Dean had severe dyslexia and couldn’t read. Grew up in a trailer park. Got forgotten in school. People said he wouldn’t amount to anything. He didn’t go to college.
“I didn’t have any money,” he said. “But I loved fixing things. Building things. I wanted to follow my passion.”
Now he’s worth $50 million, and he told me how he did it.
First, I want to say, I spent 12 years of my life with no other goal than to MAKE MONEY. Those were the worst years of my life. I had fake friends, I was miserable. Every time I made money, I lost it.
I just hated my life. If I have any regret, it’s that I didn’t stick to what I loved. We only have one life. I honestly feel like I wasted 12 years of mine.
I kind of hate Dean right now also. Because he seemed to skip those 12 years.
“I knocked on a million doors, got a lot of rejections. I guess I learned how to handle rejection at an early age,” Dean said.
“Why were you knocking on doors? What were you asking for?”
“I was trying to find someone who’d sell me a house with no money down. It was ridiculous to most people, until I found Mary Lopresti.”
Mary sold Dean his first house. And he paid $0 for it.
“She was a great, old Italian lady. I befriended her and after a month of pasta dinners on Sunday at her house, I found out what she wanted. And we made a deal.”
“What did she want?”
“She wanted a little bit more money for the house than anyone was willing to pay. Because before her husband passed, he said, ‘This is the price. Don’t sell it for $1 cheaper.’”
She wanted $125,000.
Everyone was offering her $90,000.
“When I found out her price, I could structure a deal around it.”
He paid her $2,000 a month. She moved to Florida. Dean redid the place, got a mortgage on it and paid her in full.
“I was supposed to pay her off in five years. I paid her in a year and a half. She’s sent me a Christmas card every year since. And that was my first deal.”
All of the “smart” people passed on Mary Lopresti’s house.
She wanted too much. So they moved on.
“I was young and dumb,” Dean said. “But we all need to go back to that sometimes.
“Then I bought the next house. And the next house. Now I have over 100 buildings.
“But…” he said to me, “I get it that you don’t want to buy a home. Most homebuyers make a mistake. They put all their money in one investment without having an unfair advantage.
“To buy a house, find out the houses in probate. The ones where someone died and the kids live far away and will take any offer. Or if a couple is going through a divorce. Or tax trouble. All of this is public info.
“It’s amazing to me how people don’t try to get an unfair advantage. They buy at top dollar at the top of the market.
“You can only make money if you have an UNFAIR ADVANTAGE. Else, everyone would be doing it.”
What is an unfair advantage?
- You are passionate about something.
- You put in the extra work to find where the opportunities are. Without obsession, you won’t be able to do this.
- You figure out how to scale the method of finding your unfair advantage. This is the key to monetizing your passion.
- You go meta on your passion.
- You repeat and repeat and repeat with as many passions as you want.
So Dean made money from real estate. NOW HE JUST TAUGHT ME HOW TO DO IT. And he’s taught many others. But I want to do it. I’m not passionate about real estate.
And just because Dean sort of changed my mind about buying real estate… that’s not the reason I hate him.
Dean told me something interesting.
“I know people in almost every industry who get this unfair advantage, no matter what they are interested in.
“I know a woman who has eczema and runs an online course on how to cure it. She makes $200,000 a year. I know someone who collects toys from the 1800s. I know someone who is into sports and monetizes it using an unfair advantage. I know someone who designed their own t-shirts and made a killing.”
On an on.
“So now I want to help others do it. Like I did it. Like so many people I know have done it.”
It reminds me of Matt Berry, an early podcast guest. He was a Hollywood screenwriter and hated it when he was told to rewrite Crocodile Dundee, Part III.
He quit. He got divorced. He lost everything.
He loved sports. But he wasn’t an athlete. He started blogging for $100 a post about fantasy sports. And then he started an online community around fantasy sports.
And now he’s the only anchor in the world on fantasy sports for ESPN. When I walk with him in the street, many people stop him to say thanks. I’m jealous.
“I created a link for your listeners to check it out on the podcast,” he told me.
“Tell them to go to JamesKBB.com by February 26,” he said.
I’m forcing my daughters to do this.
Message to my daughters:
Go to http://JamesKBB.com (or listen to my podcast).
- Figure out your passion
- Find an unfair advantage to make money
- Scale it by teaching other people how to do it
- Then scale that by sharing all your knowledge
- Make $100 million a year (like Dean, whom I no longer hate).
If you haven’t found your unfair advantage in your passion, you’re competing against someone else who has.
James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of JD Mason.