, etc. This would be huge and viral. Not like some stupid Tweet that lasts 24 hours but as something that could last them 80+ years.
And it isn’t a teaching that is forced on anyone from on high. It is designed to be a ground up movement of change.
The thing is that I won’t probably know of anyone’s success with this because it is a long game. 20 years from now, they would be looking at their financial position and realizing the struggle that they went through to get to it, and hopefully they might remember some podcast they found or some blog or something that got them started. But probably not. That’s ok - I’m not doing this for “at-a-boys”. I’m doing this because i get really frustrated with people not seeing how easy things are, but then I have to look at myself and realize that they aren’t seeing anything because they are seeing the world through a negative filter.
Anyway just to complete the circle, I’ll explain how I would make $100K at the age of 24 in order to use it as a downpayment to a rental property.
If you don’t have any cash initially, you gotta get some. That means you will have to sell your time for money (initially). You first have to clear your plate and allocate time to this. If you are working 3 jobs, then the timing on this might not be for you, but I’m sure the motivation to do it is. Maybe you have to look at what your outgoing expenses are and cut them down to the absolute bare minimum. That’s not hard or time consuming. If your cell phone plan is too expensive, find another on the Internet, then call your carrier and cancel it. You might have to take a hit to do that, but chalk that up to experience. You made a bad decision, so you have to wear that. It’s life - learn from it. But after a month or so, your outgoings are down. Do the same with everything. As I teach having an accounting of all of your outgoing expenses is critical and a budget so you know where your money is going. It’s time to cut back like you’ve never cut back. Consider those that come to this country with nothing. Cut yourself back to something closer to that than where you are. Maybe this will free up your need to hvae 3 jobs, so you can take a small risk on something that will pay you back.
I can tell you that when you invest your time in what everyone else is doing, you won’t get much for it. Take driving an Uber for example. You won’t be a rich person doing that. Your car will be destroyed from the mileage. I don’t see that as a viable way to make money. What I do see, however, would be to invest in a small micro-business doing car detailing, or screen printing, or buying vending machines, etc. Yes, it will take some investment up front to get the innertia happening, but if you can drive an Uber to make $5,000 to invest in this, then you can stop driving an Uber and start running your business. And be patient - this might take 12-24 months to gain traction, but unlike your crappy job, the harder you work the more YOU make. Take away as many limits as you can, and you can make it. The snowball effect will start. Maybe the first 3 months you are in the red, but after that (as long as you are diligent, hard working and repetitive) you will get purchase and the income will flow. Start to put aside profits so that you can work towards your $100K goal. If you have to scale up to make more, that’s fine but it is based on the assumption that your business is something you are willing to work at for 3-5 years minimum. For me, I love business so I would do that forever. It is what gets me up in the morning. I know that as I go out there and do business, I encounter other opportunities. Why? Because I have a positive attitude when I go out there. It is infectious and it attracts money.
Yes, I said it - a positive attitude attracts money. But you can’t attract anything until you go out in the marketplace. And it all comes down to people. If you respect others, yet demand respect, they will give it to you. And if you understand that everyone out there has needs in business and that you have needs too, and you can create a win-win situation by being a problem solver, you will be rich.
$100K will be a short term goal that you will look back on and laugh one day. “I was freaking out about $100K? What was I thinking?”. How do you eat an elephant? One bit at a time. This is your first bite. Your side hustle here, if you invest the profits and continue working hard, will easily result in $100K. You just may have to be patient and diligent and that means keeping that positive mindset for the long term. Hey, you might even find you like yourself a bit more for doing it.
You will get a lot of “No’s” before you get a Yes. Get excited with each No because you are one step closer to a Yes. Don’t let the No’s stop you - you might be surprised that if you build a positive relationship with someone in business that they may come to you when you least expect it in the future (remember that future of 80+ years you have), and present an opportunity that you didn’t do anything to get? That’s the power of building up positive working relationships with people. People love to surround themselves with happy, positive people. It is infectious.
Just as you can do great things with a positive attitude and problem solving skills, you can also go out there and do a lot of damage. Here’s an example of just how bad I’ve recently seen someone act in business. I don’t blame her personally for this - she just was never trained in how to deal with people. I guess it was one of those situations where she thought she was in the right business for her, but clearly she’s wasted five years of her life doing something that is just plain the wrong fit for her.
A friend of mine has a beautiful classic sports car - a Shelby Mustang Cobra. He’s from Australia, but he bought that car in the USA. It makes more sense for him to store the car in the USA than to take it back to Australia. Not only is the steering wheel on the opposite side of the car to what is needed in Australia, where he lives doesn’t have roads that would be good for a muscle car and the taxes on import can be severe. So he stores it in a storage facility in the USA and comes to visit it a couple of times a year, often resulting in some epic across country road trip. He’s financially independent and practices the art of financial sustainability himself, so he can afford to do this with his free time.
Anyway he had this car stored in a storage facility in Apache Junction, Arizona. The car had been stored there for many years, and the guy who ran the storage facility was a really great operator. His name was Steve. Unfortunately about six months ago, Steve took ill and had to sell his storage facility. As often happens, a larger corporation was in the market to buy it. I guess Steve himself was someone who embraced the art of financial sustainability because when he sold his business, he got money for the decades of goodwill he built up with it, and the real estate, so he cashed out well. This corporation that owned dozens of these storage facilities around the country came in with their suitcases of cash (probably low interest money) and bought it.
With that, the existing customers now had a new landlord looking after their stuff. Despite the legal rules on doing this, the new landlord decided to double the storage fees. This was probably to help them fund the acquisition of the storage facility, but for someone who had been a loyal customer for 10 years, this was a shock.
There seemed to be some discussion that the new landlord was going to be a jerk and thought that they had the power to keep the customers there because they wouldn’t have the time or energy to get their stuff and move it. I mean the whole reason they got a storage unit (for the most part) was that they had accumulated too much stuff in the first place - something we advocate against - and would just pay rather than be burdened with moving it.
But my friend and I were raised in the same town, with the same belief system that you treat people with respect and that tenure matters. If you have been a loyal customer for 10 years, that is the goodwill that is a valuable asset to the business, so you at least try and pay some respect to that.
Anyway my friend flies over from Australia, and goes to the storage unit to get his car. He decides that before he just pulls his car out of there and moves it to a newer and cheaper place (he had already found one that would take it for less than he was originally paying), he would at least sit down with the new landlord and explain what he wanted to do, to see if they would at least try and accommodate him. He realized that this might be a tall order, but at least it was worth a try because over the years, the previous landlord had been great to work with and he felt safe there.
I was with him, so we walk into the front office and sit down with the Property Manager. This is the lady that represented the storage facility. He explains that he’s been a loyal customer for 10+ years and asks whether the lady can accommodate him by continuing the existing pricing he has on his lease. Now the interesting thing here is that he has a 3 year lease that he signed with the previous owner, and by law would expect the new owners to honor that, but despite the legal situation they wouldn’t do it.
When he explained his position, I heard the property manager say things like, “We’ve done market research and believe the market rate is $X per month”, and “Sorry, but business is business”. I mean she wasn’t rude, but she was more passive aggressive with this. She was basically just saying to him, “We have the power here and you are in no position to negotiate, so the price is what it is”.
This is where a person and a stupid attitude can destroy a business. First, he had no interest in pursing any legal claim to them honoring the lease, but with her attitude, now he does. Second, “business is NOT business”. Business is the transaction between two parties that should be a win-win for everyone. Third, this lady made no effort at all to accommodate him. She was not the decision maker, but all she needed to say say was “Let me talk to my corporate office and see what we can do”. Even if she couldn’t do anything, the fact that she was trying to help out a customer would have gone a long way to not leaving in a negative light.
What was the end result? Well he moved the car to a better and cheaper place, that had staff that really knew what they were doing, were positive, helped him solve a problem, etc. He will now enact a lawsuit with the Attorney General’s department against this company. He will go on Yelp, Google Reviews, etc. and tell the world of the negative experience. He will never recommend that company to anyone. The company now has an empty storage unit, no revenue coming from it. The one month of no revenue will be worth 12 months of increased revenue because of the cost to re-advertise it, etc. And they were far from full - when we looked at the occupancy, it was only about 50%.
They still have ongoing expenses, salaries, power, security costs, interest payments, property taxes, insurance, etc. to pay each month. That isn’t changing. What is changing, however, is the revenue stream is now lower than it was. That means either they will trade at a loss, or they won’t get any profits from it. Meanwhile I will wait on the sidelines and watch this perpetual destruction of a business and realize that this place, in a few years, will probably be put back on the market for pennies on the dollar and I’ll buy it. Why? I like the storage unit business, and with my 20+ years of property rental experience, I know how to run a business like that. Not like some accountant behind a spreadsheet, but as a person who respects other people and wants to find win-win solutions for customers. That’s how you build up enormous goodwill so that in 10 or so years later, I can sell that place for 10x what I paid for it, and cash out.
You see there is nothing different here with being a good “operator” as it is for the negative person on Twitter who believes they can’t make $100K to start a rental property investment. They can. Deep down they know they can, but they are either scared to begin it, or have been subjected to so many people telling them that they are not worth it or have business thinking about doing that, or that they are only as good as the herd and need to stop making noise and trying to be better than everyone else. Pure fiction.
But it is no different to the faceless corporation thinking that business based on bullying is anything but bad for the long term. Again, you might make some extra money in the short term, but in a world where we live for 80+ years, how’s that really going to help you out?
A positive mindset, a willingness to do what it takes to make money, a realization that it is competitive out there and there are plenty of others that are willing to do more than you to make money, and yet a realization that competition is a GOOD thing and it will raise your standards up rather than letting you perpetuate the habit of doing the wrong thing over and over again, never allowing you to learn anything about yourself and dig yourself out of the hole you probably found yourself in because no one told you that only YOU can change YOU, and it starts first with changing your mindset.