When people start talking about greatness, there’s always something a little surreal about it. Greatness is for athletes and activists and the type of people that others make documentaries about. Greatness is a characteristic that’s sometimes difficult to see applied to yourself (if you’re the humble type) in that larger-than-life kind of way.
You see these big names, these legends in your field—role models you look up to and aspire to be—but do you truly believe you can be like them someday? Can you be as influential, as inspirational, as aspirational?
We have role models and mentors in real estate investment. That’s just how it is. To be clear, I am not talking about the social media hypers who post 17 memes a day about winning, being a winner, being a ninja legend, greatest of all time with bikinis, boats, planes, and trains! Those are neither role models nor mentors nor legends.
But here’s the thing a lot of us have trouble believing: You have the potential to have influence, to be a mentor. Will you have legions of followers reading your blog and hanging on every word of your Twitter feed?
Probably not. And if you do, that kind of presence takes years to build and comes with responsibility to not let it go to your head.
But what you can have is respect—and a greatness that comes with wisdom and a stellar reputation.
10 Keys to Building a Legendary Reputation in Real Estate Investment
1. Be kind.
There’s a quote by Maya Angelou that just seems to ring more true as the years go by:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
One of the first things we learn as kids is to play nice—to share. But being kind is more than just playing nice. It has more to do with genuinely caring about other people. It’s investing in them! As real estate investors, our business is deeply people-based. How we treat the people around us is paramount to our success. In this business, trust us: Even when you don’t want to take the high road, even when you don’t want to let go, even when you don’t want to be kind, do all of those things.
It’s not a big playing field, and no one wants to play with the guy who looks like the jerk, even if that guy was completely justified in the action that made him look like a jerk. Being kind always trumps being a jerk or burning a bridge. Even if you have to part ways, you can do it amicably.
2. Master your niche.
Another saying? The jack of all trades is the master of none. Be a master. Hone in on your niche and completely master it. Be the undisputed champion. Be the person who talks about your area of real estate investment and causes everyone to stop and listen.
It’ll take time to get that experience under your belt—but that kind of mastery is so worth it, not just for your bank account, but for the wealth of knowledge that you can pass on. Stay humble and remember that it take time. Nothing is worse than someone who wants to tout their achievements after completing two flips. Hold up and spend a little more time figuring out your niche.
3. Stay humble.
The best mentors know what they know and admit what they don’t. Stay humble. There will always be things that you still don’t know! Other investors will know more than you do in other areas. Lean into their wisdom. Listen. Pay your dues while you’re still learning—and even when you’ve spent 20 or 30 years in the business.
Humility is one of the best qualities you can have, period—not just for public opinion’s sake, but because it prevents hubris, which prevents us from making stupid mistakes. Stay humble and seek to educate first. Learn to educate in your niche from a point of humility, and your legend will be on its way.
4. Never stop learning.
Hand-in-hand with humility is realizing that you always have more to learn. No matter how long you’ve been in the real estate investment game or how old you are, keep pushing your education forward. Keep learning more because there’s always more to learn.
This is one of the best lessons I have ever been taught by my own mentors. The world changes quickly. Never think you know it all, and never discount others and what you might be able to learn from them. Spend your time with your eyes and ears open, and you just may be amazed at what you learn.
5. Find your own mentors.
One way to keep learning is to sit at the feet of the investors and experts you trust most. Not only do you get to lean on their wisdom, but you can learn from their character, too. They’re your mentors for a reason, remember. If you want to learn from and emulate them, there’s a reason. Surround yourself with people you want to be like. The company you keep matters. You will become the six real estate investing mentors your surround yourself with.
6. Make genuine connections.
Network, network, network! So many investors neglect this key step on their journey. Building up professional connections is key not only to generating leads, but to crafting a network that creates the support and structure your business needs in a way that’s mutually beneficial for everyone. That does not mean pass out business cards and then stand in the corner nor does it mean constantly e-blast and blink-copy every business card you have ever been given. Take time to try and make genuine connections.
7. Go above and beyond.
The best real estate investors have something in common: They all go above and beyond. You’ll never find a legendary real estate investor who settles for second rate. They all value excellence—in their services, in their properties, in their deals, in their effort, in everything. Be prepared to make some sacrifices if you want to be that investor. Along those lines, be prepared to give first when you are thinking of going above and beyond. Give before you ask and always give at a level that astounds the person on the other end.
8. Value the details.
Speaking of effort, another way to ensure your status as legend in real estate is to simply pay attention and value the little things—details. Do you make sure to remember things like names? Dates? Thank you notes? Do you follow up? Remember to make good on your word, even if it wasn’t an explicit promise or deal. People pay attention to those little details that add up to a whole lot of integrity. Don’t neglect those little things that don’t necessarily make a direct impact on you business but make a big impression nonetheless.
9. Own your mistakes.
A huge part of your reputation hinges on how you deal with failure and mistakes. Are you the type to pass the buck (and the blame) on to someone else? Do you mope and complain and deny your responsibility in mistakes and mishaps? Or do you own up to it and take charge of the situation? Think about it. The way you deal with the worst of what real estate investing throws at you says a lot to your colleagues.
10. Keep pushing forward.
In the face of difficulties, the best thing you can do for your reputation is to keep going. It won’t be easy, but when you show perseverance and the will to carry on, it says a lot about you. Many of the best investors you will find today, those who may truly be legendary, are the ones who persevered through the toughest real estate climate any of us can remember. They put their heads down and went to work—not after the crisis, but through the crisis. They kept pushing forward; they took hard meetings, made tough phone calls, and continued to believe they would succeed. These are the true legends of real estate, and their example of finding a way should be one you seek to emulate.
What habits have you chosen to adopt based on those you admire most?