Energy, The Only Metric

Energy, The Only Metric

My entire life has been an active one.

Starting in middle school and all through high school I had long days. Early mornings to school followed by basketball , football, or baseball practice.

Once married, my long days continued.

For long periods of time I’d work two jobs. Or worked a job and went to night school. Or worked a job and at night practiced martial arts. Always playing basketball. Or working out. Or golfing. Always moving. Always active. Plenty of energy.

Until now.

My health has not been good.

For almost two years now, I’ve been battling daily with a lack of energy. I’ve been lethargic, I’ve had no enthusiasm. Literally, I could go to sleep nightly at 6 or 7PM without difficulty and sleep through the night.

I’ve tried decreasing my sugar intake. Extreme workouts. No breakfast. No carbs. I’ve tried vitamins. I’ve read books. I’ve prayed.

Try as I might, I still have not solved the problem.

What is energy? What is it’s source? How do we create it?

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. In essence, energy can only be transferred from one form to another. Apparently, energy just IS.

If this is true, how do we gain access to it? How do we convert it and apply it in our lives?

As I contemplate this problem, I’m encouraged by the notion that the energy is available. Somehow I just need to tap into the source.

I’m reading the book by Swami Chinmayananda, A Manual of Self Unfoldment, recommended to me by a friend.

A Swami is a male Hindu religious leader, and as someone who knows next to nothing about Hinduism, I’ve been reading with great anticipation as to how this viewpoint aligns with the life of Jesus and his teachings.

Although I’m not quite through the book, I’m pleasantly surprised with the synchronicity of these ideas with the life of Christ.

What’s super exciting to me are the chapters around mindset and the timely topic of chapter 4 : Conservation of Energy.

The essence of the chapter is that we have three areas in life where our energy, which already resides inside of us, dissipates, or leaks. The Swami teaches first to conserve your energy by stopping the leaks.

The three leaks are represented in the past, the present, and the future.

The past takes our energy if we focus on regret.

The present robs our energy if we focus on the excitement of unhealthy pursuits.

The future steals our energy when we focus on anxiety and worry.

Our energy is conserved and increased when we focus on the present and replace our excitement of unhealthy pursuits with enthusiasm for good and moral endeavors. This righteous purpose ultimately becomes an energy source all it’s own.

What I’ve learned is that the energy we seek is already present. We must first conserve it. Once we’ve stopped the leaks, we can take the energy conserved and begin to build.

Scott Adams, one of my favorite authors, puts energy in perspective. “The way I approach the problem of multiple priorities is by focusing on just one main metric: my energy. I make choices that maximize my personal energy because that makes it easier to manage all of the other priorities.”

Energy is our only metric. Mental, physical, and spiritual energy. Energy that can be given away to benefit our neighbor, all the while making the world a better place.

Here’s to the builders and creators who harness their energy to forge a future that benefits us all.

Here’s to you and me, reclaiming the energy within.

The Case for Socialism

The Case for Socialism

My dad thinks I’m a socialist because I don’t think utility companies represent capitalism.

“Nobody can compete with Duke Energy.” – I said. “That’s not a free market.”

If someone wanted to start a competitive energy business, the costs and regulations would be overwhelming and nearly impossible to do. Even if you had a product to compete, like a solar product, the lobbyists for Duke Energy would exert pressure on the politicians and you’d be squeezed out before you could get started.

It’s not capitalism.

It’s fake, phony, crony capitalism.

Unfortunately, America is full of these type of industries.

Five companies control 90% of everything you see on television, the newspapers, and movies. Only five.

The internet is dominated by Facebook, Google, Amazon and Twitter and all are powered by a shared underlying technology that captures our personal data and resells it for profit without our consent. What’s worse is that they didn’t create the technology, they, with help from their paid politicians, usurped it from our own government.

Our banking system is dominated by financial institutions on Wall Street who trade on information not available to the general public. To boot, they regularly get bailed out in economic downturns. These institutions are “too big to fail.”

Not capitalism.

Although I’m against all of these corrupt institutions, and I don’t consider myself a socialist, I find myself agreeing with a lot of what the socialists have to say.

Men and women work their whole lives building their wealth and instead of leaving it to their heirs, they give it back to the overpriced health care system in their final days of life. Their kids, desperate to get ahead, take on debt to get an education that doesn’t quite provide a job that pays enough to settle that debt. All while these institutions profit quite nicely.

People just want a fair shot at earning a living. Socialism comes from the hearts and minds of well intentioned people.

Crony capitalism even rears its ugly head during the current pandemic.

Wal-Mart is open, yet small coffee shops are shut down. Amazon’s business just rolls along while local bookstores are closing. Home Depot is open while local gyms, dentists, and restaurants across the country are draining their life savings to keep their business afloat.

America has lost it’s way and left individuals and small businesses behind. Capitalism? I don’t think so.

Even so, don’t fret, I think something good, no, something great is coming–devolution.

You’ve heard of evolution, well this is the opposite. Devolving. Getting less centralized. Going back in time. To a simpler and better place.

For a few years now, I’ve seen the economic collapse coming. These corrupt institutions, and the debt system that props them up, are coming to an end. The bankruptcy of the United States of America is well into it’s final stages and once it’s settled there will be a fresh start.

On the other side will be a wealth transfer from these institutions to everyday Americans as the devolution begins. Technology and information hoarded by those in New York and Palo Alto will be democratized to middle America.

The giant internet companies, along with the corporate media will be broken up either by the weight of their corruption or by legislation.

Banks, health care, education, will all be decentralized. No longer propped up by politicians and debt, these mega institutions will be completely destroyed as they won’t be able to compete with the smaller, more nimble, more affordable competitors.

You don’t think it will happen?

It’s already started.

Traditional banks are being replaced by banking apps. Doctors and teachers are practicing their craft from their dining room tables right now. Decentralized. No large institution needed. No tax money needed.

The devolution continues.

According to polls 40% of parents are considering homeschooling. Jack Dorsey, CEO and founder of Twitter, recently emailed his employees granting them remote work status, even after Corona has been solved.

More and more high school graduates are opting out of a high debt college education, opting instead for traditional trade schools and apprenticeships.

As schools lose customers, (notice I didn’t say students), and Twitter leaves their commercial office space, the devolution will be accelerated.

How will the devolution impact you and me? How should we prepare to take advantage of this new world?

First, I think we need to embrace the only constant in life, change. Radical change.

Next, we need to take the opportunity to grow. Read. Take classes. Pursue interests for which we have passion. Make something. Solve a common problem. Start a side business. Begin a blog.

As our inner voice calls us to build, produce, and create, I think we should lean into our unique differences and find a way to serve our fellow man.

The unique you. The unique me. Monopolies in our own right. Even Duke Energy won’t be able to compete.

Who’s right? Is it Grind or is it Flow?

Who’s right? Is it Grind or is it Flow?

Recently, Tiger Woods explained his primary regret looking back on his golf career.

“Not to run so much,” Woods said. “Running over 30 miles a week for probably my first five or six years on Tour pretty much destroyed my body and my knees.”

His motivation, at the time, was his incredible drive to be the best. His mental toughness led to a super human work ethic.

Did Tiger’s grinding cost him his health and prevent him from breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record for Major Championship wins?

Where did he learn to grind?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that his father and mentor, a former infantry officer, had something to do with it.

Mentors can have a tremendous impact in our lives. Fortunately for me, I’ve had quite a few.

When my daughter started playing basketball her coach was Jay Rich. He asked me to be his assistant and I’m so glad he did. Not only was he my coaching mentor, but ultimately he became my real estate mentor.

My time with him was invaluable. A former teacher, Jay had an amazing ability to take a subject and simplify it for his students. He is the best teacher I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve had a lot of great teachers. He has an ability to boil down a subject to it’s essence.

Truly, I could list dozens of lessons learned from him, but the greatest lesson I learned from Jay is basketball related, yet still applies to everyday life. During practice drills, he would encourage the girls, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”

Later in life, I met my spiritual mentor.

Doug Feagles is a custom home builder. We met every Friday at 6:00AM for a little over 10 years and still meet periodically 5 years later. Our goal? Coffee, bible, and growth.

One of the most compelling lessons I learned was found in the New Testament. James 4:13, 14. “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

This passage reminded us that plans are futile. That God , in his wisdom, relieved me from the stress of plotting, planning, and controlling my future. Instead, it’s best to operate daily the way nature operates. Free and easy. Trusting God daily.

Finally, I had an amazing storytelling coach by the name of Ryan Fletcher.

He’s the single reason I became a writer, started a podcast, and wrote a book.

Like Doug and Jay, he’s one of the most talented human beings and best teachers I’ve ever met. Another man of principle.

A former football player and linebacker, he was intense. He didn’t have a lot of tolerance for incompetence and would call you out in a New York minute. It wasn’t personal, he just wanted all of his students to win. To be their best.

One of his guiding principles was to grind. To push yourself to beyond your comfort level. He calls it grit.

He’s not alone in this particular view point. Earlier this year I read Jocko Willik’s book, Discipline Equals Freedom. In that book he suggests to never take a day off from listing weights. To push yourself. To be mentally tough. Mind over body.

Although I agree with both Ryan and Jocko in general, I struggle with this concept because it conflicts with my previous mentors concept of being natural and moving in rhythm.

Who is right? Is it grind or is it flow?

While reading through John Little’s book, The Warrior Within, the Philosophies of Bruce Lee, I’ve come to understand this interesting dichotomy.

In the book he introduces Wu-Wei. Wu meaning “not”, Wei translated at “striving”.

An analogy used in the book is that of two trees and a snowstorm. One tree is an oak, tall strong and rigid. The other is a willow, long, and flexible.

As snow accumulates on the oak, the rigid branches break, and fall to the ground.

On the other hand, the willow branches bend, allowing the accumulating snow to fall as the branch springs back.

Should we be more like the oak or the willow?

My default for answering questions like this is simple. What does Jesus think?

In Matthew 11:30 Jesus proclaims–”My yoke is easy, my burden is light.”

Easy. Light. As in not striving. Not sweating. Not grinding.

To grind or not to grind, that is the question. I choose not to grind, but fully respect those who do.

In fairness to Tiger’s dad, you gotta believe that the greatest golfer in history would not have succeeded had it not been for his mental toughness and grind.

Fletcher and Jocko are massively successful grinders.

Still yet, I choose flow. Allowing for the rhythms of life and God to guide me. To live in complete peace, tranquility, and balance. All along preparing for the enemy and fully aware of the intellectual, physical, and spiritual battles sure to come.

A warrior, engaged in a fight, staying on balance, defending in flow, the opponents attack and redirecting the energy to my advantage.

Ultimately, our approach has to authentic to us. Shaped by our own personal beliefs and the mentors we choose to follow.

Investing in The Process

Investing in The Process

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to own property.

Ambitious since the age of eight, I used to dream each night about how big my empire would be.

In the dreams I would drive around in a big white cadillac in my three piece suit and check in on my businesses and houses.

Eight years old. Really weird, right?

What’s crazy about those dreams is that by time I was eight I had never lived a house. I’d only lived in apartments.

I thought rich people owned houses.

I did however, start a few businesses. Selling seeds, GRIT Magazine, Mason Shoes, and Christmas cards door to door in my apartment complex. I even had a paper route.

When I first got into real estate I was 35 years old. I had been in the building products business selling lumber, doors, windows and cabinets to builders, remodelers, and investors for my entire career.

My plan was to learn the business, buy property to flip, and buy a property to hold. Over time I would build a portfolio a homes and build cash flow. Once the investments grew large enough, I would buy or start my own lumberyard, a business in which I had lots of experience.

Five years later, I had a really good real estate practice so I felt like it was time to invest.

However, instead of investing in property, I bought a small business. Kind of a short cut to my original plan.

In May of 2007 I purchased a cabinet business to go along with a thriving real estate practice.

My life for the next 3 years was chaos as both of my kids graduated high school , the cabinet business took center stage, and the financial meltdown of 2008 wrecked the world.

To say the financial crisis of 2008 was a recession is not doing it justice. It was a DEPRESSION. I saw builders go bankrupt. I saw businesses shutter. I saw well respected developers lose everything they had.

Unfortunately, in 2010 I ran out of cash as the revenue for the business dried up and I was forced to sell my cabinet business.

Devastated both financially and emotionally I began anew.

One year later I started my own real estate brokerage.

The years that followed saw changes in my real estate business strategy as traditional real estate sales were harder and harder to find.

Alternatively, I focused on helping distressed homeowners sell their homes to avoid foreclosure and I started to sell properties to real estate investors.

Although I had a lot of experience with investors and builders, I went even deeper into the financing and investing principles and even started a regular investment class at my local title company.

Still yet, I hadn’t purchased my first income producing property. Honestly, it wasn’t even on my mind.

Instead, I was focused on my own personal finances and reimagining my real estate business.

Theresa and I bought, rehabbed, and flipped a property in 2014 and purchased a property that now houses my real estate practice.

Back in January I finally decided to make it an income producing property. Not only does it serve as an office for me and a conference room, podcast studio, and breakroom, but I added two bedrooms which are rented via Air BNB.

So finally, ten years after my business investment failed, my real estate empire has grown to one income property. LOL.

You see, I may have a string of failures behind me, but I ain’t no quitter.

Even though we are about to go through another financial meltdown, I believe God has shown me a very important principle when it comes to investing.

Don’t short cut the process, for it’s where the lessons are learned.

Don’t take the easy and faster route. Take the road less traveled. Growth is better, when it’s slow and steady.

Every time I look at a tree I’m reminded of God’s intent for our growth.

Soil. Seed. Root. Water. Growth.

It’s with this mindset that I move forward with my intellectual, physical and spiritual growth.

My plan is to buy one house per year to hold and rent for the next 15 years. All while I grow my real estate practice the same way–one agent at a time. One client at a time.

Goal for 2021– One investment house. 3 Real estate agents, and better relationships with all who I’m blessed to meet.

Investments worthwhile take time and effort.

I plan on enjoying the process.