For years now, I've been spilling my guts on this blog about everything I know on the subject of real estate investing.
Most of it pertains to the investing niches I enjoy the most (i.e. – land investing, rental properties, lead generation, website building, direct mail strategies, and the like), but I haven't spent much time talking about who I am.
Maybe it's because I've assumed most people don't care, or maybe I've wanted to protect my privacy (maybe both), but every now and then it occurs to me that most of my readers have no idea who I really am, so I wanted to take a few minutes and shed some light on “Seth's Story” with a small collection of random facts about me.
1. I'm 38 years old.
At this point in my life, I've experienced some notable things and seen a lot of what life has to offer. When I reflect on everything I've been involved with, I can finally say I'm not a total novice anymore.
At the same time, there are a lot of things in the world I still haven't seen and I think this puts me in a unique position. In many ways, I can identify with both the young and the old, the experienced and the inexperienced, the confident and the humble.
For the most part, I love my life where it's at. If I could push the “pause” button at any point in time, it would probably be right about now.
2. Music is a big deal to me.
I don't just enjoy listening to music, I enjoy playing it too. At different stages in my life, I've played the violin, guitar, I've been a singer and I've tinkered around with the ukulele a bit too (it's a pretty easy instrument to learn).
When I was in high school (before reality set in), I actually considered going pro as a guitarist. I even released a few self-produced albums of instrumental guitar music. Unfortunately, I never had the gift for songwriting, so most of my recordings were just covers of other songs I liked. Either way, it was still a lot of fun.
Here's a quick sample…
3. I'm pretty disciplined about physical exercise (but even so, I still kind of hate it).
When I was a sophomore in high school, I was really overweight. It was a big physical, mental and emotional burden for me.
One day, I decided I'd had enough and decided I would stop eating, cold turkey for one full week.
It was one of the hardest things I'd ever done, but once I got through it (and lost about 10 pounds in the process), I thought… why not keep going?
A month later, after severely restricting my diet and working my butt off in the weight room, I had lost 40 pounds and some people didn't even recognize me.
Was it a ridiculous stunt? Maybe… but I proved to myself that if I wanted something bad enough, I could move mountains with my motivation and that was an important discovery for me.
4. I'm an Enneagram Type 6
This past year, I discovered the Enneagram test. It's a fast (and free) personality test that can quickly reveal A LOT about your inherent strengths and weaknesses.
When I took it, I found that I was an ultra-strong Type 6, which means I'm a loyal and committed person, but I also spend a lot of my time battling fear, anxiety, and uncertainty.
What I love about this test is that it's QUICK (seriously, you can get through it in 5 minutes) and in my case, it's pretty darn accurate. Even though it's not fun to read test results that cut to the heart of what you're bad at, it's invaluable to see clearly where your weaknesses are, so you can recognize when they start getting in the way of your everyday decisions.
5. I'm NOT a person who oozes with confidence.
My self-confidence (or lack thereof) has always been an issue for me. Maybe it's because I know what arrogant and cocky looks like and I really want to be different (or at least, that's what I tell myself).
Whenever I'm facing big new challenges or hurdles in life, my natural tendency is to quickly conclude that “I can't do it” or “I'm not good enough”.
This has held me back from a lot of things in life… in an unhealthy, self-sabotaging kind of way.
I'm not sure if I'll ever be completely free of it, but as with any problem, the first step towards overcoming it is with the awareness that the problem exists (and at this point, I'm definitely aware of it). I think the trick is to surround yourself with people who will empower you rather than focusing on your limitations. The right influences and voices of encouragement can make a BIG difference in what a person believes they can do.
6. I hate reading…
It may sound odd that someone like myself – who has written hundreds of thousands of words as a blogger – doesn't enjoy reading, but there's an important distinction to make here:
I hate reading when I'm not interested in the subject matter.
My life was greatly enriched by both of the schools I attended for graduate and undergraduate studies… but let me tell you, getting through 6+ years of college (with ENDLESS reading about subjects I would never specialize in) was torturous at times.
Sitting down for hours on end and reading, just for the heck of it, is something I almost never do. Unless it's a truly life-changing book or some other subject I legitimately want to learn more about, reading is not something I do for fun.
As a source of media, I've found that audiobooks, podcasts, and videos are much more enjoyable for me, probably because I can multi-task and get other things done while I'm absorbing the content, which helps keep me sane.
7. I'm a natural introvert, but I know how to turn on the extroversion when I need to.
I've always been a relatively quiet person in social settings, but I know how to become much more outgoing when the time calls for it. On a scale of 1 to 10 on the introvert/extrovert scale (1 = extreme introvert, 10 = extreme extrovert), I'm probably somewhere around a 3.5.
I don't usually vocalize my thoughts to the world unless I'm really comfortable with the people around me (and in those cases, it's hard for me to shut up). Sometimes this works against me, but more often than not, I'm perfectly content with being a person who carefully thinks through their words before speaking. If I said whatever was on my mind, I'd probably look really stupid and offend a lot of people.
I've learned that introversion can be an asset in some settings and a liability in others. I don't think there's anything wrong with being a quiet person, but I do think it's important for every introverted person to find their voice and learn how to speak up when the time calls for it.
Over the past decade, I've gotten more comfortable with this by taking some Dale Carnegie classes and being a member of Toastmasters. These outlets aren't intended solely for the purpose of helping introverts come out of their shell, but both were helpful in doing this for me.
8. Academics have never been my forté.
For as long as I can remember, I've always struggled in school. From about 3rd grade up through my college years, I constantly felt like one of the dumbest kids in my class.
In retrospect, I don't think this was actually true, it's just how I perceived the situation. It also didn't help that I attended one of the most academically rigorous colleges in my state, and unlike me, all of my peers had a very strong academic track record.
The weird thing is… when I was in my early 20's, I took a very comprehensive IQ test and scored a 133 (not far off from ‘genius' territory), but for some reason, this has almost never shown itself in the form of good grades in a classroom setting.
Perhaps the academic world isn't the only way to get a clear picture of a person's intelligence?
9. My wife is the most financially responsible person I know.
I didn't fully realize this when I married her, but my wife is extremely frugal with money and as a result, she keeps our whole family in line.
She is a CPA by trade, so she understands the details behind the numbers. Ultimately, this is a very good thing (because the devil is in the details), but sometimes it feels like a drag when she forbids me from going on a reckless spending spree.
I have to tell you though… her frugality has worked wonders for our family. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Whenever I hear other people complaining about their car payments or how hard it is living paycheck-to-paycheck, I am immediately reminded of how lucky I am to have a wife who helps me (sometimes forcibly) to live a financially responsible lifestyle. It's not particularly fun or easy to live with this kind of discipline, but there are HUGE benefits that come with the package. Laying the groundwork takes real effort, but it also eliminates all kinds of unnecessary problems that don't need to be there in the first place.
10. I'm an amateur videographer.
Back in 2013 (around the time I started this website), I started recognizing the power and impact of videos as a medium for teaching and communicating.
After writing a handful of my first blog posts, I realized there were some things I just couldn't explain well enough through text alone. I needed a way to stand over a person's shoulder and actually show them what I was talking about.
When I bought my first camera, I started geeking out about how to shoot better videos and edit them to perfection. I've spent years working at it and made hundreds of videos to date, and I'm still obsessed.
Great videos can deliver invaluable information while also conveying quality and a sense of trust. I can explain and teach certain things through videos that simply cannot be done any other way. It all happens by saying the right things, in the right way, while showing the right things on the screen.
Video isn't just something I do for the sake of my business, it's something I do in my free time too because it's a lot of fun!
11. Some people still think my real estate business (including this blog) is a joke.
Ever since I started working for myself, there have always been people in my life who haven't taken me seriously. To this day, whenever I talk about land investing or blogging, a lot of people just don't get it.
I'm not sure what these people need to see in order to take me seriously – but fortunately, their opinions are mostly inconsequential. What I care about is having total autonomy, doing meaningful work, and knowing that I'm changing lives (including my own) in the process.
Don't get me wrong… I LOVE it when people show their support and offer encouragement, it really means a lot to me, but if this kind of validation was required in order for me to take the next step, I never would have gotten anywhere with my endeavors.
12. My political stance is slightly right-leaning, but I generally hate politics altogether.
I seem to be one of the few people I know who can identify with BOTH liberal and conservative people on a number of issues.
I certainly have my opinions on many things, but I almost never think someone is “the devil” just because they think differently than I do. Even when I disagree with someone, I can usually understand and even appreciate their opinion and I don't think they're crazy because of their viewpoints.
Honestly though… after years of listening to some of the blatant ignorance from both the liberals and conservatives in my life, I've grown to despise political debates altogether. I don't think any issue is one-sided, and it really bothers me when the media plays off people's emotions by turning everything into a polarized fight.
I've found that most political issues are vastly complicated and have many different facets to consider. Whenever I hear someone giving an over-simplified answer to a problem that is anything but simple, I can't help but roll my eyes. The world can become a dangerous place when people stop thinking critically.
13. I get easily annoyed by people.
Not all people, but certain people – and I think it gets worse and worse the busier I get.
When I was younger, I was naive enough to think I could get along with anyone. As I've gotten older, I've been disappointed to learn that some people are like oil and water, they just aren't going to mix.
I think we all meet certain people in life we simply cannot get along with. Have you ever known someone like that? If you're normal on any level, I think you know what I'm talking about.
It's a sad reality and I wish humans didn't have to work this way, but it doesn't necessarily mean people have to constantly be at war with each other… it just means someone's gotta change or someone's gotta go.
14. My brain likes to remember a lot of pointless facts and details while forgetting the stuff that's actually important.
It drives my wife crazy (and I don't blame her), that I can forget things almost immediately after I've heard them.
The good news is, I've learned to live pretty successfully with this mental deficiency of mine. I use the “Reminders” and “Calendar” apps on my iPhone religiously, because my brain just can't retain all of the little things I need to do unless someone (or something) is reminding me about them.
I've also learned the importance of doing things immediately. The sooner I can get a thing done, the sooner I can allow myself to forget about it.
15. My wife and I have two kids.
For the longest time, I wasn't sure whether I wanted kids, whether I was ready to “give up my freedom” or whether I'd even be a good father. It's something my wife and I deliberated about for years… but within moments of our first child being born, it quickly became evident that this was hands down, the best thing we had ever done.
At the time of this writing, our daughter Nora is 4 and our son Luke is 18 months old. They have both given us FAR more than we could ever give back. The sheer amount of joy and love they have brought into our lives is almost unbelievable (I used to hear people say this kind of stuff before I had my own kids, but now I finally get it).
I was never much of a “baby person” in my 20's. I was pretty uncomfortable holding other people's babies and I almost never felt more awkward than when I had to entertain a toddler for even 30 seconds.
The funny thing is – when MY first kid was born, everything was different. Things clicked into place almost immediately. It was like God suddenly gave me this innate parenting ability I never knew was in me.
If you've got 8 minutes to spare, here's a quick look at one of our family vacations in Pentwater, MI.
16. I write and record children's stories.
One night, I decided to try something different by making up a story from my head.
To my surprise, my kids seemed captivated by the stories I told them and they would beg me to keep each story going.
So, I got into the nightly habit of reading them “stories from my head” at bedtime. They were never pre-scripted or thought out ahead of time. I would just make them up on the spot as the story went along.
Sometimes they would come out pretty lame (as you might expect), but sometimes they would actually be pretty good. Even I was surprised at some of the stories my brain produced!
Eventually, I decided to start recording these stories on my phone as I told them. Whenever a decent story would come out, I would go back to my computer the next day and use my podcasting equipment to record a version that actually sounded a bit like audio theatre.
After recording a half-dozen of these things, I decided to do something with them, and that's when the Storyland Podcast was born. If you've got any kids in your life between the ages of 4 – 12, have them listen and let me know what they think!
17. I'm a Christian and I'm serious about my faith, but I've never been big into proselytizing.
I've been extremely fortunate to grow up in a Christian home, going to Christian schools and attending a Christian church. I'll always be thankful for the opportunities I've had to know my creator, who cared enough to save me from myself. It means everything.
One of the few unfortunate things about growing up around so much Christian culture is that I've seen a lot of examples of Christians who are doing it wrong. Perhaps you've seen it too.
I think a lot of the world's agnostic and irreligious people see a great deal of hypocrisy in those who call themselves “Christ-followers” and it's tragic. Even more unfortunate is that I think they're right. I see the hypocrisy too… even in myself.
I've actually struggled with this a lot. I don't ever want to be seen as that “clueless Christian guy” who is full of advice for the world but has no real compassion or understanding for what the world is going through.
The world doesn't need another Christian pointing their finger, but it desperately needs some better examples of what Christ-like behavior actually looks like. Honestly, I don't think some people have ever seen this exhibited well. My goal is NOT to shout at people with a megaphone and demand that they believe the same thing I do. My goal is to live the best life I can and hope someone will see a difference in my behavior and understand where it's coming from.
18. My life is WAY busier than it should be.
As much as I talk about the importance of time management, it's still something I still wrestle with a lot. I think it's because I've got this achiever mentality and no matter what, I'll always find something to fill up my time with.
I find a lot of meaning and motivation in my work and I care about doing things that make a difference. I get frustrated when my work feels pointless, or when I put a lot of time into something that doesn't work out – so when monotony sets in, I keep adding things to my plate until I feel like I'm doing something significant again.
As much as I try to automate and streamline everything I do, I still find it difficult to pay adequate attention to everything going on around me. I'm honestly not sure what the solution is, but I'm hoping I'll figure it out soon.
19. No matter how much money I make, I still worry about not having enough.
Maybe it's greed, maybe it's a lack of faith, maybe I just need a lesson in contentment. Whatever the problem is, I've always found it interesting that even though much of the world lives on less than a dollar a day, I still have trouble living on hundreds of times more than that.
I'm not proud of this. I'm sharing it because I think many of us struggle with it. After all, why are any of us investing in real estate if we already feel like we have enough?
20. My success as a real estate investor has been modest at best.
Some people think of me as this amazing success story and I'll admit, I've had my share of grand slams as a real estate investor… but there are TONS of unsung heroes (some of whom learned their exact investing strategy from this blog) who have achieved far more than I have.
I know how to make a ton of money in real estate and I genuinely enjoy sharing these ideas with the world, but at the end of the day, knowing is not the same as doing. It's the doers who will actually take home the bacon.
One of the critical lessons I want people to take away from this website is that learning is important, but action is critical. The right knowledge really is a legitimate prerequisite to your success, but it's also important to remember that knowledge is just a multiple of your actions. If you have a million-dollar idea and you multiply it by zero, what will you have in the end? ZERO.
As you consume every piece of content on this website, I want you to constantly ask yourself – “What could I accomplish if I actually put this into practice?” The answers may surprise you.