From my earliest days I remember thinking and planning on ways to make money. When I was in the second grade I came up with a plan to gather apples from nearby orchards and set up a roadside stand along California’s Highway 101 in Cloverdale. I enlisted my brother’s help and together we set to work with dollar signs dancing in our heads. Unfortunately we didn’t sell any apples that day and if I remember correctly, we took the apples to our mother who made apple sauce out of our stock.
The fact that I had failed didn’t seem to bother me. I kept thinking and planning. In a comic book I found a coupon advertising a business opportunity, mailed it in, and I started my very own door-to-door greeting card sales company. As you might imagine, it wasn’t much of a company but nevertheless I knocked on our neighbor’s doors and talked to our friends and sold boxes of greeting cards. Mother was probably my best customer.
I began to see the advantage of repeat customers and started a TV Guide sales route which ran on Saturdays. I would receive my weekly allotment of TV Guides and hit the sales route. When I was 12 years old I hit the big time. I had a paper route that paid big bucks - a penny a paper to deliver the Fresno Bee in Sanger, California!
I seemed destined to a life of marketing and sales – which is quite interesting when you know the “rest of the story” as Paul Harvey has said many times. From early childhood I had a speech impediment. I stuttered. My problem made talking difficult and understanding what I was saying almost impossible at times. My “disability” was very, very bad. I entered speech therapy in the first grade and although I continued with it for many years it didn’t help. Finally, when I was a freshman in high school I pulled the plug on speech therapy.
As a result of my speech problem I was often the brunt of jokes. I was called names and made fun of by my peers. In high school I might be walking down a hall and someone would say, “Stutterin Don, how’s it going?” Adults tolerated me and often tried to finish my sentences when I couldn’t get the words out – much to my frustration and annoyance
In 1967 I tried to enlist in the Army but I was rejected because my speech impediment was so severe. This was during the height of the Viet Nam War and they were taking almost every young man with a normally beating heart. I was classified 1-Y, just one step above the worst classification – 4-F.
Soon after my Army rejection I married my wife, Becky, and we had a large church wedding. I didn’t want to repeat my vows because I didn’t want everyone hearing me make a mess of things. However, since the vows are the central part of a wedding ceremony I couldn’t avoid saying them. When it was my turn to repeat our vows, I just mumbled some sounds so the preacher could hear something.
As hard as my speech impediment was to endure, I determined not to let it, or other people’s reaction to it, stand in the way of my dreams. I decided I was in charge of my life, not those who poked fun or ridiculed me. My success, if any, was up to me.
In 1970 my dream was to “get rich, ” or at least my version of it. I contacted the brother-in-law of a friend of mine who had a direct sales company selling fire alarms “door to door. ” My friend told me about all the money his bother-in-law was making and I knew he drove a new El Dorado, wore great cloths, had a nice house, and owned a lot of real estate. That was right down my alley.
I wrote him a letter expressing my desire to go to work for him. I wrote rather than call because I didn’t want him to know of my speech impediment. He later told me he already knew about my speech impediment and hired me as a result of it. He said the fact that I wanted to succeed overrode any “handicap” I had. I believed him, took some sales training (principles I still use today), and started knocking on doors.
Picture the scene: an awkward looking 130 pound kid who can barely communicate is knocking on cold doors trying to get the person inside to purchase an expensive product. Looking back, I must have been laughable.
Today it’s very difficult to tell that I ever had a speech problem. I cannot put my finger on any one thing that was the genesis of my transformation but today I speak frequently and persuasively to all sizes of groups. I own several companies which enjoy incomes in the millions of dollars. I lead a very successful real estate investment club and ran for a seat on our County Commission as well as a run at the State Senate.
The story is not that I had a speech problem. The story is I had a speech problem, so what? The fact is, all of us have a “handicap. ” Some handicaps can be seen. But the most destructive handicaps are those that can not be seen – the mental stumbling blocks that lead to mediocrity and failure.
One of the greatest hitters in baseball history is Mickey Mantle. Mickey is remembered as a great home run slugger, but did you know he struck out more than 1,750 times? In addition, he walked to first base more than 1,750 times. In other words, there were more than 3,500 times he went to home plate and didn’t hit the ball. That is the equivalent of seven full seasons he never had a base hit!
Here’s the lesson in the form of a question: If you never get up to bat, how are you going to hit a home run? Furthermore, it’s not the misses that count, it’s the hits. Learn from your misses but focus on your hits.
But, there’s more! Although Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record, the “Babe” still has some interesting stats. One is the best percentage of home runs per ‘at bat. ” Every eleventh time Babe Ruth came to the plate he hit a home run. How many of you feel good going 1 for 11? We often think we have to bat 1000. We expect to hit 100 for 100.
If you are a major league baseball player and had a batting average of .300 you would be paid several million dollars each year. Think about that! That’s 30 for 100, or 3 for 10. The fact is, very few professional baseball players enjoy a batting average that high yet you think you have to hit 1,000.
One mindset of the successful is that they have a positive expectancy of success and they are tenacious with their goal setting and planning. I think the important thing to these individuals is the effort they expend and the journey they take. If you never go to bat, or if you never get in the ball game, you will never get a hit.
You have choice. You can live life on purpose, or you can live it by chance. It’s up to you. Get in the batter’s box and strike out a few times. It’s okay. Never fear failure. When I make a mistake (that goes without saying) I increase my awareness and improve my performance. I refuse to relegate my disappointment and failure to the back of the bus and purposefully move them up front where I can deal with them, work out the kinks, make adjustments and get back on track toward success. I turn my mistakes into stepping stones toward my goal. I figure if didn’t make a mistake yesterday, I didn’t learn much.
Success or failure is up to you. If you want to be a success and overcome the invisible handicaps that are detrimental to that success, you need to know that you can do it if you think you can. I overcame a “handicap” that could have stopped a speeding train. You can too.
Here’s how you can do it.
1. Decide what it is you want to do and carve out a niche for yourself
If you try to be all things to all people the deck is stacked against you. You have to find a unique position for you.
2. Set measurable goals
You need both long term and short term measurable goals. Write these goals out on paper. Until you write them down, they simply do not exist.
3. Define how you will attain those goals
After you write down your goals, determine how you will achieve them. Write a step-by-step plan. Create a road map that clearly defines how you are going to reach are your destination.
4. Work your plan.
As you do the daily activity it takes to accomplish your goals, focus on the daily activity rather than the goal. I your goal is to purchase one rehab property each month focus on the activity that will result in that one purchase.
5. Make adjustments as needed.
You will make mistakes and experience failure from time to time. When this happens, do some soul-searching. Determine where you went wrong and readjust your approach but do not allow yourself to become distracted from achieving your goals.
6. As you work your plan, start thinking about ways to give to others
If you cannot give away your money, it owns you. If you do not give yourself and your money to others, you will become self-focused and shallow. Contentment will always elude you.
7. Be a mentor to others
There are millions of people who would like to be where you are. Take one or two along for the ride with you. Teach them what you have learned.
The question you are now faced with is crucial. What are you going to do with this information? Will you be inspired to get in the batter’s box and take a swing? Or, will you sit in the bleachers and play the role of a spectator? It’s up to you. My advise is the swing away. Strike out, make some adjustment, and enjoy the ride. Life can be a thrilling experience. Wouldn’t you like to enjoy it?
Don Loyd has been active in Central Oregon Real Estate for more than 37 years as a Real Estate Agent/Broker, Investor, Developer, General Contractor, and Corporate Marketing Vice President.
Don's resume includes teaching under-graduate and through post-graduate course work. He serves as President of the Oregon Association of Professional Real Estate Investors and Executive Director of Northwest Real Estate Institute.
Don is also an investment mentor and group leader of Central Oregon Real Estate Investment Club. Meeting weekly, the group learns the nuts and bolts of sound, safe real estate investing and receives encouragement in their investment career.
He’s authored four books: My New Reality Journal,
Marketing and Selling Your Home – A Practical Guide for FSBOs, Earn Amazing Money – Think Your Way to Riches, and Creating Wealth for Women.
Don’s articles appear on several web sites and he is a contributing real estate investment writer for Cascade Business News.
Don may be contacted through http://www.OAPREI.com