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Where did you get your knowledge?

Discussion in 'General Entrepreneur Discussion' started by Yankees338, Sep 7, 2007.

  1. Yankees338
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    Yankees338 Bronze Contributor

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    Just about everyone here seems to have a very good understanding of at least one aspect of the business world -- especially everyone here who is successful! Experience obviously helps gain knowledge along the way, but where did the initial knowledge come from to get you started? Did you read a book? A series of books? Have a mentor? Learn from a parent? From a job? We all have a great deal of knowledge. If we can all share where we've gotten that knowledge from, somebody else find it useful enough to make a difference in their learning.

    Me personally, I've had an interest in business since I was in elementary school. I used to just enjoy playing with cash registers and money. Then, I began talking to people who owned and ran business and my curiosity, as well as interest, grew. Eventually, at age 14, I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad which shifted my views more towards those of a "B" (business owner) and an "I" (investor). I'm still developing my knowledge, but I'm learning more and more everyday. These forums have been a HUGE help :)thankyousign: MJ!) for me as I'm sure they have been for everyone else.

    Please, share!
     
  2. JScott
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    JScott Legendary Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    I've learned a lot from a lot of different sources (see the summary at the bottom if you don't want to read through all this :)):

    - Business Knowledge: Perhaps unlike a lot of people on this forum, I have a full time job, and have made most of my money "working for the man." And while a lot of people don't like the 9-5 gig, there have been some tremendous advantages to this (for me, at least). Working for some of the biggest technology companies in the world has given me the perspective of how a big, successful company is run and what it takes to become -- and remain -- a big, successful company. It's also given me the opportunity to network with and befriend some very smart and powerful people who will likely prove to be assets later in my business life. Working a job has given me the opportunity to manage very large teams of people (which has been very beneficial when I am managing my own team -- whether that be a business team, a real estate team, or another investing team). Not to mention, I got to sit in a meeting with Bill Gates last week, and get to hear first-hand about his investing discussions with Warren Buffet; working a J-O-B can sometimes have its advantages... :)

    - Negotiating Ability: Again, the full-time job has been very helpful here. Being a senior manager at Microsoft has given me some tremendous opportunities to be involved in negotiations around ridiculous amounts of money, and the formal negotiating training I've been able to get is among the best in the world. When you spend much of your days negotiating as part of your full-time job, it makes the negotiations associated with the mundane aspects of running a business that much easier.

    - Personal Finance: This one was a lot tougher to learn. For several years after college, I lived above my means, and got into (what was at the time) a lot of credit card debt. One day, I just flat-out decided that I was going to do whatever it took to get out of debt and get my financial life in order. I started reading books (this was in the days before blogs), pouring over spreadsheets, and analyzing every detail of my financial life in Quicken. I created a plan to get my spending under control, got a second job to pay off my debts, and started saving whatever I could. It took about 3 years, but I dug myself out of a big hole, and never looked back. Since that time, my salary has increased tremendously, my net worth is quite respectable, and I literally have zero debt (yeah, haven't started the real estate investing yet), but despite that, my spending is nearly the same as it was when I was struggling to get out of debt. Having to bail myself out of the situation I created gave me a new-found appreciation for not living above my means, and also helped me figure out the minimum standard of living necessary for me to be competely happy.

    - Business Strategy: Poker was the best teacher here. I played professional poker part-time for several years, and to be a successful poker player requires (among other things) the ability to understand the motives of the guy across the table and to use that knowledge to quickly play-out scenarios in your head before making a decision. While I'm not a great chess player, the principle is the same -- understand the motives and thought-processes of your "opponent," and exploit that information. It's no different when you're negotiating a business deal, negotiating a real estate deal, or trying to convince that general contractor to work on a Sunday to help you out; understanding the other person's motives is key to winning business strategy.

    - Stock Investing: I've been a fundamental stock trader for several years. I learned how to read financial statements while getting my MBA. In fact, it was the last MBA course I took, as it was the one that taught me that I didn't need a formal learning environment to learn everything I needed to know about business and investing. I dropped out of the MBA program in the middle of my "Financial Accounting" class because I realized I could pick up any college book, read it cover-to-cover, and learn the same material I would be learning by sitting in class, only a LOT faster doing it myself. Once I realized that, I probably read every textbook I otherwise would have had to read as part of my MBA, but it took me about 1/3 the time. This was an important lesson for me -- some of the best resources out there are college textbooks, but that doesn't mean you have to be enrolled to buy and read them. I highly recommend this strategy.

    - Real Estate Investing: I haven't yet bought any investing real estate, but I've spent the past several months reading everything I can get my hands on about REI. A dozen books, hundreds of articles on the web, these forums, etc. And while I don't plan to make my first RE purchase until I head back east next year, I'm hoping by then I'll have read enough to avoid the major pitfalls, and I'll be comfortable jumping right into buying 10-20 unit buildings. In the meantime, I've written my REI business plan, created spreadsheets, and have started talking to lawyers, accountants, brokers, agents, and other RE investors. I've even started looking at multi-unit properties as if I were ready to buy, to get comfortable talking to sellers and learning the process. Essentially, while I'm still a year away from starting to invest in RE, by the time that year is up, it's going to feel like I've been through the process a number of times already. That said, I'm sure there will still be dozens of things I never even considered that will surprise me, but the point is that I'm not wasting time sitting on my hands until the time comes.

    - Starting Businesses: I've started a number of small businesses, and do some angel investing. By far, the best thing I've found to get me comfortable with the early stages of running a business is reading other people's business plans. I highly recommend asking anyone you know who has a business to see their plan. Not only do you start to understand the questions people try to answer before they start a business, but you also learn about the various approaches to starting businesses. Some people really like to focus on the financial aspects; some really like to focus on the marketing aspects; some (like me) really like to focus on the product; by understanding how other people think about a new business teaches you the questions you need to be asking and answering when it's your turn. Additionally, investing in other people's businesses has really helped me learn to ask the hard questions (because it's even less fun losing money in someone else's business than it is losing money in your own business); when you're excited about a new venture, it's easy to ignore nagging details and assume they'll work themselves out, only to find out later that those details should have been red flags earlier on.

    After that long-winded answer, here's a quick summary of suggestions for learning about investing:

    - If you have a full-time job, exploit it. Find situations in the job that will be analogous to situations you'll experience when you have your own business, and learn from them;

    - Learn from difficult situations. If you're in debt, create a plan and follow-through on it. If you have a dead-end job, create a plan to get out of it and into something that will have long-term benefits to your financial (and physical) health. And remember, if you can get from -$50K to even, you can get from even to +$1M. And if you can get from even to +$1M, you can get to $10M and beyond.

    - Play games. Games like poker, chess, monopoly, risk, bridge, etc, all teach critical thinking and strategy. Those traits are easily extended to the business world;

    - You don't have to go to college (or grad school) to learn how to invest. But, you can certainly use the same tools that colleges and grad schools use;

    - If you're not ready to invest right now, that doesn't mean you can't take the first 50 steps towards successful investing. Read, create models, create spreadsheets, talk to lawyers, accountants, and other investors, etc. By the time you are ready, you'll be that much more prepared;

    - If you're interested in starting a business, read lots and lots and lots of business plans from other business owners. Learn to be critical in your questions about the pitfalls of any new business. And write your own business plans, even if you don't plan to use them; one day you will be ready to start a business, and you'll want to know how to think about and write a BP.

    And most of all, take advantage of some of the great investing knowledge available on these forums...I sure have...
     
    Sid23 and MJ DeMarco like this.
  3. andviv
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    andviv Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    In my case it was a combination of reading books (Rich Dad Poor Dad really opened my eyes, but before I had read everything I could about retirement, pension plans, stock market, suze orman, Dave Ramsey, etc) and then starting talking to people.

    I then started lurking in RichDad.com's forum and that made me realize there was more to be done.

    Then experience kicked in when I started doing. I basically dived in head first into the waters of RE and got hooked. It seemed natural. When moving up I joined a local REI group and paid $1K for a course in REI.

    So in summary, reading, asking questions, networking, and DOING is how I learned what I know now. I think I've learned the most when I made big mistakes.
     
  4. Starsky
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    Starsky New Contributor

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    My early experiences come from watching my father conduct business. He ran a cpl business's and owned a cpl pieces of real estate..

    After i "grew" up a little bit, my first book that opened my eyes up a little was Wealth without Risk- Charles Givens.. Then of course RDPD years later after that. After i got serious about making changes, google became my best friend with research
     
  5. piranha526
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    piranha526 Contributor

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    The markets: original interest from my father. Knowledge base from reading (IBD, books). Study the market, Actual experience: trading for 10 years, study the market, study the market, study my trades. The most important: Study ME!

    Business: original interest from father (he owned restaurants). The rest from reading and doing. Most recent: I created an equity research business from thin air and a small investment. It returned 38 times the original investment in two years. I am now working on the next venture.

    Real Estate: Not my strong point but I am starting to learn (I do own property but I am not an investor).
     
  6. nomadjanet
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    nomadjanet Contributor

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    What knowledge?:banana:

    Grew up super poor. Dad died when I was 4, mom had 8 kids & was a stay at home mom. Learned early, poor bad. Was always expected to be an adult, had to call bill collectors & beg for time by the time I was 12, by the time I was 8 years old could run the house because mom worked 2 jobs or more all my life. Married young, to a hard core workaholic. We always thougth we could do anything (this was a delusion caused from living in Texas where it is very hot) :smxB:. Had two kids then went back to college; changed my major several times never found a fit. Decided that there was no decent day care in neighborhood, I can do that! Had antoher kid. Operated day care for 4 years, decided to go into real estate. Sold day care to my assitant at the time. Got real estate license and used it mostly to invest for us. At the same time my DH decided since I was no longer running a daycare, he wanted the opportunity to start his own business. I said, OK we can do that. We jumped in with both feet & worked ourselves to death for a long time (made lots of money but worked wayyyy to hard). Finally joined industry best practices group and started refining the things we were already doing so we could delegate to others and not have to work so hard. All along still jumping into other business ventures and real estate ventures, still suffering under the delusion we can do anything. So far the delusion has been great, if we every figure out we are two under educated, over motivated people we may stop making money & having fun.:smxD:
     
  7. tchandy
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    tchandy Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    My mom made me pen a bank account when I was in the 1st grade so I learned about saving early on.
    Grew up and saw my parents go through some hard times. They lost their house when I was 11.
    Started working when I was 12 and tried not to rely on my mom to buy me things.
    Continued working through junior high and high school and college.
    Got mentorship from my boss when I first got my job to start investing.
    Started with mutual funds and lost a good portion through the Asian crisis in the late
    1990s.
    Started real estate investing after living in a condo for six months.
    Bought another home to use as a rental. Learned a lot from both when there were no renters and a late renter. Learned that you really do need to have a money to cover your mortgage for the loss of rent because it can happen to anybody. Luckily I did.
    Read through several books on Real Estate and investing.
    Forced myself to watch CNBC everyday because before I thought it was all numbers and confusion but wanted to learn about the market.
    Taught some young people I work with about investing. This only reinforces what you do know and what you don't know.

    Tom
     
  8. Sid23
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    Sid23 Bronze Contributor

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    JScott, great post. Very informative!

    rep speed ++
     
  9. Yankees338
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    Yankees338 Bronze Contributor

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    First of all, great post JScott.

    Now onto you, tchandy...I agree with you 100%. Being 16, most of my friends are clueless about the world of business, real estate, and investing in general. When I happen to catch a moment where one of them is interested in discussing one of the aforementioned topics, I pounce on the opportunity to talk. Teaching definitely helps one learn; it reinforces the basic points you often overlook. One thing I find extremely beneficial is the fact that often when people learn, they have questions. Many times, those questions are ones you don't think of yourself. Answering them not only benefits the person asking, but yourself as well. Having to think about these things yourself and come up with an answer on your own further enforces that you know what you're teaching. It's definitely a great way to learn.
     
  10. EasyMoney_in_NC
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    EasyMoney_in_NC Contributor

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    For me, aside from knowing that RE would be a good thing to be in, especially while cheaper than I had been used to seeing (lived in Ca.). I was a RE sales agent for a few years and worked for a long time development family office. The son (broker in charge) as well as the rest of the family was big in investing, so I picked up tidbits from them. He pretty much spelled out (over time) what it took to build and finance (as well as the refi plans) rental homes. He finally talked me into getting my GC's license (I felt to sell me lots the office developed and listed) and after a few years of trying other aspects of construction, I finally decided to try building rentals. I sort of all hit me at once one day, and having just come back from a Cali trip in an attempt to maybe move back, my wife and I sold a couple of house we had kept as rentals after having lived in them, 1031'd the money into the first 3 new homes and the rest was history. I learned how to manipulate the system and milk it for all it was worth. I found lenders, appraisers etc that would work with what I needed and didn't stop for 5-6 years.
    Land was cheap, materials fluctuated but still allowed the #'s to work. Rates got cheaper on both sides of the financing needs........the planets could not have lined up better for the time I was doing it. Robert K's RDPD did give me an extra bit of punch I was in need of, and really taught me to use the "pay yourself first" mantra.
    The party in my area is pretty much over for doing what I did, so it time to concentrate on other business ventures for me, and protecting what I have amassed.
    I would have done so much more had I known earlier what the payoff was, and had the money and nerve to push harder :)
     
  11. AroundTheWorld
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    AroundTheWorld Be in the Moment Speedway Pass

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    Hey MJ.... I'd love to hear your answer on this.

    Where did you get your knowledge about internet biz?
     
  12. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Admin Post
    First, JScott, great post, very informative and detailed ...Speed+++

    My knowledge came from self-teaching -- books purchased from Barnes and Noble or borrowed from the library. To this day, most of my education comes from 2 sources: 1) Books and 2) Internet.

    One of my "sh*t-jobs" I had years ago (and I had many) was a security guard and it had lots of downtime -- instead of doing nothing, I read ... book after book ... and taught myself programming.

    As JScott says alludes to above, you CAN have a college/MBA education without the expense -- simply go buy the textbook. Enroll in online seminars. Visit internet forums that are highly specialized in your chosen craft.

    In a democratic society we have the power of unlimited knowledge awaiting us -- books, the internet, the library -- all there for our consumption and the beauty is, its FREE or LOW COST.

    Dollar for dollar, the internet and books/textbooks is the best education out there. The trick is, recognizing it, and having the discipline to use it.
     
  13. M-M
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    M-M New Contributor

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    I'm starting to learn programming myself and there's a wealth of free information out there, like this forum for example. http://forums.digitalpoint.com/ (might've been pointed out to me by someone on here, I don't remember.)
    Same goes for writing. A month ago I ordered $50 worth of books from Amazon that will provide me with a lot of useful information.
    I've also learned a lot from the "Instant ..." series by Bradley Sugars.

    And last, but not least, I learned from listening to successful individuals. That's really the best place, especially in person.
     
  14. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    Admin Post
    Probably Andrew! :thumbsup:
     
  15. M-M
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    M-M New Contributor

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    Right. Let's give credit where credit is due.
     
  16. Runum
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    Runum Platinum Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    I got what I know so far from books, internet, and other knowledgable people like on this forum. I still ask questions from RE professionals. For me knowledge is on going. It's not a destination but a great journey and it never ends.:cheers:

    Greg
     
  17. A-GAME
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    A-GAME New Contributor

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    im no multi millionaire......yet......but i would say everyones different and you should gather as much information from as many different sources as possible...real life experience along with as many good books,internet articles and audio books you can get your hands on...become a sponge and constantly soak up information even when your just shopping at the mall.....
     

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