By Gino Blefari
This week my travels found me in Washington, D.C. to attend the 2016 Housing Policy and Hispanic Lending Conference held by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP).
This week my travels found me in Washington, D.C. to attend the 2016 Housing Policy and Hispanic Lending Conference held by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP). During the conference, I had the honor of speaking on a panel moderated by 2016 NAHREP President Elect Leo Pareja, and spoke along with Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, and Geoff Lewis, president of RE/MAX about best practices in real estate. During the panel, I discussed the “NAHREP 10,” principles put forth by the organization to allow its members to succeed. It just so happens that these guidelines are very close to my own philosophies and practices that I’ve used and embraced throughout my entire career:
- Have a mature understanding of wealth and prosperity because the one with the most toys usually loses.
My take: When I was a brand-new agent, I went to a seminar held by famed entrepreneur Jim Rohn. The class was called, “Seven Steps to Financial Independence,” and of all the brilliant things said during that session, one thing Jim said stuck out in my mind: “When your out-go exceeds your income, your upkeep becomes your downfall.”
- Be in the top 10% of your profession because being good is not good enough.
My take: The real estate business is not for the weak-willed or faint of heart. It’s for those of us who get sick to our stomach if we’re not in the top 10% of any competitive activity.
- Live below your means and be ready for the next recession because downturns are a regular part of our economic cycles.
My take: For 25 years, I not only lived below my means and readied myself for a recession but also encouraged my business partners and agents to do the same. That’s why when the economic crisis of 2008 hit and 40,000 of 80,000 real estate companies went out of business, we were able to keep our company afloat.
- Minimize debt because it is the biggest enemy.
My take: Build and maintain a strong financial model in the best of times and it’ll get you through the worst.
- Invest at least 20% of your income in real estate and stocks because they are the best and safest ways to build wealth.
My take: Here’s what worked for me when I was self-employed: I put 20% into my SEP IRA, 30% into an account to pay taxes with and 10% into a savings account. Of course I’m not offering you financial or investment advice; I leave that up to you and your own advisors. But for more information on investing strategies, I suggest you read two of my favorite financial books: The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason and Money: Master the Game by Tony Robbins.
- Know your net worth including the value of your business because you can’t improve what you can’t measure.
My take: Early in my career I studied the biographies of highly successful people, including John D. Rockefeller. From my studies, I learned that Rockefeller knew to the penny what his net worth was at all times. I have a simple accounting program and every Friday I run a tax report where I see every single account, asset and liability I have so I know where I stand every week.
- Be politically savvy because public policy matters.
My take: This is exactly why I attended NAHREP. Public policy took the spotlight at this conference, through events like the White House Briefing, the keynote luncheon (with keynote speaker U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro,) as well as in panels and presentations with NAHREP Co-Founder Gary Acosta, Jerry Ascencio, chairman of NAHREP, Joe Nery, 2016 NAHREP president and Teresa Palacios Smith, outgoing president of NAHREP and VP at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties. During her tenure as NAHREP President, Teresa worked to provide much-needed advocacy and education for agents nationwide, explaining the importance of the Hispanic community for the future of homeownership and how best to serve the booming Hispanic market.
- Be physically fit because wealth without health is meaningless.
My take: I couldn’t agree more. When you work out you release feel-good hormones like dopamine and increase levels of serotonin, a chemical responsible for happiness. Exercise also reduces your cortisol level, a hormone produced by your body under stress.
- Be generous with people who are less fortunate because philanthropy feeds your heart and spirit and gives more purpose to your work.
My take: I learned this early in my career from author Brian Tracy who reminded me of the universal law that you can’t get until you give. So don’t use the excuse “when I become more successful, I’ll start to give.” It’s just like a wood-burning stove; you can’t get the heat out unless you first put the wood in. Adopt a charity today. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, our official charity is the Sunshine Kids, a wonderful organization dedicated to providing positive activities for children with cancer.
- Be active in the lives of your family and children because familia is central to who we are.
My take: This one comes down to schedule and accountability. Contrary to what some may believe, accountability affords freedom. Every year before Dec. 15, I sit down and schedule out my entire year ahead. Do you know the first thing I put into my schedule? Time with family.
So, what’s the message? The “NAHREP 10” is more than just a list of best practices; it’s a playbook we should all follow to lead successful businesses and lives.