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Financial Resources
How To BE A Successful Real Estate Investor
by: Lou Vukas

What do we really want?

To be successful, we need to know what we really want. This involves a vision of our life as we desire it to be. To cite the success coach, Tommy Newberry, “The most successful people in the world are those who have taken the time to figure out exactly who they want to become and what they want to achieve, and then invest the hours of their days in activities consistent with these ideals” (Success Is Not An Accident, Looking Glass Books, 2000, pp. 4-5)

Comparing our life to a building gives us a nice metaphor. Before we construct an edifice, we create a concept and a plan, then produce a blueprint to show how it is to be built. From the blueprint the general contractor knows what steps to take and which projects to work on, the how and when of the job.

Simply put, the architectural concept is like the vision for our life, and the blueprint is like the mission statement that makes the vision reality. With an effective mission statement established, the goals that a person makes are logical and sure to be in accordance with the things that person really desires most.

It has been said that failure comes from sacrificing what you want most for what you want right now. If we lack a clear vision of what we really want, it is hard to make it a reality. Having a clear vision and a firm mission statement helps us to focus on what we want most and avoid those short-term desires that might interfere with what we want most in the long term.

Making progress

We would all likely agree that progress is difficult without some kind of action. If we want to make personal progress, we all have to do something. But many times we don’t know what to do. Often we cannot see ourselves doing what we know we should do. Frequently we feel we need stuff to do it, such as tools, connections, money, etc.

The problem with our thinking here, though, is that it counters the natural order of things. Most people want their progress to move from:


This would tell us that if we have certain things (privileged upbringing, money in the bank, an Ivy League education), then we can do things that will allow us to be something. If we have the money, and we have good contacts, and we have the knowledge of all the great techniques, then we can “do” investing. If we do investing long enough, then – perhaps through public acclaim – we can “be” an investor.

There are two huge problems with this attitude. First of all, if we have to do in order to be, then that puts the locus of control outside ourselves, where we have no control over it. In other words, the decision of whether or not we are a true real estate investor is not up to us, it’s up to other people and situations. Second of all, maybe we don’t have immediate access to the stuff we would have to have in order to do then be. That would forever bar us from being, because without “having” the stuff, we can’t “do,” therefore we can’t “be.”

Not only does that not sound fair, it sounds like it goes contrary to the law of cause and effect.

We feel that a better approach is to simply “be” first. That is within you. You need nobody’s permission. If you lack the stuff right now, you can still be. This is the progression we prefer:


This way, you simply start out being a real estate investor. There are no tests to take, no certification to complete, nobody’s permission to obtain. As soon as you see yourself as a real estate investor, you are one. Better yet, as a bona fide real estate investor, you will just naturally do whatever it is that real estate investors do. Then it will follow as day follows the night that because you do the things that investors do, you will have the things that investors have!

Why would a real estate investor live in a nice house in the best part of town and drive the very kind of car he or she wants most? It is because as a real estate investor, he or she does the right things that provide him or her what she wants. It’s not the other way around. You might put on the uniform of a NFL player, but that doesn’t make you an athlete. You have to be the player first and then make the plays to legitimately have the uniform.

Still, even after you learn to “be,” then go out to do, you are likely to suffer a little anxiety. Maybe you will be reviewing the plot of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” while you go about doing. You can’t see yourself calling yourself an investor. You feel silly.

This is normal. If you didn’t feel a little nervous, you would be an android, not a human. Mark Twain has told us, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.” What matters is not whether you have a sense of fear, rather, how well you control that. To begin with, it may well be that you will have to fake it until you make it. But if you really are an investor in your heart and mind, it isn’t faking it at all, is it? You are simply doing your job.

What is the process of being a real estate investor?

There are three things that should be put into place in order to make this reality. Our desired outcomes (also known as goals) must be based on a clear vision and definite mission statement. Let's look at each element in turn:

1.Vision: what you want most for your life (a dream made real)
2.Mission statement: a description of how you attain your vision
a.Definite statement of exactly what you desire
b.Written in the present tense
c.Measurable (i.e., there is an objective way to determine you have met it)
d.Both performance (doing) and achievement (being) goals.

This all begins when you determine exactly what it is you want most in life. This is not a casual decision. It could determine the whole course of your life's voyage. You only have this life, and it is your most valuable possession. For a happy and successful life, we must be willing to spend the time needed to figure out what our life means. Most people don't. Most people spend less time designing their life than they spend planning a weekend trip. That is why only 5% of the people are truly successful – only 5% of the people are making progressive realization of a worthy goal. You should be in the top 5%, because now you know the importance of taking charge.

Here is another concept to consider: “Everything works, but nothing doesn’t.” In other words, doing nothing accomplishes nothing — especially when it comes to business. You are better off doing something imperfectly than waiting around to get yourself to the level that you can do it perfectly. You can bet that the young Tiger Woods got out on the real golf course as often as possible, while still working out on the driving range.

This means you can go out and make an offer on a house this week, even if you haven’t gotten your business cards printed — even if you’re not entirely sure how to do it.

Now is the time to get going. There is no better time. Things won't get better by themselves-they wait for you to take action. As Shakespeare has Brutus tell Cassius, "There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries." (Julius Caesar) We need to know where our desired destination-harbor is, but we need to set sail and get moving now, while the tide is high, that is, while the opportunity presents itself.

The 10 Commandments
Here are some articles of faith (or 10 Commandments, if you like) of being a successful investor in real estate:

1.Be Impatient! Impatience is a Virtue for investors. Don’t be patient and tolerant about everything in your life without choosing for yourself. Too many people act as though they figure they have forever to make changes. You should never allow others to dictate their own schedule for your life. Success comes to those who are willing to make something happen today and not wait for things to happen. The day you decide to go for it, take action, be an investor and do the business is the day when you can turn your financial fortunes around.

2.Be A Failure: What is it that all Millionaires have in common? Guess what, it’s failure! In fact, success-driven people have many more failures than the average person. Why? Because they know what doesn't work through experience. The difference is, they just keep learning and trying till they get it right. A loser tries once or twice and then resorts to whining and complaining while existing in mediocrity, complacency and obscurity. Show me a winner and I will show you someone who understands that failure is just a stepping stone towards success.

3.Be Smart: We hear so often talk of "nose to the grindstone," "work hard!" "You need to have a good work ethic" and so on. To these statements and ideas, we might ask, "If working hard is the key to success then why isn't a steel worker or a machinist a millionaire?" It is painfully easy to go through all the motions of working hard and still not get ahead financially. In truth, you will see that successful people do have a good work ethic. But they do more than work hard. If a lot of work doesn’t get you to your financial goals, you're no better then a gerbil in a wheel. Working hard is only half the solution. You must work smart enough to get to the place that allows you to achieve the greatness and financial freedom you deserve.

4.Be Happy: Do something that you enjoy everyday and work is never a four letter word. The money is certainly important, but how do you keep the fire within if you dislike what you do for a living. Even if the work you hate pays you a whole lot, that kind of activity leads to burnout. Imagine the sheer joy of lucrative money-making activities that get you up every morning with a special energy knowing you can spend that day doing things that you are passionate about. Life is too short to waste your time making a living without happiness or passion.

5.Be Gutsy: You might want to put a sign on you wall that reads: "The greatest risk in life is not taking one". It's easy to fall into a complacent lifestyle if you accept mediocrity as a standard. Success takes “Guts,” which we define here as fortitude, character and impeccable integrity. You have to take some reasonable risks. It does no good to worry. In fact, we could say that worry is pre-payment for something you don’t even want. If you don’t want it don’t worry about it. Take care of business. Cross the “t's” and dot the “i's,” but don’t wait until there is absolute assurance that things will work out the way you want. It's better to have tried and lost than never to have tried at all. The greatest regrets we have later in life are always the good things we could or should have done but didn’t.

6.Be Hungry: You have got to want it badly; so badly that success is what you think about all the time. Remember the first time you fell in love? You couldn't think of anything else except being with that special person. Being hungry is a focus, a desire, a passion. Learn to use this emotional power of Hunger.

7.Be Teachable: Be willing to learn all the time. It has been said many a time, "school is never over and learning never stops". It has been said that knowledge is power. The quickest way to success is to know more than your competition and be willing to implement that knowledge. Your knowledge of how people think, your understanding of the feelings of a seller or a buyer, you ability to structure deals into a win/win situation for all parties involved will pay dividends for years to come.

8.Be Decisive: Make a decision and stick with it. There are many well educated people with all kinds of degrees who lack the courage to implement all that expensive knowledge. If you have followed the above (Be Teachable), then make a decision to do something with that pricey knowledge. Be Decisive.

9.Be Original: We need more original ideas and thinkers out there. How many times have people had a good idea until someone ridiculed it? Original thought is rare, and being an original thinking is hard. Just look at all the greats in exploration, science, entertainment, the arts, or any other creative endeavor. Your attitude with your own original ideas should be as Napoleon Hill phrased it: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve. In other words, if you can think it and believe it, you can do it.

10.Be Yourself: Shakespeare wrote, "to thine own self be true". You are as good as anyone you have ever envied or admired. Popeye said it best "I y'am what I y'am and that's all that I y'am". Be happy with the person you are. Maybe you would like to have more money and live in a more affluent lifestyle. Maybe you would like to be better loved and have more friends. Perhaps you wish you knew more and could speak or sing or play golf better than you do. That’s good. Without growth and change we atrophy and fossilize. But those are all things you do or have. What you are, your core BEING, is perfect in and of itself. Be happy with it, respect it, and love it. How can you possible love your neighbor as yourself without loving yourself? Be happy with who you are, and you are well on the road to making what you are even better.

Lou Vukas is the author of 8 top-selling Internet courses on real estate investing. His background as a real estate investor spans over 12 years and includes deals covering a wide range of investing, from rehabbing to lease options to preconstruction investing. For more information on real estate investing, go to

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