I’ve had my share of disappointments and failures; a litany of missteps and bad decisions mark a dozen pivotal chapters.
But I’ve had some very real successes, too, and many of them thanks to my mentors.
Each time I’ve meandered off course, generous people have come forward to coach and guide me back to my path.
The first was my dad — a man with an adventurous spirit who built a meaningful life anchored in ethics and hard work.
He was (and is) a tremendous role model.
Others have entered and left my life, each sharing valuable lessons about work, love, life and money.
He’s a #1 best-selling author and one of Australia’s most awarded property investment advisors.
He’s a man I respect for his evidence-based advice and admire for rejecting populist ideas in favour of proven results.
I began reading Michael’s investment advice about a decade ago, and have since become a client and a beneficiary of his rock-solid wisdom.
Michael’s perspective on real estate investment changed my life, and it brought the clarity and purpose I’d lacked for so many years.
Had I been privy to his advice much earlier, I’d have certainly avoided many of the mistakes that cost me so dearly.
The ONE THING that, more than anything else, will impact where you go, how high you go, and how you get there, is the people you surround yourself with.
I remember our first conversation in his Brighton office.
I asked how long it would take, based on my balance sheet, to become financially free.
He didn’t hesitate. “Probably 10-12 years.”
He then explained further.
“For most people, the first five years tend to involve making lots of mistakes. You’ve made a few, so luckily, you’ve gotten that out of the way already. The next five are spent fixing those mistakes, and that’s what you must do after you leave here today. The last five is where you’re doing the right things and you’re building your cash machine. That’s when it all comes together.”
Had Michael said, “I’ll get you there in the next five years,” I’d have been excited, but sceptical.
And this is what I’ve always loved about him — he has never succumbed to hyperbole or the latest GRQ (get rich quick) tactic.
Investing should be boring…
Like Buffett, he subscribes to the notion that good investments are boring; they’re not something you play with.
You front-load the work – the research, selection, financing, acquisition and enhancement/redevelopment.
And then you sit tight until you have enough equity to go again.
You don’t tinker, you don’t speculate, and you don’t second-guess the process.
Some peddle more exciting (i.e. high-risk/speculative) ideas like single-industry towns (e.g. mining), options contracts and flipping.
Fads come and go, but principles don’t change.
Strategies evolve and markets do shift over time (driven by demographics, immigration and other factors), but changes occur slowly, and only require refinement of the investment process — not flip-flopping.
Michael’s strategies draw from principles honed through decades of experience and multiple property cycles.
He knows his stuff and he’s seen it all.
He invests the way you imagine old money invests — with prudence, patience and a firm grasp on all the levers available.
Just today, I read something by Benjamin Hardy that stuck with me.
Ben recommends acting on insights immediately — particularly where key people are involved.
He says that as soon an idea related to someone you know pops up, you reach out to them.
I’ve often done this, and I believe it explains why I’ve benefitted so much from mentors over the years, including Michael.
Every time I’ve called or emailed Michael with an idea or an issue, he’s been there for me – sometimes immediately, but always within 24 hours.
I recently asked Michael to answer some personal questions.
Here are his answers:
Michael’s Advice on Midlife
Do you consider yourself middle-aged, and how do you feel about this moniker?
I’ve recently turned 65, so I guess I’m coming up to middle age — but I know the best is yet to come.
Do you believe middle age (say, 40-65) is different today than it was for your parents? If so, how?
My parents seemed so old when they were 65, and they just didn’t seem to understand anything — I wondered how they could be so out of touch.
My father couldn’t comprehend how you could watch one channel on TV and record another (there were only four channels then) on the VCR.
Like many other Australians, my parents were looking forward to their retirement so they could travel and do the things they’d to put off to give my sister and me a better life than they’d had as European migrants.
I know I’ve enjoyed my life, living it to the full along the way and recognising that if I didn’t enjoy the journey, I wouldn’t enjoy the destination.
Did you suffer a midlife crisis? How did it show up for you and what helped you to overcome it?
I grew up in a poor household, and from an early age knew I wanted to be rich.
I was in a hurry to succeed professionally and financially.
I was looking for financial security – something my parents didn’t have.
Looking back, I guess my quest for security was driven by my insecurity.
I was in a hurry; I was driven…driven by a need to prove myself to my father, and later in life, to my first father in law. To prove myself to the world.
But as I got more money and professional success, my feeling of “not being enough” didn’t disappear.
It’s fashionable today to call this “imposter syndrome.”
This led to me sabotaging my life.
I ruined my first marriage and hurt people along the way, something I very much regret.
This mid-life crisis meant I had to start all over again in many areas of my life.
I had to prove myself again to those who’d stood by me and supported me.
But this time around, I realised I had to take responsibility for my actions and not be a victim — to not blame my father for my unpleasant childhood, nor blame others.
I was where I was in life because of all the things I had chosen to do and all the things I had chosen not to do.
Once I took responsibility for my life, things turned around.
What book would you recommend to a person over 40 who wants to reinvent their life, and why?
To reinvent oneself one needs to think differently — it’s never too late for personal development. In fact, what turned my life around was when I heard the late Jim Rohn say: “I used to say I sure hope things will change. Then I learned the only way things were going to change for me was when I change.”
So I started devouring some of the classic works of Jim Rohn — books, audios and videos that have not dated with time.
Another great book to read is The Success Principles by Jack Canfield.
I’d also highly recommend a book I authored with Tom Corley – Rich Habits Poor Habits – www.RichHabitsPoorHabits.com.
What advice would you give to a mid-lifer who believes they’re stuck on a certain path and should just accept it?
I would remind them of another Jim Rohn quote: “If you don’t like how things are, change them. You’re not a tree…”
All successful investors, business people and entrepreneurs have failed more often than unsuccessful people.
They became a success at failing. And they’ve survived until they became lucky and thrived.
What this shows me is that success is a process and a big part of that process is persistence.
You never get lucky if you quit. You get lucky when you persist. Luck is the reward for persistence.
Fact is, those who try the hardest are the luckiest. Or, more accurately, they simply never stopped trying to succeed and their persistence eventually created good luck.
So never quit on your dream. Luck does not visit quitters.
Michael has enjoyed tremendous success, and while his advice might seem familiar to some of us, we shouldn’t receive it lightly.
These are the key takeaways for me:
- If you want your life you change, YOU must change. In other words, the person you are – the one that got you here – won’t get you there.
- Setting ‘happiness’ as a goal for sometime in the future is a fool’s errand. You must enjoy the journey because that is the real goal. You’ll never ‘arrive.’
- Luck plays a part in our success, but it only manifests for those who persist. Luck is our reward for pushing through the necessary failures. There is no luck without failure.
Something I’ve learned over the last twenty years, and especially in the last three, is the importance of mentor selection.
Today, most of us are products of social media and the Web.
Not metaphorically, but literally.
In the old days, it was the TV and maybe the local church.
Now, our attention is monitored, analysed and sold to marketers every minute.
Bullsh*t artists with big mouths and promises that are too good to believe flood our feeds and inboxes.
And sometimes, it’s easy to buy into what they’re selling.
This is the real danger — taking your cues from untrusted sources automatically, instead of by deliberate, intelligent choice.
The ONE THING, more than anything else, that will impact where you go, how high you go, and how you get there, is the people you surround yourself with.
You cannot succeed if you surround yourself with small thinkers, doubters and armchair experts.
Likewise, you’ll only spin your wheels if you aspire to greatness but can’t apply yourself consistently to doing the work and failing a few times.
Following luxury brands and humble-braggers on Instagram won’t buy you the freedom and success you crave.
Finding quality mentors, whose trust and friendship you want to earn, will.
Like I said earlier, the person who got you here won’t get you there.
That statement refers to you, but it applies to your peers and influencers, too.
Choose them wisely.
Then make them proud.
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