This Was a Terrible Year in Many Ways, But if You are a Scholar or Investor There are Many Reasons It Was Actually a Good Year

My 2020 Gratitude List

When the year 2020 started I was looking forward to several new consulting projects, the development of a course offering for the residential real estate investing I had just completed — in fact, I finished a huge 1031 exchange at the end of January 2020.

Then, during a visit to the San Francisco Bay Area to meet the manager of a client company to negotiate if he needed more support going into the new year, I heard in the hotel on TV that the initial signs of COVID 19 being a relatively contained virus in China was no longer true, numbers of infected people in America were rapidly increasing in Oregon and the Seattle area and things were looking bad in California as well.

I wasn’t really concerned for myself, checked that the meetings with the client in downtown San Francisco were still happening as planned — and they were. All looked normal.

For the second half of the week, I would take BART to get to the other side of the bay and stay in the Oakland area for two meetings with potential clients — an energy company and an organizational change services company. I had been in touch with both of them for some time in 2019 and finally could get all the meetings coordinated into one trip.

While registering into my second hotel for that week, I received a message from the Org change company that their CEO had announced that all meetings were canceled, all employees to work from remote and they had rescheduled our meeting to a zoom call the following week. I was still wondering if that was an overreaction?

My second meeting happened as planned the next day, and when I got back to my hotel, I was happy to realize that I had a few hours to spare in the beautiful spring sunshine, so I got back to the book I was reading. It’s called: What would the Rockefeller’s do? by Garett Gunderson — very recommendable, by the way.

In hindsight, I was glad that I didn’t watch the news on TV that night.

The next morning I took an Uber to the airport, flew home, took a Lyft from the airport to our house, and was greeted with open arms and an unusually long hug by my wife. She said: “I am so glad you made it back”.

I have been traveling for the last 30 years, and she had always been ok with it. What was the deal? When I asked she said: “Didn’t you hear the news?”

I had no idea, but what later became clear is that I was on one of the very last flights out of Oakland to San Diego. Literally the next day the state of California shut down and I would have been stuck in the Bay Area.

Facing this new situation, next came detailed studies of the rules and what was included in the CARES act. Two things happened simultaneously in the next few days:

  1. I received email after email letting me know that they had put ongoing projects on hold. Some, that were in the contracting phase had been suspended. They put the two projects that me had traveled to San Francisco on hold.
  2. I realized that I now had time I never thought would be available to me to develop the mentoring and educational programs for our residential real estate investing approach. This included content people had previously asked me to offer, but I had so much other work that I just couldn’t see a way to put it all together.

Fast forward to a few days before Thanksgiving 2020 and here is what I am grateful for and hope some of these same things apply to you when you think back:

Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash
  • Most importantly, I am grateful for my time. I know it is the most important resource any of us has, and in this special case, the time that COVID provided to develop our Ideal Wealth Grower program is a wonderful gift.
  • I am grateful for my team. For the consulting work we are doing as well as for the new IWG department, I am super-grateful of each and every team member. Thanks to Sarah, Saqip, Anthony, Nadine, Abi, Nico, Mynah, Yashika, Rekhaa, Rick, Wendy, and my wife, Heidi, who made sure we always had enough funds to do what we do.
  • I am grateful for all the podcast hosts who allowed me to be a guest on their shows — so much so we now have a media section on our website.
  • I am grateful for the teachers at my schools and universities who taught me to always learn all the details about the rules and law and then apply them. Because of that, we were successful in every application of EIDL, PPP, SBA, etc., etc.
  • I am grateful to all our tenants who see the houses we lease to them as their homes and kept paying the rent, probably sometimes in challenging months.
  • I am grateful that the drought of suspended, postponed, and delayed projects broke in August and we now have more clients and projects than what I ever thought possible when this year started.
  • I am grateful for all the relationships and connections we could maintain, and most times add new ones. I know it’s not yet time for new year’s resolutions but with the start of our newsletter and a few other activities I am planning; I am already pledged to get much better in cherishing and deepening the relationships in our networks.
  • Finally, I am grateful for people who have expressed in word or writing what I am thinking but am not always finding the right way to express. I love it when the connections to explanation and arguments can be made using definitions or long accepted constructs. That has been accomplished in this article.

My wife and I have now lived in America for a little over 25 years and we have seen a lot of change. Many of the things that have changed haven’t influenced us much, and we recognized them but didn’t really take any action. As many people who know me have heard, I often say that the one “superpower” I have is the ability to see the big picture, frequently before other people can see it. With that in mind, we have seen a lot of things change or get expanded that never seemed possible. Coming from Europe it always surprised us how many important actions in America are guided by norms and expectations and traditions, rather than firm rules or laws and policies. I think a tipping point was reached, probably around 2015 and these norms and expectations and traditions are now victimized, leading to an uncertain future.

When it comes to our primary focus of helping people help themselves become successful by learning how to invest into high performing residential real estate, we have every reason to look into 2021 with optimism.

Interest rates have never been lower, housing prices keep rising as demand is way behind supply, and rents are stable or slightly increasing.

Photo by Avi Waxman on Unsplash

On top of all that, we have seen the start of a trend into areas away from densely populated cities and into communities that still provide all the amenities but allow for better balance between quality of life and cost. Guess what — that’s exactly where we invest and encourage everybody who is working with us or asks for advice to invest as well.

Yes, it was a weird year, but there is plenty to be thankful for and I hope you all take a few minutes to reflect. Black Friday has been pretty much cancelled, so take advantage of the time to count your blessings.

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