This is Randal Burton. He owns Gracie Cincinnati, a Jiu Jitsu Academy in Blue Ash.

I caught him doing this and got so excited, I just had to take a photo.

Excited? Over someone mopping a floor? Seriously?


Actually, it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

You see, this isn’t the first time I’ve caught Professor Burton cleaning the floors. Or collecting trash. Or organizing chairs. It’s actually quite normal.

But no one will ever hear about it. There won’t be any headlines. There won’t be an award given.

So, why would the owner of the school, regularly do this type of work? Surely there are others who can do these tasks?

I submit to you that he does it because he cares. Because he wants his students to have a clean surface for their training. That he respects the employees and teachers who dedicate their time enough to give back. That he likes to see things done right. That details matter.

All of these things are important, but it’s not what gets me most excited.

What gets me excited is that he is setting the tone for his business. He’s setting standards for behavior without saying a word. He’s teaching fundamentals by his actions.

This is true leadership. A blackbelt in Jiu Jitsu, demonstrating blackbelt level leadership. All the while his students catch his lessons.

It seems that important lessons in life are not taught, instead–they are caught.

It’s how I learn.

My primary instructor at Gracie is Professor Steve Wong.

Steve is a long time blackbelt who has trained with some of the greatest martial artists in the world, including Rickson Gracie, who personally awarded Steve’s blue belt. Who is Rickson Gracie? He’s the son of Helio Gracie, the founder of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and whom some consider the best fighter to ever live.

One day in class, Steve “caught” me making the biggest mistake a fighter can make while defending. As my training partner took a dominate position I reached up with my hands to defend myself. Steve, in his no-nonsense style screamed at the top of his lungs “what the f&*$! are you doing!?”

The entire gym got totally silent and all eyes were on me.

Caught! Forever burned in my memory.

This moment has stayed with me because Professor Steve made a big deal out of my mistake.

Why would he scold me in such an aggressive and public way?

Surely he could have waited until after class to gently explain to me that extending my arms while defending from the bottom will get my arm broken.

No, gentle is not the way to react when the subject is a broken arm or God forbid, a life or death situation.

Professor Steve’s reaction was the PERFECT reaction to a very serious mistake. (One that I rarely make now.)

As I think about this incredibly important lesson, I think about how I raised my kids and how I reacted very aggressively when they needed correction.

My son Scott received only a few spankings as a child, but when he ran out into the street as a toddler, I had to get his attention. It was an important, possibly life-saving lesson.

The other time he was severely punished was when he argued with a referee during one of his basketball games.

You see, I picked my spots to punish him and only when it really mattered. Like Professor Steve did with me.

My son is now the father of his own child.

Precious Amelia will one day catch her dad doing something right, and one day her dad will catch her doing something dangerous. In both cases she will learn valuable lessons.

As shown by Professor Randal and Professor Steve, the greatest lessons in life are caught, not taught.

Begin—The Work Will Reveal Itself

Begin—The Work Will Reveal Itself

Recently, I decided to tackle the remodel of my master bath—by myself!

Not that unusual for some folks, but for me this was a bit of a departure as I’m a big believer in paying professionals to do what they do well.

It’s not that I think it’s wrong for people to do work on their own homes, but as an advisor, I regularly advise against it.


As I show houses to a buyer client, I will inevitably spot the work done by the homeowner versus the work done by a professional.

“Looks like the homeowner did this work”, I’d say. Immediately the buyer would be uneasy with the home, thinking to themselves, “ I wonder where else they’ve cut corners?”

The most important component with whether a buyer writes a contract for a house is “confidence”. Without confidence that your house is solid, the sale doesn’t happen.

With all of that in mind, I’d like to share my story and some of the lessons learned by “doing it yourself”.

Ignoring my own advice I tackled this fairly significant project. One that would require removing a light fixture, medicine cabinet, six foot vanity and marble top, a six foot wide by 4 foot tall mirror and replacing them with 3 new lights, two mirrors, and higher quality vanity and top. Of course I’d have to run new electrical wiring which meant cutting out drywall, re-patching, sanding and painting. Not to mention replacing some baseboard and casement trim.

Once you decide to tackle a project like this, the first step is demolition.

One of the big lessons I’ve learned on working on my investment properties is when demolition begins, don’t make a mess. The shows on HGTV like to show people with sledge hammers and safety glasses as they destroy cabinets, and interior walls. Pretty dramatic for television, but a horrible practice as the mess you make can become added work, or worse, a safety hazard.

As I carefully and thoughtfully disassembled the current fixtures, I realized something profound—the work was telling me what to do next.

Not doing this type of work everyday, I realized that in order to remove the mirror and the light fixtures more efficiently I would first need to remove the vanity and marble top underneath.

In order to remove the vanity and marble top, I needed to disconnect the plumbing. Then I needed to use a razor knife to cut away the caulk that was holding the marble top in place.

Each step revealed itself, I really didn’t need to overthink this project.

Maybe this is a metaphor for life.

Maybe I don’t need to map out every detail

Maybe I don’t need to worry about how it will all come together.

Maybe I just need to begin.

Maybe the work reveals itself.

As the project continued another important lesson was revealed—most of life cannot be accomplished alone.

I needed three strong humans to help me. One person to help me get the vanity and top off of my pickup truck. (Thank you Scott Adams) One more to help me get the vanity from my garage to the upstairs bath. (Thank you Michael Adams) And one more to get the top upstairs and into place. (Thank you Jamison Doyal)

Moral of the story: Get started, let the work lead you, but projects, like life, are not meant to do alone.

Fighting – Unavoidable

Fighting – Unavoidable

When I was a kid, my best friend Ralph and I got into a fight.

Not an argument, but a real old fashioned fist fight.

In the 1970’s it wasn’t as uncommon as it is today.

We played outside almost all day. No video games. No computers. No cell phones. Just bikes, balls, rocks, skateboards, and a whole lot of imagination.

I don’t remember what started our fight, but I’m guessing it had to do with basketball, football, or baseball and on a hot summer day in the Ohio Valley tempers can flare.

What I do remember vividly was that I lost that fight. Ralph was quite a bit bigger than me and he got on top of me and just pounded on my chest as I totally freaked out and cried for help, but no one came to my rescue. It was one of the worst memories of my childhood. The feeling of helplessness. Despair.

Although Ralph and I were back friends again the next day, that memory has never left me.

Last year, much to my dismay, I had a flashback of that traumatic memory as I found myself with a very large man on my chest suffocating the life out of me.

Another fight with Ralph? LOL.

No, it was my first week at Gracie Cincinnati Jiu Jitsu and I was learning to survive what’s called “top mount”. That’s when your opponent takes a dominating position and keeps you controlled on the bottom.


Not outwardly, but inwardly, I flashed back to the Ralph fight and felt the same feelings experienced so many years go. Jiu Jitsu wasn’t going to be all that easy—I had some demons to exorcise.

So many of us have these demons.

Moments when we failed. Feeling helpless and hopeless. Despair.

Unfortunately, it’s part of life.

Fighting, turns out, is unavoidable.

Fighting for respect. For your career. For love. Freedom. Fighting for your health.

This morning I started reading a new book by Dave Asprey called “Smarter Not Harder, The Biohackers Guide to Getting the Body and Mind You Want.”

The introduction resonated with me.

Dave shared a concept called the laziness principle which, in essence, is the idea that our body and mind is designed to deal with outward stress in the most efficient way possible. As we go through stress we return to something the Buddhists call equanimity.

Equanimity is the state in which you can remain in control of yourself and be perfectly composed no matter what is happening around you.

Getting to and staying in equanimity is the highest goal of a fighter. (You)

No matter the circumstance you have the ability to make a decision to keep it together or like me FREAK OUT while someone holds you down and beats on your chest.

That decision comes from one of two frames of mind.

Fear says freak out.

Love says, God’s got my back, I’ll get through this a better person.

Real Estate Finance

Real Estate Finance

My real estate career now stands at two decades. One decade as a sales person and another decade as a broker and owner.

My 20 years of experience has made me realize a simple truth—Selling real estate isn’t selling homes at all. For the most part real estate agents sell financing.

Although cash sales represented almost a third of real estate transactions in 2022, most of those sales were by institutional investors. The question becomes “where did those investors acquire the funding?”


Recently I read an article about REIT giant American Homes for Rent who borrowed 500 million dollars to purchase and build rental homes. Or course those homes show that they were purchased with cash, which is true, however, in the end the houses were acquired with borrowed money.

Once I realized that finance is the most important aspect of real estate it dawned on me that I needed to understand more about our financial system and how it operates. So I went down the rabbit hole and began studying everything there is about our monetary system, economics, trading, stocks, bonds, geo politics, the Federal Reserve system, and ultimately I studied currencies.

Why does any of this matter?

If you decide you want to pursue a career in real estate, I would tell you the same thing I tell everyone—don’t quit your day job and build your real estate practice with your spare hours.


Commissioned sales jobs are unreliable sources of income and can leave gaps, your day job can plug those gaps until you have built a business that is self sustaining.

I also encourage anyone who becomes an agent to also be a real estate investor. These properties can provide additional streams of income for later years in your career when you can finally lose the day job.

Becoming an investor requires you to understand the monetary system. How do you raise funds for your next purchase? How do you manage cash flow? Should you invest in other dividend producing vehicles like stocks and bonds?

Ultimately, you won’t fail in real estate because of lack of sales. You’ll fail because you run out of cash. You’ll fail because you haven’t studied the financial system and how real estate, like all assets, is tied directly to interest rates and the direction of the economy.

Do you know that mortgage rates are based on the yield of a 10 year U.S. Treasury Bond? Why would that be important? Is the economy growing? Or slowing? Or crashing?

Do these questions matter to a real estate agent?

The truth is that without financing most homes would be out of reach.

Want to become a real estate agent?

Learn the ins and outs of the financial markets. Decide to understand what real estate agents truly sell—debt.



I’m stuck.

For over 2 years I haven’t been able to write.

It’s not that I’ve not been able to write, it’s that I have chosen not to write.

There seems to be a mystical force blocking my hand when it comes time to publish and until now I did not recognize this invisible enemy–doubt.

I began writing in 2016. At first, to grow an audience and increase my business, but over time it became something more. By the end of 2017 I created a monthly newsletter, started a weekly podcast and published my first book. My goal–to become a storyteller.

You see, storytelling is the ultimate skill in building an audience and ultimately growing an enterprise.

Good stories have the power to engage, encourage, and inspire. They have the ability to capture attention and elicit action.

Here is the conundrum: to elicit action from your audience you need one very important ingredient–belief.

Author Simon Sinek in his book Start with Why proclaims “people buy what you believe.” In other words, people will follow you and support your endeavor if they can get behind your vision. Where are you going? What is your cause?

That’s been my problem for over 2 years now. I’ve begun to doubt what I truly believe.

Ironically, my beliefs began to be challenged one month after my book (where I published my business beliefs) was published in 2017 and have been in a state of flux since.

When I say my beliefs, what I mean is my underlying core understanding of the world around me. How I view God. Existence. Science. Religion. Discipline. Purpose. The truly important topics in life.

What happens to the human psyche when the very underpinnings of your beliefs are taken from you?

As someone who is finally coming to terms with my new circumstance I can tell you, it’s a traumatic experience.

The first thing you lose is your confidence. Next comes your voice. Then comes loss of relationships. Your beliefs, the foundation of how you view life and business ARE EVERYTHING.

Beliefs fuel your purpose. This is a big deal.

If my intuition is correct I’m not the only one experiencing this phenomenon. You too, might be questioning the world around you. Maybe you’re now entering the same place I was a few years ago and you’re wondering how to move forward with all of these doubts.

I can’t really give you advice, but what I can do is share how I’m coping.

I realized there are some fundamental things that will never change. Creation. The beauty of nature. The wonder of art. The goodness of God and His love for people.

Once I realized that no matter how one views science, religion, or politics, our relationships ultimately are what matters. First our relationship with the Creator, then our relationships with one another.

God is good. He wants me to build these relationships and help people along the way. Despite my confidence. Despite my beliefs. Despite my doubts.


Moving. Building. Investing.

Action – The Foundation of Success

Action – The Foundation of Success

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” – Yogi Berra

My brother and I just finished our first remodel project. Together, he and I restored a house that Theresa and I bought as an investment property.

When I say our first remodel project, I mean a project that required our attention and physical presence everyday for 10 weeks to transform an outdated and heavily damaged property back to its former glory.

Built in 1931, this two bedroom 1 bath home was built on a solid poured wall foundation and featured brick and block construction for the exterior walls. The structure was sound. The house had a good roof, HVAC, and frame, but almost everything else needed replaced or repaired.

Normally, I wouldn’t do this project myself. However, the circumstances of the last few years gave me no other option.

Over the last 8 years, my wife and I have tackled three such projects. We bought and rehabbed two houses and rehabbed a house for a family member. In each case, we managed the projects and hired the contractors needed to finish each stage of construction. All three projects turned out fantastic with my wife and I choosing paint colors, cabinets, faucets, and finishes. All the while finding and managing the best contractors for the job.

However, this most recent project was impossible to manage the same way.

You see, contractors are almost impossible to find. Electricians we called told us they’d love to help but couldn’t get to us until the Spring. Plumbers were no better. Painters and trim carpenters the same. Contractors are almost impossible to find.

Luckily for me, my youngest brother Jamie just started his own business. Mainly a painting and powerwashing business, but with his skills in plumbing, electric and general construction he was willing to tackle the job.

Only he couldn’t do it alone. There were too many projects on this particular job and not enough manpower to finish in a reasonable amount of time.

So I donned my newly purchased painters pants and stepped in to do work I would normally hire someone else to do. I became the designer, project manager , and general laborer for my brother—(you know, picking up materials, taking out the trash, you know, glamorous stuff.) All the while, running my real estate practice that was maybe as busy as ever.

The project turned out better than I could have imagined and I’ll share the photos and video in future blog posts, but today I want to share with you an important idea I discovered during the process. An idea so powerful it has the potential to positively change your life permanently.

You see, my brother and I had a problem (a house to transform) and no one to help. I realized midway through the project that we followed, consciously or subconsciously a roadmap to success. We followed a really big idea.

The big idea? is a mindset. A mindset that will help someone who wants to make changes in their life. A growth mindset. is not only a mindset, but a lifestyle.

I created in 2011 when deciding a tagline for my newly formed real estate brokerage. At the time I had been a RE/MAX agent for 9 years and decided to start my own company on the back of the financial crisis which had devastated both my real estate practice and the kitchen cabinet business I owned at the time.

Bastion Realty was born and I wanted to create a tag line to help quickly identify our brand and our principles. Something that described how Bastion was different than the rest. Given my background of working with builders and investors, the words build and invest became obvious for the tagline. The word move came later as I contemplated what our real estate company helped our clients accomplish. Of course no one likes to move from their home, but move is what we do!

So move, build, and invest became the tagline.

It wasn’t until much later did I realize how good this tagline is. (not trying to be arrogant here, but it’s SOOOOO good!)

I tell people all the time that real estate is not a real estate business, but it’s a people business.

People move. People build. People invest.

It’s inside our hearts to want to create. To express ourselves. To change. To hope. To grow. is the answer to every single human problem.

Jesus put it this way in Matthew 7:7…. Ask. Seek. Knock. All verbs. All action. All faith.

In my book Salesperson to Superhero I describe it as Go. Do. Try.

You wanna lose weight? Move. Go!

You want a meaningful career? Build. Do!

You want a better relationship with your daughter? You want prosperity? Invest. Try!

Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll share with you the lessons learned on our recent remodel project as I introduce you to my new YouTube channel and a revamped Blog and Brand.

Our blog and YouTube channel will be focused on real estate, construction, and investing. We will include remodels, house flipping, construction methods, design trends, along with crypto currency and other investment vehicles.

Along the way I’ll share with you what I’m investing in, how I’m navigating the real estate world, and how I’m applying the principles into my life and my company.

I hope you’ll join me and maybe extract a lesson or two from my experiences.

They say action is the foundation to success. I say action, combined with faith, is the way forward in almost every circumstance.