How much have you spent on training with “gurus,” real estate investing trainers traveling the national circuit? Hopefully less than $20K. Ideally less than $5K. I personally have invested over $100K in guru education and have discovered the advantages and very real disadvantages up close and personal. Let’s talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of guru-centered real estate training.
The Good of Training with Gurus
A few of these guys and gals have decades of experience in the trenches, in the real world. They’ve done deals and fought their way up to super success, often from humble beginnings. They know how to win with real estate. When they teach, it’s from real experience.
And when you do something in the same way as them with the same kind of seller, you will often enjoy very similar success.
More importantly, if you listen between the lines, you can begin to interpret their beliefs, their philosophies, and the advantages and disadvantages they worked with. These are often the things they don’t spend much time talking about that you can learn the greatest lessons from.
For example, if one of those gurus tells you that doing a 120-unit deal is the same as a duplex, that may cause you to think one way. But what if you discover that that very guru didn’t do his first 120-unit deal until he had 20 years of solid experience in real estate? He had built connections with construction crews and administrative teams … and key decision-makers in the city’s land use and permitting departments … and financing. What if, after all this, he STILL had multiple partners on his first few larger deals? You might think another way. Probably a more empowered, realistic way. And the fact is, the gurus often say one thing, but their own experience is completely different. They’re not lying intentionally often. There’s another reason why they say things that seem incompatible with their own experience. Let me explain.
Say you’re out of shape and an Olympic power lifter tells you that picking up a 500 pound barbell and throwing it over your head is easy as long as you do it the right way. Chance are, you’d look at him and think, “Sure it’ll be easy, just as soon as I’ve got all your muscle.” And you will be empowered with a realistic perspective. But if you ignore his muscle and training and team of coaches and just try to pick up that barbell, you will not only be sorely disappointed, you will be sore, and quite possibly injured.
But you can’t see the guru’s “muscles” because they’re between his ears. He doesn’t even consciously see them anymore. He rarely comes on stage with his parents, friends, coaches, and crew. You almost never hear about the biting failures that taught him the lines that could not be crossed, and that motivated him to ever greater effort and success. These are truly great lessons. Not what the gurus do in real estate, but how they got there. How they think, what their support system is, the circumstances and market under which they developed their investing system. Understanding all of these will give you far greater clarity and realism in moving forward.
The Guru Bad
The guru will tell you that his system will work for you wherever you live, because everyone is the same. That’s true, isn’t it? You can drive around your own town and see homeless people, wealthy executives, seniors heading towards senior care homes, and teenagers looking for something to do. Don’t they all want the same things in life, and have the same priorities, and values?
Not even close.
Similarly, not every system works the same way everywhere. Folks in Lafayette, Georgia have very different values and culture than folks in Portland, Oregon, generally speaking. They’ve got different local and regional economies. Their primary employers are from different industries. Their average education and income and cost of living are different. Same goes for New York City, and Seattle, and Wichita, Kansas. They will not respond to the same offers as a group, in the same ways. If you think that the guru’s methods which were developed in a low-house-value area with relatively unsophisticated sellers is going to work as well in the big city with savvy, cosmopolitan types in multi-million dollar homes, you are destined for disappointment, failure, and loss.
Have you ever noticed how different people move through the world differently? There are shy people, and outgoing people. Intellectuals and dullards. Leaders and followers. Now think about every platform-walking guru you’ve heard of. Are you just like any of them? Do you approach people, property, or situations the same way? Do you have the same experience, or support systems? Do you believe the same things about the world or yourselves? Do you have the same friends?
It all makes a difference. And if they don’t tell you that, it’s either because they’re not honest with themselves, or they’re not honest with you.
There’s a very interesting book I might recommend to you called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. In it, he demonstrates very persuasively that people are not successful just because of hard work, courage, and perseverance, although of course those are necessary. Their destinies are intimately tied with who their parents and grandparents are, where they grew up, and what year, and even month they were born. This applies to professional hockey players as much as to software manufacturing billionaires as much as it does to world-class concert musicians and math wizards. It’s a good read and can open your mind in important ways.
One of the biggest myths these gurus will perpetrate – knowingly or unknowingly – is the idea that they did it alone. In reality, one of the most important elements in most successful people’s lives is the presence of a mentor, someone who believed in them and helped them every step of the way for some period of time, usually in the formative years of their professional development. That mentor taught them and encouraged them to leverage their strengths and take action, to celebrate wins and learn from failures … over and over again, until success was a habit.
For those of you going it alone, trying to take “the hero’s journey,” you will discover that the chances for success are small. I’ve learned techniques from gurus, but it was partnering with my mentors for years that made my efforts pay.
So, in summary: guru training is a sword that cuts both ways. Like everything else in life, it has its advantages and disadvantages. Being aware of and planning for both will pay you dividends in saved years of wasted effort and disappointment, and will make your trip less lonely and more enjoyable. Pair personal mentorship with gurus’ training that matches your personality and market and you will have a winning combination that will empower you to create income now, stability for your future, and a lifestyle that will be envied by your peers. Take action and prosper.