As you move forward on your journey to FI as a young real estate investor, I’d like to take a moment and talk about two virtues: Honesty and Humility. I believe this topic is of equal importance, if not greater importance, than anything else you learn on your path to becoming a FI Freak.
The Importance of Honesty
“Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.”James E. Faust
As with all life endeavors, honesty will be vital in your success as a young real estate investor and reaching your early financial independence goal. On your journey, you will be meeting and networking with other people. Some may be young like you, and others will be older and more experienced. No matter who you are communicating with, it is always best to be honest in every interaction.
There will be times when you may feel inadequate or inferior to the people you are communicating with in your pursuit of FI. There will likely be impulses to embellish your qualifications, experience, or knowledge. I strongly urge you to fight that impulse. Don’t try to appear to be more than you are. For instance, if someone asks you how long you’ve been learning about early financial independence, give them an honest answer. Don’t embellish to make yourself seem more legitimate or knowledgeable. Furthermore, if you don’t know about a strategy or concept, don’t be afraid to admit it.
I’ve seen several young FI enthusiasts embellish different aspects of their stories. It only serves to hurt them in the long run. For instance, I once was approached by a young real estate investor. He was 21 years old. He wanted to partner on some deals with me. He said he owned two properties already and needed to partner with someone to grow his portfolio. Later, I found out that he didn’t own any properties and was instead really in need of a mentor and partner to help him get started with his first investment property. I did not work with him. If he lied about his current standing, what else would he lie about? The sad part is, if he had been 100% honest in the beginning, I would have mentored him and helped him buy that first property.
If you choose real estate as one of your investment methods, there are other relationships where honesty is imperative. You will be working with real estate agents, property managers, lenders and banks, contractors, and others. They obviously prefer to work with honest people. You need to have complete transparency when dealing with everyone if you want to have long-term success. And, yes, this still applies even if they are not always honest with you.
Honesty is also crucial with your mentor. You need to be truthful about what you know and don’t know, about your strengths and weaknesses, and about what you can bring to the table for them. A healthy mentor/mentee relationship is a two-way street. Don’t promise what you cannot deliver.
It will be in your best interest to be honest in all your endeavors throughout your FI journey and to become a young real estate investor. You will be building long-term relationships to help you in the future and bring you the best results. You want to establish a reputation for being upfront and truthful. This is the FI Freak way to do things.
The Importance of Humility
“With pride, there are many curses. With humility, there come many blessings.”Ezra Taft Benson
Along with the impulse to embellish or give false information is the urge to brag or boast about what you know, what you’ve accomplished, or even your financial standing. Again, this will not serve your best interest. Now, don’t take this the wrong way. It is absolutely okay to let people know your goals and aspirations and to tell them how you plan to get there. But there is a humble way to communicate that information, and there is an arrogant way to do it.
For example, if you were speaking with a friend, you might say to them, “I’m currently working on my financial situation to hopefully reach financial independence sooner rather than later. If you ever want to know more about what I’m doing, I’d be happy to tell you about it.”
Rather than saying, “The way most people manage their financial future is all wrong. Most people have no idea what they’re doing. I’m learning about the best way to do it, and you should listen to me if you ever want to be financially independent.”
I have a general rule for myself when speaking to friends and family about my FI endeavors, side hustles, frugal savings rate, or real estate investment activity. I answer any question they have, but the question needs to be asked. In other words, if I’m at a BBQ at a friend’s house, I don’t just start talking about FI strategies. They know that I am implementing FI strategies, like real estate investing, to increase my net worth and financial standing. Since they know, I leave it up to them to ask how those things are going. And if they do, I tell them. If they don’t ask, I don’t bring it up as they are likely not interested.
Now, I do surround myself with other friends who are all on board with the early FI movement. And when we’re together, we talk for hours about FI strategies. You are learning how to meet and build relationships with those types of people. But for now, if you want to meet young people just like you, then engage with the SheeksFreaks community!
Also, no matter who you are conversing with, remember you do not know everything there is to know. It is not your job to convince others that you are an expert on everything FI-related. Part of humility is knowing that you always have more to learn. Even people who have been engaging in FI strategies for decades continuously learn new things. So how could a young person know it all? It’s not possible.
Another rule I have for myself is always to try to learn something from everyone I meet on my FI journey. Many of the people I meet and interact with are young aspiring FI Freaks just like you. They are as young as 14. But I still can learn from those younger and less experienced teenagers, and I do.
If you enter a conversation to prove yourself to those you’re talking to, you will always come across as arrogant and cocky. This approach will not serve you well. It’s a much better play to enter the conversation with a mindset of, “What might I learn from this person?” You don’t have to be the most knowledgeable person in the room. And here’s a little secret, you never will be. And that’s okay. Talk less and learn more. It is more than okay to ask questions and to ask for help.
Finally, it will be in your best interest to know your long-term goals and how they may differ from others’ goals. I spend a lot of time learning about real estate investing as it’s one of my passions and happens to be a fantastic way to grow one’s net worth. My wife and I know our goals when it comes to real estate. We want to own about 15 to 20 units, and that’s it. We have done the math for our financial situation, and we know that that is the number of properties that will propel us to our goal of early retirement.
However, I watch and listen to so many real estate investors who are too caught up in impressing others instead of humbly seeking their own goals. For example, let’s say I met someone at a real estate investor meeting, and within the first two minutes of chatting, they said, “I own X number of properties. How many do you own?”
That tells me that they need a nice dose of humility. Are they investing in real estate to tell everyone how successful they are or to have the freedom to pursue a “higher-level Why”? I’m guessing the former, unfortunately. Regrettably, I have met dozens of people who would ask this type of question as soon as they meet someone. It’s better to be humble than to try to force people to respect you.
And, on a side note, when looking for people to learn from and grow with, I would not choose someone who’s out to prove their worth. Find humble investors, mentors, and friends and stick with them.
You will meet many people on your journey as a young real estate investor and on your path to early financial independence. Some you will meet in person, and some you may meet virtually. You will also get to know others as you hear their story on a podcast or read their blog post article. Make sure you are careful about who you learn from and with whom you surround yourself. Not everyone pursuing FI is a worthy colleague.
Oh, and one more thing, make sure you are someone that others will want to know and learn with as well. Honesty and humility are attractive attributes and will help you build your optimum network.