This is me at one of the many speaking engagements prior to giving a popular talk about creating successful Joint Venture partnerships.
I’ve been a property entrepreneur for over 25 years, and have a passion for helping others achieve their health, wealth and fitness goals.
Now in my fifties, I’m in the best shape of my life, getting fitter and stronger month by month. I can honestly say I’m finally comfortable in my own skin with mental resilience that is best described as spiritual peace.
As I discovered for myself, from this place you are better able to deal with the challenges life throws you.
As Steve Jobs said in his Stanford address (check it out on YouTube) it only makes sense when you look back and connect the dots.
One thing I learned from my journey is you have got to put the hard miles in, there are no shortcuts or quick fixes.
There are however many wrong turns and detours that you can find yourself taking without the right help and guidance. What follows are just a few of mine. For simplicity I tell them as self standing sequential episodes of my life though in practice life does not work that way.
I hope you find insightful and perhaps inspirational.
Pass The Parcel…
If you were there with me in the London offices of a Japanese back in 1997 you would have seen a shell of a man, burnt out from all the commuting to a job that left me unfulfilled with an overriding sense that I was made for more.
Have you ever felt trapped? Stuck in a routine even though it was not your path, desperate for a way out?
My solution to this problem was to buy a franchise with a friend and ex-colleague, we were going into the world of parcel delivery after all this was an age of Ecommerce and parcel volumes were on the increase.
The sole reason for buying a franchise is that you are buying a proven business model with the business support systems to make you successful. Well this is what distinguishes a good franchise from a bad one, and if you’re not careful all you’re doing is buying yourself a job without the benefits.
What we couldn’t have anticipated was the impact of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, with Northern Rock and other financial institutions soon following suit. Seemingly overnight parcel volumes in the UK dropped by over 40% as companies and individuals alike tightened their belts.
Parcel delivery is a high fixed costs business, our competitors in a bid to stay afloat began cutting prices in a race to the bottom to retain market share and cover their costs. To compound matters with such tight margins the more we sold the more money we lost.
It wasn’t always glamorous being the boss either, I found myself doing anything from driving a van to physically cold calling on businesses, and dealing with the numerous service failures we had.
Become A Charity
We hadn’t bought a business, we had bought a charity in all but the legal status! We kept injecting money to prop up the bank account and in turn we were in effect subsidising many of the businesses we served by keeping prices artificially low.
Whatsmore we couldn’t see it for what it was as we were too busy working in the business rather than on it. Less than 18 months later, in a bid to stabilise finances I went back to that job I had hated, and continued to pump funds to prop up the business.
It soon came apparent that this business was never going to turn around, other franchisees in the network were folding and we were heading that way to. Time to start looking for a buyer to save the jobs of the people we employed.
Several months of negotiations with neighbouring regions ensued, we were willing to sell out for a pound and keeping the lights on conservatively cost us a further £40,000! A spat between the national master franchise and the neighbouring franchise led to the sale falling through and us shutting the doors on Christmas Eve.
Snakes and Ladders
All in this experience lost us around £1/2 million between us, not even counting the impact it had on health and our relationships. Like a giant game of snakes of ladders I was back where I was and far worse off financially then when I had started.
Yet I was not the same person as I was back then, I had gained many new skills and valuable lessons along the way. Including how to be present with people, sales and negotiation, insights into what makes people tick and the value of having the appropriate support which would have saved me much much more than it would have cost.
I was ready to tackle a new chapter in my life, and those that worked with me sensed a shift in confidence and presence. I had changed though they had stayed largely the same.
I’ve been interested in property ever since I helped my parents buy their council flat and subsequently rent it out and buy our first home by convincing a friendly bank manager about my potential for increased future earnings.
I built a property portfolio of buy-to-let flats when I saw others doing the same, with no real strategy and a bit of an ego I became what I now refer to in talks as an ‘Accidental Landlord’.
Fortunately for me I bought properties in the right locations, unlike others that weren’t quite so lucky and for years I thought it was because I was somehow superior at strategy,
Making money in property is easy I thought, plug some numbers on a spreadsheet, find the opportunities that fulfilled these criteria, refinance the cash out and as Del Boy would say ‘this time next year Rodney we’ll be millionaires’.
The spreadsheets though can’t tell you what the numbers won’t…
Like the block of apartments in the USA that had high yields but taxes, maintenance costs and defaults lost me tens of thousands.
Or the risks involved with gaining planning on a plot of land, even when paying so called experts to manage the process for you, leading to a lengthy appeals process incurring spiraling costs with the bridge financing breathing down your neck.
With the many knock backs I could have easily turned my back on property, yet it’s a true passion of mine so I persisted and even quit my job as a project manager in the city.
I went to numerous meetups, joined several property networks and found knowledgeable people with specialist experience whose core values resonated with mine from which to learn.
The truth is that those successful in property simply don’t operate like the amateurs, they build powerful teams around them, structure deals and their financing differently and follow strategies that simply aren’t what you see on those popular real estate TV shows.
It took me several years of building my network and acquiring the inside knowledge before I founded the Lighthouse Capital Group. I have given talks on topics ranging from due diligence to creating successful joint venture partnerships.
I also offer paid mentoring for a select few, helping them to avoid the same mistakes I did whilst plugging them into my network.
Yet learning never stops, which is why I continue to be a member of the Trusted Land group, and hang out with other successful people who specialise in other disciplines.
You’ll Never Have A Six Pack…
Just as one area of my life was going from strength to strength, my health was rapidly going downhill. I would get out of breath walking up the stairs, suffered bouts of gout and was pre-diabetic.
That morning the scales registered 120 kg as I leaned forward to peer over my belly. My dad had died from a massive heart attack in his early fifties, I was almost fifty and my thoughts soon turned to my mortality.
Over the years I’d been on many diets, you name it I’ve probably done it. I’d also been a member of a number of gyms, and even went from time to time. So how did it come to this!
I vowed to turn things around like Ebenezer Scrooge in a Christmas Carol given a glimpse of his future on his current path and not liking what he saw. I would get a six pack…
Now I can appreciate that many people make such a statement. Given my t-shirts were struggling to contain my bulging stomach, it is fair to say many dismissed me with laughter when I told them.
This time was different though, I enlisted the help of a Body Transformation Coach and set about making the necessary changes in my life. Not to be confused with your typical personal trainer which typically focuses on the exercise rather than the whole body and mind which is needed to effect lasting change.
At first family and friends mocked me, then they started to try to undermine me and see me fail. Yes you read that right, family and friends tried tempting me with beers and food dripping with fat and loaded with simple carbs.
Yet I persisted with the support of my coach for which I am eternally grateful for. Over time I dropped 50 kg in weight, lost the gut and the gout, reversing the blood sugar and cholesterol problems.
I even made it into Men’s Fitness magazine showing my transformation, and other publications have asked to cover my story. Many people in my network started reaching out to me for help to transform their lives, they didn’t want another coach they kept coming back and asking for me.
It was then I had the epiphany that I wanted to help others transform their lives and businesses as I had. My journey had equipped me with a unique set of skills, from mindset to body transformation, and from sales to business strategy.
I had found my calling, my purpose – it had taken me fifty years to stumble upon it.
Key Learnings From My Journey So Far
Looking back now there are a number of things I wish I had known when I was younger, but will distill it down to just five:
- Find the right coach or mentor for where you are in your journey and where you want to head. Often you will say that you can’t afford it or don’t need them, I did and it cost me a fortune and a lot of time.
- Don’t make decisions out of desperation or by blindly following someone else’s strategy – aka Shiny Penny Syndrome. More often than not it will become something that actually takes you further away from where you want to be.
- Be present with people and try to leave them in a better place. The world is hard enough as it is, be the light you want someone else to be for you.
- Don’t chase money, it is a byproduct of something else. Those that focus on doing the things well that make a difference to and for other people and you will in turn be rewarded.
- You can’t know or do it all, surround yourself with good people that hold the same core values as you do. Make sure that on balance you have fun doing it – life is too short not to.
Ready For A Change?
You’ve heard some of my story, and it’s by no means the end of my journey. If you want your journey to be part of it then lets connect.