My Value-Driven Investor Journey
My Value-Driven Investor journey all began when in college at The University Of Wisconsin Eau Claire renting a little apartment above water street. Renting from a company called “Student Area Housing” who owned what seemed to be the entire student rental market in Eau Claire. My curiosity kept the conversation going… Hmm. Real Estate, Rental Properties… Investing — I wonder how all that works?
Busting my hump, coding business programs for hours and sometimes 24 hours straight to hit deadlines, on a mission to get my Management Information Systems (MIS) degree. I did everything to position myself for success upon graduation. Every summer, for 4 years, I had an internship at a local company. These were all IT internships which taught me a lot about life in IT, computer programming, systems management and most of all teaching myself how to learn.
Nothing about how to become a real estate investor
However, the biggest lesson learned was realizing I was not your typical IT guy. Being an athlete, outspoken at times and a people person — these traits, I realized, were not the typical qualities found in IT veterans whom I worked for. During these summer internships I felt like the ugly duckling…
During my senior year in College having 15 interviews for job offerings, every time the person would say, “That was great Tim… Thanks for coming today, we will be in touch if we think you’re a good fit.” or “Tim you have worked hard and set yourself up well with those internships..” But, every time I left the interview I questioned working for an IT company. Was this really what I wanted to do, was I a good fit? Reflecting on how I didn’t fit in with the others; in this world of IT. Was I really an IT Geek, like everyone keeps calling me….
Waiting, waiting, waiting…. I never once got a call from any of the now 22 job interviews starting at the beginning of my senior year and ending the summer after I graduated college. Questioning myself, “Am I a failure?” I can’t even get a job, what will I tell my parents, this sucks!
Broke, with no IT job, in a field (where I spent countless nights and several 24hr days crunching code) I worked so hard to get a degree… amounted to sitting on my parent’s couch, in my parents basement, with nothing: No job, no money and no purpose. This was one of the lowest moments in my life. Nobody wanted me, Why?
After weeks of feeling sorry for myself, I got up off the couch and said, “You have to get a job” sitting on the couch feeling sorry for yourself will only get you in more trouble with Dad. I knew my time living in “His house” was limited. I’d better get moving or I will be moving out.
That day I started surfing the internet, daydreaming, I lost focus on job hunting and found myself researching real estate. Real estate investing, cash flow, rental housing, apartments… when it happened. A book caught my eye, “Retire Young — Retire Rich.” I can remember saying to myself “That’s Me!!” so I read the back cover and it said, “This book is about how we started with nothing and retired financially free in less than ten years. Find out how you can do the same. If you do not plan on working hard all your life… this book is for you.”
with only $100 to my name, I didn’t hesitate, immediately I bought the book. Thinking to myself, ” I can do that?” reflecting on “Student Area Housing” and thinking, “That guy had to start from nothing.”
Upon dissecting the entire “Retire Young — Retire Rich” book in one sitting I knew something was different about me. This book touched me. It got me thinking about the endless opportunities real estate offered and how you hold the “key” and control the puppet strings. Since I was never one to follow the herd, maybe, just maybe, real estate is where I can determine my own destiny and create a “Life On My Terms.”
Nobody can determine my worth, I will succeed or fail based on “Me” not some manager telling me what to do, how to do it or deciding if I’m worth hiring. Real estate investing will allow me to become financially free, real estate will get me out of the “Rat Race” (the rat race I felt I was in at this exact moment).
How? was the big question. How am I going to start investing in real estate, to get out of the rat race and become financially free? How am I going to tell my parents and my girlfriend, Sarah, I don’t want to pursue MIS because I have a new found passion… What is my Dad going to say about helping me pay for an education, in his eyes, I will never use. Aaahhhh Man this sucks!
Knowing, in my core, this was my calling. I devised a plan to get my real estate license.
Because I knew if I didn’t practice real estate and engross myself in real estate every day, how was I supposed to find deals and invest in something I was not 100% committed to.
So, I broke the story to my Family and Sarah. Here goes nothing… “Everyone, I have decided I am going to get my real estate license and start selling real estate.” The room went silent. My hands began to sweat. My heart was pounding. Everything seemed like it was going in slow motion.
Finally I said, “Say something!!” Sarah spoke up and said, “What about your degree, I watched you work so hard for it?”
My Dad said, “What about all the money we spent on that MIS degree. You’re not even going to use it.” Tim, you could have just skipped college and went straight into real estate if this is what you wanted to do.
“Well, Dad, I didn’t know this is what I wanted to do until I started focusing on it and read the book.” I responded.
After telling them my plan and how I was going to become a real estate agent, make some money (because I was flat broke), learn all I could about real estate investing and finally start investing myself… They all knew I was serious and there was no changing my mind. If I actually did this, failure was not an option especially with all my skeptics.
I will never forget my Dad saying, “Son, if you have your heart set on this I know you will succeed. What boggles my mind… You always told me you never wanted to be a salesman, like me. What do you think real estate is?”
You’re right Dad! I don’t want to be a salesman and that sure as hell isn’t why I am getting into real estate. I see opportunity, an opportunity to be different, to set my own course and determine my own destiny.
Working for “The Man” just isn’t for me Dad. After reading, “Retire Young — Retire Rich” I now know why I never got called back or hired from one of those 22 job interviews.
“Why?” My Dad asked.
“Because I didn’t fit. They could see it in my eyes, they could hear it in my voice and they knew. This kid won’t last 90 days with us… He isn’t the right fit.” I told him.
“Dad, do you remember the time when you were thinking about starting your own printing business?” I asked him.
This is a moment in my life I will never forget. You came home one night, when I was about 15, with a passion I rarely saw when it came to work.
You walked in the door and I knew something was different. That night, you called Mom and I around the table and said, “I have something I need to run past you two.”
You proceeded to tell us about a possible business venture where you would start your own printing company with a few partners. I was so excited for you, I saw how excited and driven you were but, at the same time nervous and maybe even a little scared of the unknown since you had never done this before.
Thinking to myself, “He deserves it!” as a very successful salesman and sales manager my Dad could do anything. He deserved it. He earned it. Like his father before him, who owned a printing company which was sold for, rumor has it.. $15,000,000 in the 70’s. I could see my Dad doing the same thing.
Wow! that would be cool “Dad, you have to do this. This is your shot.” I cheered him on.
I was probably more excited than either of my parents about this opportunity. I envisioned working with Dad in his business and maybe even one day running the business.
The Murphy’s have been in the printing business for 60 years. Both My Grandfathers, my Dad and my uncle all made their mark in printing.. I could follow in their footsteps and do the same.
2 weeks later my father came home and said, “It’s dead” I am not going to start a business.
This is when I remember him listing off all the reasons and thinking to myself, “Excuses, these are just excuses.”
The list: It’s really expensive, I won’t be home much, Insurance, It’s risky… really risky and what about you kids.
At that very moment, I felt let down, I felt like it was his chance, my chance to start something, a legacy for the Murphy family, our family. At the age of 15 I realized my Dad decided he wasn’t an entrepreneur.
At this same moment I realized I was. My Dad’s window of opportunity closed while mine just cracked open.
Like a pinhole of light at the end of a long dark tunnel. I could see… Being an entrepreneur was something for me.
A world where your success and your failures are determined by you. Opportunity is endless as long as you never quit.
At the time I was working a 9–5 job auditing mortgages for a small shop in St. Paul. I started this job because it was related to the field of real estate and I thought I could really learn something which will benefit me on my quest.
Boy, did I ever learn something.
Needing to pass the equivalent of a real estate licensing exam I basically learned everything I needed to become a real estate agent. Hearing the owner’s stories about how he and his partner started in the real estate industry inspired me to want it even more.
Finally, after 6 months of thumbing mortgage paperwork, screaming, crying and pleading to my mom each and every day I came home from work, “Mom, I can’t sit behind a desk like a robot sifting paper, pressing a button to check the box and doing this for 6–8 hours a day. How do people do this for the rest of their life?”
I need more purpose in my life.
Finally, fed up with the “cube job,” I started.
I Committed to getting my real estate license. Knowing once I had my real estate license, I’m done with “The cube job.”