“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”
– Jiddu Krishnamurti
Many people finish their formal education and think that is the end. Lifelong learners finish their formal education and realize it is just the beginning. Your ability to seek out and learn new skills, ideas, and concepts will give you a competitive advantage your entire life.
Entrepreneurship and active alternative investing requires that you have a solid base of skills and knowledge to do well. I am an unbelievable advocate for lifelong learning, reading, learning new skills, and personal development. I don’t think there is anything you can invest in that will give you a greater rate of return.
If you want to assemble excellent investments that bring in double and even triple-digit returns and build a career on entrepreneurship, you will need to make personal development a regular part of your life. Trust me when I tell you that doing so will give you a competitive advantage few people will be able to match.
So, you might be asking what a good plan for personal development is? I can’t give you a definite answer on this because everyone starts from different places and has their own background and talents, but here is a basic plan that I have used over the years with success:
Reading is a cornerstone of lifelong learning. I have been a voracious reader since childhood. I read on average 2 hours per day, every day. Consuming books on business, finance, entrepreneurship, and related topics is the easiest and most cost-effective place to start your plan on personal development. You should constantly be building a private library and add reading to your daily activities. At last count, I had over 3,500 physical books in my library and half as many on my Kindle and Audible accounts. Implement these steps:
- Build a Library: If you don’t have a library, start one. If you do, begin systematically adding to it. If you have gaps in a topic area, add two books in that topic area and use Amazon reviews to guide your choices. I have various books listed in posts throughout the site, so feel free to include those as well. Wealthy people have extensive libraries, and while I can’t say I have done an exhaustive worldwide survey, I can say that of the wealthy people I know, this is true.
- Consistent Daily Reading: Having books is nice, but they don’t do you any good if you don’t read them. I recommend doing 60 minutes of reading first thing in the morning every day. You are the freshest at this time and likely to remember what you read. If you wait until the end of the day, family time gets interrupted, and you are probably tired and unfocused. If an hour is too much then work up to it and just do 30 minutes to start, but be consistent. Do it every day. Make it a habit, and it will change your life for the better.
- Take Notes & Highlight: Reading a book is good, but studying it is better. Take notes and keep a highlighter handy, and don’t be afraid to use it. I have pages of notes for each book I am reading and several highlights and sticky tabs on pages with good stuff. I review these from time to time. Most people need to be exposed to ideas more than once to have it become part of their knowledge base. I find reviewing my reading notes and highlights brings back ideas I read but forgot. The review over time solidifies that information.
I take several online classes from a variety of sources and is an easy thing to add to your lifelong learning plan. It is a relatively fast and easy way to learn new skills, software, and topics of interest. There are a ton of online platforms that you can access. Below I just outlined the ones I know best and have personally used, but feel free to check out any others you find and like the content offering. The platforms vary in cost, and the courses come in a variety of different lengths. Here are some to get you started:
- LinkedIn Learning: This used to be called Lynda.com and, when it first started, focused primarily on software training. LinkedIn, a subsidiary of Microsoft, now owns it. The focus is still software, but there are many other courses, including marketing, sales, finance, accounting, management, and of course, software/technology. Membership is approximately $350 per year, but here is a secret, many public libraries subscribe to LinkedIn Learning and provide the top tier membership level for the cost of a library card. Check with your public library before you decide to purchase. I access this on my computer from my office via the public library website for no cost. It is hard to beat free.
- SkillShare: This is like LinkedIn Learning but includes classes in many areas outside of business. I can often find niche class topics on here that I can’t find on LinkedIn Learning, but not all of them are great. Some are very short, and some have instructors that aren’t that good, but SkillShare is a good site overall. I believe it is around $100 per year for a complete access plan, but I couldn’t find a pricing page as I was writing this, and my renewals are automatic, so I don’t recall the exact price.
- Udemy: This is an excellent site for very specialized training that I don’t see on other platforms very often. I can find classes on copywriting, building landing pages, starting affiliate sites, cryptocurrency investing, etc. You purchase courses as you want them, much like buying a book. If you find classes you like, wait for a sale. Never pay full price. Udemy routinely has 90% off sales where you can get a one- or two-hour class for $10 bucks or so. Again, not all of them are great; some instructors are just average. Check the reviews before buying a class. If you buy a class for $10 bucks and the reviews are decent, it is hard to go wrong.
- MOOC: This started years ago where colleges were putting their content online for free. At one time, you could go through the entire MBA program at Harvard if you wanted. They would even give you a certificate of completion. Now practically every university and college across the globe offers free online classes. Most of them are not college classes per se; they are much shorter but still an excellent way to get great information. Most of them are free but will offer a certificate if you pay a fee. I typically don’t do this because I am just learning for myself and not for a job or license, but you could if you wanted. Check out Class Central to get started.
If you want to earn more than you do today you need to BE more than you are today
OK, I know this one is a cheap filler suggestion. Everyone on earth has used YouTube, but too many people use it as a form of entertainment. I have found some good educational content on there. I have several subscriptions to channels on business, technology, and economics. Some people are putting out great material for free. The joke is you can teach yourself anything with YouTube! Don’t overlook the value of something that has been around forever. Here are some channel suggestions to get you started:
- BiggerPockets: This is all about real estate investing, and there is a ton of great information on here for just about any real estate investing you would want to do.
- Mark J. Kohler: I have mentioned Mark in other posts. He is an attorney, CPA, and published author. He works with small business owners, self-directed investment accounts, and real estate investing.
- Clint Coons: Clint is an attorney that specializes in asset protection for small businesses and investors. Sooner or later, you will learn that we live in a litigious society, and people sue companies and investors with alarming regularity. It would help if you protected the businesses and investments you build. Clint is one of the best in the industry and offers excellent stuff for real estate investors. It will be one of the few times in your business or investing life where getting advice from a lawyer that doesn’t cost you money 🙂
- Anderson Business Advisors: Clint Coons mentioned above, is a senior partner in Anderson Business Advisors. Their channel offers a lot of excellent asset protection and tax advice. I have learned things on this channel that I haven’t seen anywhere else put as clearly or as succinctly as they do it.
- The Rich Dad Channel: This is by Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad. I have a little bit of a love-hate relationship with him. I find his philosophical ideas on business and investing to be pretty good generally, but sometimes his specific suggestions and advice irk me in a bad way. Check it out and make your own judgment. I still think it will be worth your time.
- The Rebel Capitalist: A great channel to learn about economics in an interesting way that will give you the straight information you need to be a better entrepreneur and investor. He talks about stuff I haven’t seen anywhere else and puts it in a way that it very understandable.
- Dawn Rickabaugh: She is a real estate and note investor, primarily a note investor. She offers a ton of great content on her channel about this fantastic area of alternative investing. I highly recommend her material.
OK, sorry, another cheap filler suggestion, but maybe this will come as a new suggestion to some people. Every lifelong learner I know has a long list of podcasts they listen to. I have been a podcast addict for years and have learned a ton listening to them. I listen in my car, at the gym, and a ton of other places. I haven’t used the radio in my car in years. My favorite podcast app is called Pocket Casts, but there are several good ones out there. Pick your favorite, put it on your phone, and start listening. Here is a partial list of podcasts that I listen to regularly but don’t feel limited in any way. New shows are coming on daily, and there are many great ones I probably haven’t discovered yet.
- Coach Carson: Real Estate Investing, primarily for new investors. Very good.
- Real Estate Guys: A variety of topics in and around real estate and alternative investing.
- Main Street Business: Mark J. Kohler and his partner Mat Sorenson podcast.
- Afford Anything: General investing and personal finance from Paula Pant
- The Side Hustle Show: Great podcast about starting side hustles and small businesses
- Bigger Pockets: They have 4-5 different podcast shows; check them all out.
- Directed IRA Podcast: Also, by Mark Kohler, which focuses on self-directed investing accounts.
- Untapped: Another great entrepreneurship podcast by Natalie Sisson
- The Rebel Capitalist: Great show on economics. Entertaining as well.
If you want to earn more, learn more.
I touched on this above in the reading suggestion, but if you don’t have time to sit down with a book each day, Audible is a great way to read while doing other activities. I have their platinum membership and get 24 books per year, but I can also purchase new books at a discount, and they offer several books for free with your membership. You can put the Audible app on your phone and listen to books while you are at the gym, driving, or doing boring stuff like mowing the grass. Again, another easy way to add reading into your lifelong learning plan. I have listened to hundreds of hours of books that I don’t think I could have gotten to via a physical book; it is a great and easy way to get reading time in.
Seminars are typically 2- or 3-day events over a weekend. They seem particularly popular in real estate and note investing, which are the ones I usually attend. However, I have also attended asset protection, tax planning, copywriting, entrepreneurship, marketing, technology, and stock investing seminars. Most people, except dedicated lifelong learners, will not take a weekend to attend one. I honestly don’t know why. It is some of the best education you will ever get for a very fair price. Most of the seminars I attend have 100 or fewer people, sometimes a lot less, like, 20. The people who choose not to spend the time and money to go to these genuinely miss out on excellent opportunities.
It is the most expensive of all the suggestions I have made but comes with a lot of value for the money. I go to at least 3-4 seminars per year, sometimes more. They vary in cost, but most of the ones I attend run about $500 plus travel expenses. Some are a bit more, and some are less, but that is a good average. My rule of thumb is that you should be able to attend a weekend seminar plus travel expenses for around $1,000 – $1,200. Again, some will run you more, but I try and follow this general rule of thumb. I typically collect enough credit card reward points to cover my airfare. I usually only pay out of pocket for the hotel, food, and the seminar itself. I can usually grab a hotel shuttle from the airport, so I don’t have to rent a car. I can eat in the hotel, walk to local restaurants, or order food with Door Dash or Uber Eats.
Most seminars are done over a weekend and held in a hotel. They are held all over the country, but it is safe to say you will end up flying to most of them, depending on where you live. I seem to attend a lot in Florida 😉
You will need to come in the day before and plan on flying out late on Sunday or first thing Monday morning. You can usually get a flight out the last day of the class without problems, and some instructors time the second day to end around 3:30 to give people time to catch flights home.
Some seminars have local people coming and events outside the seminar itself are worth attending. For example, when I attend Pete Fortunato seminars (see below), I usually go for an entire week and participate in several local events before and after the actual seminar. I not only get a lot of extra information, but I meet some fantastic people in the process. If you can arrange this for any seminars you are attending, you should do it. You will find you get a lot more out of the event.
I am an active real estate and stock investor, so I attend seminars around these topics, typically a lot related to real estate. Depending on what you are trying to learn about, you might not find many conferences available. There seem to be plenty on real estate, property management, investing, taxes, notes, and private lending. I also attend technology seminars that help me with my consulting business. These are usually Word Camps. If you haven’t heard of a Word Camp before, they revolve around the WordPress web development platform. Many talented people attend these, ranging from technical, marketing, entrepreneurship, and other related issues. In addition, they are super cheap, averaging about $50 bucks for a weekend-long event. Volunteers put them on so they don’t happen consistently every year or in the same places.
One of the very best benefits I get from attending seminars is the incredible networking that occurs at them. Which is one of the reasons I always stay in the hotel where the event is. You will meet other people that are doing what you are doing—these people are all at different skill levels and points in their investing and career journeys. I have met and made great friends and met some of the most inspiring people attending seminars. Once you get into a groove with specific instructors, you will see many of the same people repeatedly and build great relationships with like-minded people.
Sometimes you will find local events that happen around the seminars. For example, I attended seminars in Tampa, Florida, on real estate investing. There were active and local group meetings happening around the seminar, where members of those organizations participated in the seminar. I would fly in a few days early and attend all these meetings in addition to the seminar itself. Simply more time to build relationships and learn even more. As a fellow investor from California said to me, if you will get on a plane and fly across the country, you might as well make a complete trip out of it. You might even be able to bring family members and work some R&R time around events. Many real estate investors I know do this very thing and turn it into a partial vacation and tax deduction!
Networking is critical in the entrepreneurial and alternative investing worlds. Through your network, you find deal flow, financing, talent, and of course, information and knowledge. Don’t overlook this aspect of the seminar experience; it could be the most critical piece if you start attending them.
Seminar Soap Box Warning
As I mentioned earlier, it is not uncommon to attend seminars with only 15-20 people. The bigger ones I attend may have 100 or more, but I have never participated in any with over 200 in attendance. Most people simply won’t take the time or spend the money to attend. Unfortunately, some of these people are the same ones that can’t figure out why they never seem to get ahead in life and wonder why other people are always so “lucky” all the time!
Too many people would rather attend football games, parties with friends, and other fun activities. It is a commitment, no two ways about it. It will require some sacrifice of time and money. You will need to make it a priority, or it will never happen. I have attended seminars over holiday weekends and other events. Sometimes that is what it takes. I have never regretted doing so. I understand that family obligations and fun rank high on most people’s lists, but sometimes you just need to make it a priority and do it. Remember you are doing this to benefit your future, making life for you and your family better.
The last thing I will mention is regarding time. Many good instructors who know the most and can teach the best aren’t getting any younger. Many of them have a lot of gray hair going on. When they are gone everything, you could have learned goes with them. I have already missed out on some of the best instructors I could have known in my chosen area of alternative investing (real estate) because I didn’t know about them soon enough. When I discovered them, they had already stopped teaching or passed away. That is a loss I feel rather acutely from time to time. Therefore, I make attending seminars with the top instructors, one of my highest priorities each year. I suggest you do the same.
The Major key to your better future is You
Instructors of Note
There are tons of great seminars and instructors in areas I don’t invest in or my business isn’t based around. Therefore, I can’t provide you with an exhaustive list of every instructor you should attend. However, as I have said many times, I am a huge real estate investor, so the instructors I note below relate to this area. If this is not where your interest is, and you won’t be involved in these areas, it might not be a good fit for you. I recommend and endorse each one below.
- Pete Fortunato: Pete is one of the most brilliant creative real estate investors on earth. He is, without a doubt, my favorite instructor I have learned from. He is a passionate lifelong learner, which is probably why I like him so much. I may, from time to time, do posts on things I learned from him. If you have a chance to attend one of his seminars, you should do it without hesitation—Pete Fortunato Website.
- John Schaub: John is one of the most successful rental property owners and teachers I know. His information and strategies are practical and straightforward. He offers some very reasonably priced online classes on his website and does one or two in-person events each year worth attending. He also publishes a few books that you can pick up on Amazon that I have read several times. John Schaub Website
- Gary Johnston: Gary is also a brilliant investor. He is a former executive from HP and “retired” from his corporate job at 38 to run his investment business. That should tell you everything you need to know about his success and why you should listen to him. He is a brilliant investor who can teach you a ton. He tends to focus on real estate, notes, and private lending. He is a whiz with the financial calculator, and working through a seminar with him will expand your mind and thinking in ways you can’t imagine—Gary Johnston Website.
- David Tilney: David teaches property management and a concept called Master Leasing, which completely revolutionized my thinking of how to acquire and manage rental property. Owning real estate is how you become wealthy. Managing it effectively is now you stay that way. David teaches this, and it is worth your time to attend his in-person training events, which he typically only does once or twice a year. David Tilney Website
- Dyches Boddiford: Dyches teaches many classes on real estate investing, utilizing trusts, creative finance, self-directed IRA investing, and many other great topics. He typically teaches a few classes per year. You can learn more on his website.
- Chad Carson: Chad “Coach” Carson is younger than me but a sharp and experienced real estate investor that has been a mentor to me over the years. He currently doesn’t do any in-person events, but his Real Estate Start School is an online class and community that is well worth your time and investment if you want to get started right in real estate investing. The course is only offered two times per year because each session is a live session with Chad where you can ask him questions and interact with other students. He will patiently teach you the fundamentals and take you to the more advanced stuff. Coach Carson Website
Living an active business and investing life requires a large base of knowledge and skills that need continuous growth. A sustainable and consistent lifelong learning plan will give you the growth you need. The business and investing world are constantly changing, and keeping up is a lifelong pursuit. When I started my consulting firm almost two decades ago, technology and strategies were very different. I have needed to make massive overhauls of my skills to stay competitive. Technology is night and day from where I started. Software is new, and strategies change. I have needed to keep up if I want to continue to be competitive.
Alternative investing requires a specialized set of skills and knowledge to do it well. It is active and alternative in nature and isn’t straightforward like purchasing an ETF in an eTrade account. If it were easy, everyone would do it. It is because it is difficult and requires specialized knowledge and extra work that you can earn outsized returns doing it.
Lifelong learning is a competitive advantage to those that will do it. It is a lifestyle choice and a priority that, sadly, too many people will not do. I hope you are not one of them. I have lived a much deeper and richer (figuratively and literally) life because I am such an active lifelong learner that makes learning a priority of both my time and money. Happy learning!
The information contained within this website is provided for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining legal, accounting, tax, or financial advice from a professional tax planner or financial planner. Full disclosure
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