Sunday, May 10, 2015

Specialist Opportunist Case Study One, Becoming A Rich-Uncles Advisor

How I Went from Being an Investor to an Advisor of Nexregen REIT I

I had no business “getting in good” with three wealthy Commercial Real Estate experts:

CBRE Chairman, Ray Wirta,
Principal, Broker, and expert REIT Manager, Harold Hofer, and
Successful Real Estate Entrepreneur and Businessman, Howard Makler

but I did just that.  And how exactly does a person with no real estate industry experience become an active, contributing member of a REIT’s establishment and development?  I’m not an agent, a broker, a lender, an underwriter, an appraiser, etc.  The only experience, per se, I have with real estate I gained from buying five houses and selling one during my lifetime.  Everything else I know about real estate I learned in books and seminars.

With respect to knowledge about REITs, I only had a handle on the ins-and-outs of equity REITs whose shares trade in the stock market.  I conveyed my knowledge of equity REITs when I first engaged Howard Makler, now President of, over Facebook comments back in late 2013.  Howard was single-handedly attempting to promote and grow the popularity of the Rich-Uncles brand, as well as sell the investment.  Apparently my working knowledge of equity REITs, plus my ability to talk the talk on investments, was enough to make an impression on him.  Eight years of reading and studying every money-making and financial concept (evolving into a Specialis Opportunist) on my own time had finally paid off.  I chronicled my journey from a Rich-Uncles investor to brand Advisor/Ambassador on my blog.  Below are the posts, copied so you can learn from my experience and fully internalize the importance of making yourself into a Specialist Opportunist.

Monday, September 8, 2014

When Blogging Gets Real: How Your Blog Can Pay

The “side-hustle” should be a footnote on everyone’s resume.  It makes the person seem dynamic and resourceful.  The “day job” on the other hand, has come to be something we just do to keep ourselves financially afloat.  The meat of a resume is a list of bona fide employment experiences, but the tasty seasoning in my estimation, are the experiences people acquire with their side ventures.
Technology makes businesses increasingly adaptive, allowing them to innovate today at breakneck speeds.  Whereas innovation is the lifeblood of a company, it is the death certificate of a specialized worker.  Laying off workers in departments prone to software automation (human resources, IT, sales, legal consulting, e.g.) has come to be the norm in today’s labor market.  For many people the “side-hustle” becomes their “second act,” forced into a business of their own as a result of an unfortunate career (this author’s least favorite word) set-back.   

I’ve been fortunate to have steady employment the past ten years, working as a high school assistant principal in southern California.  I’ve been investing in equities (stock picking) and real estate (buying rentals) since I made my move out of the classroom and into an administrator’s office.  I taught myself how to invest by reading extensively, and by virtue of making plenty of mistakes.  About two years ago, I decided that investing as a singular money-making activity, was insufficient in stimulating me and in deepening my retirement pockets.
My ability to write well became the focal point of my initial “side-hustle” brainstorming sessions.  There are skills we all have that we can monetize given the right amount of creativity.  Entrepreneurs alike many companies, have turned to blogging in an effort to promote and market themselves.  In fact, I’d say that blogging or employing a blogger is tantamount to keeping costs down and shareholders happy.  One company doing just that, hiring me to blog for them is the crowd funding REIT,  Based out of Newport Beach, CA, Rich-Uncles is the brainchild of none other than CBRE Group, Inc., Chairman, Ray Wirta.  Ray’s associates and Rich-Uncles co-founders, Harold Hofer (founder of the Nexregen REIT) and Howard Makler (founder of Excess Space Retail Services, Inc.) complete this impressive trio of commercial real estate experts.

What started for me as a way to market my e-Books online and engage a like-minded audience, has strategically turned into a mutual beneficial relationship.  I am compensated every month to cover newsworthy events, merge financial literacy posts into opportunities to promote Rich-Uncles, and assist with writing short but powerful emails to investors on their database.  For company leaders, hiring a blogger whose knowledge of your industry compliments their writing prowess, it may be a good idea to consider a partnership.  For bloggers, opportunities abound to make connections with business leaders.  Start by growing your blogging audience.  Blog about topics that may perk the attention of a small company CEO, and of course, keep thinking of ways you can grow that “side-hustle.”

Monday, October 13, 2014
From Book to Blog to Customer: My Business Story

Common Core Money Blog

If you're bored by now, this is where things get a bit more interesting.  The idea for a blog, CCM blog, came to me during a discussion with Howard Makler, Co-Founder of Rich-Uncles.  Howie and I connected via Facebook, believe it or not.  His R-Us' Facebook ad reached my iPad screen and I posted a comment.  A comment soon turned into an opportunity for me.  I talk about this on my eBook, namely, how a platform like FB has allowed the mainstream access to people one would never come in contact with, and how (given the right players involved) these points of contact often turn into opportunities, mutually benefitting ones at that! 

The partnership:  Howie agreed to mentor me, and make me a part of the Rich-Uncles family in some yet to be determined way at that time.  My role, after becoming one of Nexregen REIT I's (R-U is the brand) earliest investors, was to help with prospective investors.  Investors called me (Howie gave them my number) and I would share with them why I invested.  Of course this meant I had to know my stuff.  I couldn't just wing it.  Why did Howie ask me to get involved?  I had a unique skillset, being able to translate in two languages (Spanish and English) the language of investing to the layman, the beginning/novice investor.  That's exactly what R-U needed at the time.  Lucky for me, I was at the right place (on FB) at the right time.  If you look at some of the earlier CCM blog posts, you will see that some were written exclusively in Spanish.  That's because I was attempting to prove a hypothesis at that time that Latinos do invest!  Several of the "leads" Howie handed me back then were Spanish speaking individuals just begging basically, to get someone on the other line that could connect with them, and take the time to explain the R-U investment.


One lead in particular Howie and I still talk about today that has reached R-U lore is that of Benedicto X (last name withheld for privacy), the Ice Cream Man.  Benny, as I know him today, somehow correctly completed the R-U online Investor Profile.  Why correctly?  The man doesn't speak a lick of English.  His email read: "u call me. speakin espanish?"  Benedicto lives somewhere in inner city Los Angeles.  We had his address on our database and could Google map his surroundings.  I give Howie lots of credit because he could've ignored the lead.  There were hundreds coming in weekly, too many for Howie to pursue alone.  One evening he asked me to give Benedicto a call.  Howie was not optimistic the lead would pan out, but his open mindedness allowed him at least to pass it on to me.

Benny answered the phone from inside his vehicle.  His ice cream truck!  As we spoke I could hear the voices of children coming up to his window asking for Pink Panther ice cream pops, Jolly Rancher snow cones, Sour Cherry cups, etc.  I'm not lying!  Benny shared with me that he has been a self-employed individual since arriving in the U.S. from Mexico.  He owns his own ice cream business, a mechanic shop he leases out, and other investment property.  That someone could own so much without knowing the language, so to speak, did not surprise me.  In Los Angeles, pretty much everyone speaks Spanish!  Bankers, real estate agents, brokers, the Koreans in Korea Town, you name it.  They can all find a way to make a deal when it comes to business.  IF ONLY INVESTING INSTITUTIONS GAVE THESE PEOPLE THE ATTENTION THEY DESERVE.  Benny had $40K sitting in the bank, earning him nothing.  Glad I was there to help him out.


There have been many prospective Rich-Uncles investors that have contacted Howie and said those words to him: "I read about it on a blog."  I must have done a good job of it, writing a review of R-U as an investment for the masses.  CCM blog, therefore, was acting as a means by which R-U could market itself cheaply to others via this blogging platform that I created.  CCM blog allowed me to prove myself as an advertising agent to any company, and solidify my standing within R-U.  I did not anticipate that my top posts thus far would be those associated with my review of R-U and their activities.  Obviously now I am glad that they remain very popular.  I cannot give myself the entire pat on the back, however.  The R-U investment is popular in CA and no doubt people are out there looking for any credible information they can gather to make a more informed decision about investing or not.  See, most companies already have their own blogs.  I find most of them to be quite boring.  They are dry, too technical for most people, and even a nerd like me has to push hard to read a post to its end.  Wanna know why some (there are some good ones out there) investment product company blogs lack the formula they need to be effective, being unable to bring the interested investor back to the site?  The posts are written to cater to a small audience, the sophisticated investor!  Companies figure sophisticated investors are the ones with all of the money.  They neglect to connect with the under-appreciated market that is the novice/small investor, believing the pool of cash is shallow.  Sure, when you consider that most of the wealth in this country is owned by just 10% of its inhabitants, it's hard to veer off the path of putting any of your advertising budgets to go after anyone else.  Their loss.

CCM blog has both morphed and diverged since its inception in March of 2014.  Haven't you noticed the latest features?  CCM blog was my springboard into two new roles for Rich-Uncles, that of an "ambassador" to new investors and as the company's blogger.  Nice, huh?  A few months ago I began a transition of making this blog into what I originally wanted it to be, a site where good, hard-working people could go to get some financial literacy and a recommended investment idea.  But that wasn't enough, not for me.

Common Core Money: The Customer

Starting a business without an actual product or service is challenging.  There is nothing in plain sight.  Everything is a moving target.  The customer is an apparition that materializes and vanishes just when you think your proton gun's beam has it locked in.  Who you gonna call?  No, they can't help you with this.

My website, Common Core where my beta version company currently resides, is a hodgepodge of services mostly.  And that's okay for now.  I'm not shoveling all of my life savings into an unproven concept.  Here is where most entrepreneurs go wrong.  They operate with an incorrect hypothesis:  If I create this company, offering a particular service or product, then I will see a demand.  Wrong!  Your hypothesis should be the other way around:  If I create a customer with a particular demand, then I will offer a service or product to meet that demand, and turn it into a company.  I doesn't make any sense.  But that's exactly how it should be if you plan on building something successful from the ground up.  That's what I am laboring to do.  It's exciting work.  Wish me luck.

(End of Blog Posts)

I am still “employed” by Rich-Uncles to this day.  I am paid 100 shares a month, a $1,000 value, to write an occasional blog post for their website (I’m their blogger), to blog about them (marketing/brand promotion) on my personal blog, CCM, and to respond to investors who call or email me for more information on the investment.  I am no longer calling leads or writing email content.  Howard has had to hire five more salespeople since the days when it was just he and me.  The brand has really taken off.

Final Points:

  • The key to being a great Specialist Opportunist is not just knowing about Business, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Investing, and so on, but also having skills (like writing, coding, e-commerce, website, etc.) that can help you put that knowledge to work in the service of the wealthy, i.e., those with money or equity to pay you.

  • Being dumb on all matters except what you do for a living is just plain dumb in the 21st Century.  You have to at minimum learn about business, finance, AND investing.  Take it one step further and learn about entrepreneurship.  What?  You don’t have the time?  Hogwash!  

I will leave you with how Jon Morrow, CEO of Boost Blog Traffic, LLC in, How to be smart in a world of dumb bloggers, suggests you become “smart.”  This powerful lesson and secret to his success extends beyond the world of blogging.  In a way, this blog post supports both of the personas I’ve described, the GO and SO, and I was delighted to have made the connection.  Read it!

How to be Smart in a World of Dumb Bloggers
Thanks for reading!

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