Are you on the path to financial freedom but struggling to see the real progress? Maybe you’ve heard the myths about quick wealth fixes or shortcuts to success and felt discouraged when they didn’t pan out. If that sounds familiar, this episode of The ONE Thing Podcast is precisely what you need.
Joining us today is David Greene, a former police officer turned real estate mogul. With a decade of experience, David has transformed over 50 properties into profitable rentals and built a formidable real estate empire. Beyond his investments, he leads the high-performing David Greene Team under Keller Williams and heads the One Brokerage, an award-winning nationwide mortgage company. His expertise has garnered national attention, with features on CNN, Forbes, HGTV, and TEDx, and as a host on the top-ranked BiggerPockets real estate podcast.
But what truly sets David apart is his commitment to sustainable wealth-building, which he passionately outlines in his latest book, “Pillars of Wealth.” This conversation delves into the step-by-step process of growing your wealth sustainably, debunking the common wealth myths, and exposing the reality that there’s no substitute for hard work when building true wealth.
So if you’re ready to pull back the curtain on sustainable wealth and learn from a master of the trade, you won’t want to miss this compelling discussion with David Greene. Dive in with us as we explore the foundational principles that can elevate your wealth-building journey to the next level.
To learn more, and for the complete show notes, visit: the1thing.com/pods.
We talk about:
- What the pillars of wealth are and why David Greene wrote this book
- The importance of failure in growth
- Confidence as a vital tool for success
Links & Tools from This Episode:
- Learn more at davidgreene24.com
- Read: Pillars of Wealth
- Follow David on Instagram: @davidgreene24
- Connect with David on LinkedIn
- Free Resources
- Want to be a guest or share feedback? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Produced by NOVA Media
Hey, everyone. And welcome back to The ONE Thing podcast. I'm Nikki Miller. And today, we have David Greene with us who's a former police officer and now a real estate investor with more than 10 years of experience. He's bought, rehabbed, and managed more than 50 rental properties, owns an extensive real estate portfolio. And he's also a successful businessperson who runs both the top producing David Greene team under Keller Williams, as well as The One Brokerage, which is an award-winning mortgage company servicing the entirety of the United States.
He's a nationally recognized real estate authority. He's been featured on CNN and Forbes and HGTV and TEDx, and he also hosts the top rank BiggerPockets Real Estate podcast and is also the bestselling author of four books and here today to talk to us about his newest book, Pillars of Wealth. This is a step-by-step guide on how to grow your wealth, how to do so sustainably, and he's also dispelling a lot of the myths around how people grow wealth and this idea that there could be a quick fix or a way for someone to get there without having to do the work. This is such an incredible conversation with David, who's really going to take us behind the scenes, behind the curtain, of what it takes to actually build true, sustainable wealth. Let's jump right in.
Hey, everyone and welcome back to The ONE Thing podcast. I am so excited to have my friend David Greene here. David and I, actually we've got a history. We go way back. We both met when we were both pretty early on in real estate sales in Northern California. So I'm excited that both of our stories have come probably half circle. I can't really call us full circle just yet, but probably half circle. And we get to have this very fun interview today.
For those that don't know David, he is a real estate investor who's bought, rehabbed, managed more than what 50 rental properties and owns multifamily apartment complexes, short-term rentals, mortgage notes, triple net properties, all the things in his personal portfolio. He's also the host of the top ranked BiggerPockets podcast and the author of four bestselling books, here to talk to us today about his newest book, Pillars of Wealth. Welcome, David. I'm super excited to have you.
Thank you, Nikki. It's nice to be back on The ONE Thing podcast.
Yes, we're excited to have you. You are a returning guest, so thank you for coming back.
Absolutely. I did notice that you're missing a couple books on the bookshelf back there. I was telling Chris, you've got space for the two thing, the three thing, the four thing. As many things as we're going to write, there's a space for it.
Well, it's always funny when people ask about them writing a second book to The ONE Thing. I'm like, if you call your first book The ONE thing, it's kind of tough to name your second book.
You figured yourself in the corner. That's exactly right.
Yeah. I tell Jay and Gary all the time. I'm like, you did back yourself in the corner of bix. What are you going to call, The Other Thing, The Second Thing?
That is exactly right.
And Another Thing? Well, I'm excited to talk about your new book, which is called Pillars of Wealth. Give us the reason that you wrote this one. You clearly hadn't had enough in the first few books of how to teach people how to invest in real estate. I have a feeling the premise of this one is going to be something that everyone can really connect with. So walk us through, what is the reason that you wrote this? Give us the Reader's Digest version of what the book is about.
That is exactly right. To be frank, most books I've written have been in response to questions that people ask me. And most businesses that I've started have been in response to frustrations that I had in my own life.
So when I was a police officer, my friends were asking to be put in touch with a real estate agent and I would connect them with one and then they would come ask me a bunch of questions because the agent didn't explain it. And I would end up doing the job of real estate agent. And I said, why don't I just get my license and get paid?
And then I would refer people to loan officers. And I noticed that I was constantly explaining to my clients the thing the loan officer was supposed to explain. And I would say, I'm tired of this. I'm starting a mortgage company. I'm going to train the loan officers so that I don't have to do this anymore. And that became The One Brokerage and so on and so forth.
So this book was written in response to people saying, hey, David, I heard you on the podcast. I've got no money, no credit, no job, no skills, no girlfriend, no hope, and no dog. But what's the best way for me to buy real estate? And I just was realizing, I don't know how to tell you this, man, but you shouldn't be buying real estate if we have bigger problems to solve in your life than that.
And there is this air, a lot of it comes from what is seen on social media, that owning real estate is the magic pill to the life you don't like. You don't want to have to sit in community traffic. You don't like having a boss that holds you accountable, so you call them a micromanager and a jerk. You don't like having to adapt to the needs of the marketplace, which is funny because in the book I talk about how that is really all the capitalism is, is finding the demands of a market and you changing yourself to meet it.
Instead, we want to find a job or a boss or a career or something that doesn't require us to change. It's already changed to be perfect for us. And it's a side note. I see this all the time in like in dating. Where you'll see right now, just everyone that's single is jumping from person to person to person. And when you ask why, it's always, well, they weren't a good fit for me. Like, well, this is the 50th bad fit for you. It might be a thing where you're just looking for something that isn't going to exist. Maybe you should become a good fit for someone else. That would be a more productive question.
This book is the answer to wealth, like that would be for dating, how you adapt yourself, your mindset, the skills that you're building, the approach that you take, and the value that you bring to marketplace so that you can be what the market wants, and you can actually become a wealthy person. Because although many people may not understand this from what they see on TikTok, every real estate investor that I know that's really wealthy, didn't just buy real estate and do nothing. They had to build skills. They were really good at saving money. And they were really good at making money. And they put the difference in real estate.
So the book focuses on a three pillared approach that I use myself to become a multimillionaire, which was saving my money, which was a form of budgeting, having a plan for every dollar, self-discipline, protecting the money that I worked so hard to make, not letting someone else take it from me. That's the first pillar. And I talk about all the ways that advertisers and, and people in marketing, their job is to separate you from your money. And if you don't realize that you're stepping out into the world with people whose goal is every day to get you to spend money on things you don't need, you're losing that fight.
And then the second pillar, which is rarely talked about, which is the actual skill of making more money. That is all about personal development. It’s about becoming what the market needs. And there are six chapters on that pillar that focus on like extreme ownership. If you've read Jocko Willink's book, I love that book, taking more responsibility on in the workplace, outworking your competition, always asking the question of how could I be better instead of how could I make this easier or how could I take on more responsibility instead of, well, unless they pay me more, I'm not going to do that and actually building the skills that are required to make money. I did a TED Talk on that exact topic, the skill of building skills and how it's something that you can learn to do.
And then the third pillar which is investing the difference, not just letting that money sit in the bank and do nothing. You do have to put it to work and the skill of actually earning a return on your savings.
So much for us to unpack here. And I'm remembering, as you speak so candidly as you do, which is the thing that I absolutely love about you, how we even became friends in the first place, because this is all true. These are all the things that I think people who have acquired any amount of success, who spend time with successful people, this is the thing that just makes you want to shake people when they're starting to talk about and point to all the reasons or all of the ways that this should be done or can be done or can't be done, or all the ways that they're listening to, sort of the online finance gurus that haven't actually amassed any wealth. And they're pointing towards these people saying, this is the way. And you're just looking up and saying, this is absolutely not the way. This is wrong. And you know a better way, and that's the gift that you're giving to the world, which I absolutely love.
I want to start with the first place that you began, which is save your money. And this is not the sexy way to start, right? I think a lot of people listen to these finance experts, and I'm giving the bunny quotes for those that are listening to the podcast, not watching our YouTube. But those that are listening to these finance experts want to go directly into how do I go from zero, to your point earlier, I have no money, I don't have the girlfriend, I don't have the dog, I have nothing, and I'm starting from zero to I am managing 300 doors.
And it just doesn't work that way. You have to start the way that you amass great wealth is by learning the skills in order to grow that type of money.
I think a lot of people miss this concept. And skill number one is learning to save your money. Talk more about why you started there and talk more about what you see out in the community because you're obviously entrenched in the community of wealth building and all of the good and the bad that comes with it.
Yeah. I mean, I love -- the reason I started with that, I love your question, is that most of us will never actually become wealthy because our heart is in the wrong place and you wouldn't be able to handle the wealth that was given to you. And those that are wealthy inherently understand that. Those that are not wealthy don't. And so I use analogies when I communicate it in the book, there's a lot of them, to try to paint a picture because wealth is hard for someone to understand that doesn't have it. But if I could use an example of something that they do understand, they can make the connection.
And so fitness is one that worked really good within this book. If you say, David, I want to be so strong, I can bench press 500 pounds. That's equivalent of being a millionaire, or even maybe making a million dollars in a year. Right. We could use the millionaire real estate agent model. I want to be the kind of person that can make a million. It wouldn't make sense if I handed you a business that was a million dollar a year business and said, run this, you would just run it into the ground. You don't have the skills. You don't have the character. You don't have the experience. You don't have the instincts. The things that you would need to run that business are missing.
It would be like, if I put 500 pounds on the bar and said, okay, you're going to bench press 500 pounds because you want to be strong, it would just crush your rib cage. You have to start with what you can do. And then consistently add weight every single time you go, which means your workout will never not be hard. The minute that your workout is no longer hard, you're not getting stronger anymore.
And what I often find is people want to be wealthy because they want an easier life. Well, if I had a million dollars a year, I wouldn't have all these problems. And that's true. You wouldn't have those problems. You would have these problems instead. And you might find that you would trade the new problems you have for the ones that you used to have making a hundred thousand dollars a year as an agent, doing the stuff you like might be a better life for you than making a million dollars a year with a life that you hate.
So we start with defense because if you can't master your own impulses, if you can't live by a plan, which is, I guess the goal of playing defense is not to deprive yourself. It's not. You shouldn't enjoy life. It's that you should have a budget that you only spend money that you predetermined you would spend on those things. You should not just be impulsively saying I'm in a bad mood today, I need some retail therapy. Or the people down the street from me bought a car. Now, I'm not happy with my car. I need to buy another car. Nobody -- like no fitness bodybuilder thinks, well, I'm going to eat today based on my emotions in the moment or based on, well, they are eating a cinnamon roll for lunch. Now I feel bad about my broccoli. You're eating based on your fitness goals. And you have to learn how to control your own emotional impulses, which ultimately gives you a better life than the person eating the cinnamon roll, but in the moment, it's not.
And that's why I tell people to start there, because if you want to build the skills that will allow you to lift that heavy weight to manage a portfolio of properties, to manage a business, manage the people that go into man and running a business. If you can't manage yourself, you've already disqualified yourself. It's not going to work. And we see what happens with the people that do inherit a business from someone else or who win the lottery or somehow come across big amounts of money when they haven't learned how to control themselves, it doesn't last very long.
And usually, their life is worse off after getting it than before they did.
Well, isn't the statistic of people who win the lottery something, it's in the high 80s, I think of the number of people who go bankrupt. And I always say it's usually not for anything other than they just haven't acquired the skills that you would need to acquire in order to amass that type of wealth. They literally don't understand how to manage it because the people who grew that on their own had to go through all of the phases of learning how to manage it up until that point.
And I always say to people that these behavioral challenges, the gap between where someone is and where they want to be, it's a mirror of a core fundamental character issue. And ultimately, the character issue of if you can't follow your small plan, if you can't build that small habit, then you're definitely not going to have any hope to build the big one. Is that what you see in people? It's like if they can't follow this budget, whether they have no money or a little money or as they amass it, then they're not going to be able to become wealthy even if they do start making a million dollars a year?
That's exactly right. You'll make a million dollars a year and then you'll spend a million dollars a year. And you'll have all of the stress and none of the peace of an easy life and you won't have any money to show for all of that stress. You're actually in a worse off position, right? And not a perfect analogy would be you go to the gym, and you bust your butt for two hours working out. And then as soon as you're done, you go eat three pizzas or something. Obviously, that's not a perfect analogy because you'll still have some benefit of the muscle that you grew, but it's from like a caloric point, it would be stupid to do that. You just ruined your day. And now you're tired for the whole day and you've got nothing to show for it.
The first step in learning how to become wealthy is having the self-control to manage it. And I would add, Nikki, when people get money given easily, which we've seen a lot of in the last 10 years, because we printed so much money and the economy has done so well, they don't value the money. There's a respect that you have to have for what $10,000 is. And even if you get to a point where $10,000 just flows easily into you because of what you've done, most people out there are not in that position. And that money has a lot of value, and you should respect it and treat it the same, regardless of if you have a lot of it or if you don't have a lot of it. And if you haven't learned to like earn the right to have more money, what you're going to find is that the money gods, they just don't give it to you.
And the same principle goes through a lot of different things, right? Like if you are a buyer's agent on a real estate team and you treat the clients like garbage, or just you do the bare minimum to get it to close, because you just want your paycheck. Most people think that way. They go to work, and they say, all right, what's the littlest amount of work I have to do to get the most money I can.
So it's not uncommon for a buyer's agent to negotiate with their broker or their team leader or their rainmaker for a higher split. You're never going to find a person that says I want a smaller split. But then when the person who controls the money says, okay, well, here's what I need from you to get that, that's where the pushback happens, that attitude right off the bat is telling me they're not able to handle more wealth because they're not asking the question of how do I get better at my job? How do I close more deals? How do I give the client a better experience and earn the right to getting more money? They're trying to take a shortcut, which is really what the book is about. It's like, I'm just not going to lie to you. There are no shortcuts, but there is a very clear path that is almost impossible not to become wealthy, if you follow it.
That was my favorite part about the book, David, that it's really just the systematic approach to building wealth. And I think anyone who's done that would agree that if anyone is trying to sell you the pill. right, the quick fix, the take this and you'll lose 30 pounds in a day, or you just buy this machine, and you never have to do anything and you'll automatically wake up with a six pack. Anyone who has done the work knows that that is full of, you know what? Like they just know it's not true.
And so ultimately, I think part of acquiring these skills also gives you this sort of level of skepticism. I don't know a better way to say it, but do you find that -- I find myself having this level of skepticism because I've done a lot of this work. So when I see someone saying, oh, do this and you'll be wealthier, this is the fast path to wealth. I'm like, well, I don't have to even listen to that to know that it's probably wrong or grossly oversimplified because I know that there really isn't a fast path to wealth. There is no magic pill. It's a systematic approach over time.
And if it is fast, there's probably something you should be concerned about because if it goes volatilely in one direction, it can also go very volatilely in the other direction. I don't know if that's actually a real word. I might've just made that up.
Volatilely. Yeah, it worked for what it was and I got it.
Yeah, we saw that with Bitcoin and NFTs. People became super wealthy super quick. And just as fast as it came, it went away because it wasn't made in a sustainable way. I really love what you're saying about the skepticism, a question that I've started to ask in my own life, because frankly, when they're listening to me and you talking about this, they don't know if they can actually trust this or if they can't, they're just hearing us say it, right? When you go on TikTok or you go on YouTube, and you have someone saying, I'm going to teach you how to make money in your sleep, and you're not going to have to do anything. If you take my course, you'll get this thing. How do you know if it's going to work or not? That's the problem is you can't know.
So what I've started asking myself is, is what they're describing something that I see work in other areas of life as well? Okay. If I came to you and I said, hey, I want a system of getting a girl to fall in love with me, of making her admire and respect me. But once I get it, I just want passive relationship. I don't want to have to keep dating them and keep working on improving myself. I just want to get married and be done. What's the best way to go about doing that? You'd probably say, David, that is not how it works. You will just end up in an unhappy relationship and eventually losing your relationship wealth. It doesn't stop.
Yet, we send this message to people that they can get passive income if they just work really hard and buy one asset, never look at it again, where they can work hard to build a business and become a seventh level agent. And they can just hand it over to someone else. And the money comes in. No, as a seventh level agent, which for people that aren't familiar with that, you're like the CEO of your real estate team. You have a harder job than everyone else. You have to hold people accountable.
And what I found is that's the thing everyone hates more than anything in business is having to hold people accountable and being a visionary and anticipating problems. Like you can get out of doing the same work everyone else is doing, but you have to do a different kind of work. What most of us are going to hear if it's from an area that's free, which is where most people get their information, it's from YouTube or social media somewhere, is a version of it that is better than actually works in real life because nobody signs up for a hard workout.
During the nineties, this is in the book, it was very common to advertise the ab roller and the thigh master and the butt cruncher. And it was like some smiling really fit woman who was doing these crunches. Like, I love it. This is so easy. From the comfort of your own home, and with no sweat, you too can get a six pack like this. And nobody ever got fit during that period of time. Like that stuff just became where you'd hang your clothes because it sat in your room and was used for nothing. Then when CrossFit came out, you started to see bodies that were actually fit but it's because they were doing something that was so insanely hard. They had to create a –
They were working their face off.
Yes, it was so hard. They had to create an entire culture of like the workout of the day and --
Yeah, the crazy people that did CrossFit.
That we were all making fun of them. But that's what it took to get someone to do the thing that was so hard that you could become that fit. I would argue that becoming financially wealthy is even harder than becoming physically fit. It's going to take the same level of commitment. It's going to take surrounding yourself with people that do it, and making sacrifices and committing to improving yourself, just like you do when you enter into the gym. And the first step is just to get rid of the lies that there is a way to do it that isn't that.
Well, David, I'm sure this happens to you, but I would say, at least one to two times when I go to a big conference, somebody will stop me in the hallway and the conversation goes a little something like this. They'll be like, all right, nobody's around. And Nikki, I promise, I will not tell anybody that we had this conversation, and could you just tell me like the secret that you're not telling everybody else? Like what is the secret to grow a really big business and make a lot of money?
And I'll always lean forward, and I'll say, all right, you ready? And you promise that you won't tell anybody? And they'll be like, yeah, yeah, I promise. And I'll say, have you consider doing the work because that's it. Like, that's the secret. That's the thing that you're missing. And that is the secret I tell everybody. It's just that no one really wants to hear that one. That's just the hard answer.
The problem is there is no other option. For people that hear this and they go, well, yeah, I know for most people, they have to do the work. But for me, there's another way.
I must be special.
It's very simple. If you, Nikki, who worked your butt off to develop a stellar reputation with your database and one of them comes to you and says, I want you to help me buy a house and you go to that agent who says, what's the secret and say, I've got a family friend that wants to buy a house. Would you like the lead? That's what most agents are looking for, spoon feed me leads that I can just go close. Okay.
The problem is if that person doesn't make the buyer feel the same way you did, they don't have the same attention to detail, the same enthusiasm, the same communication skills, they don't inspire confidence the way that you do, the buyer isn't going to move forward with the deal. You're not going to get the referral. They're not going to get the money. The buyer's not going to get the house. The seller isn't going to maybe get it. Everyone loses when that's the case. There is not a way to hand agents leads.
And that is the problem is even if you were spoon fed the leads you want, you just wouldn't close them. You have to become the kind of person that can get a seller to agree to your offer and can get the buyer to write the offer that they need to write to get the property and get both people to feel good about doing it. That is the only way to go about it. And if you want to leverage that off, you have to become the kind of person that can get buyers agents to do the job that you used to do. That is an incredibly hard journey to take. It is worth it. You and I are both on that journey, but there literally is no other way to get there because even if it was handed to someone, they would just fumble it.
And that's the message that I'm trying to preach. It's not that we're just these old fuddy duddies that are out here saying, hard work's the only way to get there. You also need to work smart. It's not just like blind hard work. If you could work 18 hours a day and do a bad job at the 18 hours, and it would be just as useless as if you didn't work 18 hours. It's more the understanding that you have to become the type of person that the market wants in order to move forward. We call those sales skills. We call those professional skills. There's all kinds of names, but what you're really doing is self-development.
And if you embrace that fact, which is in the second pillar, I call it falling in love with the purpose of becoming great, you will move towards becoming a financially fit or physically fit or whatever your goals are, but there's a part of your brain that resists it, that does not want to believe that you are the problem, that is afraid of the rejection that is inevitable. If you go take on a task that is too hard for you, you're going to fail it. You can't avoid failing at it.
The example I give in the book is that if you go to the gym and you don't work out to failure, you're dumb. You're not going to get stronger. Like literally, if I go say, I want to live that way 10 times and I can do it 10 times and I stopped, I didn't work out as hard as I could. The point is to get to where the 12th one was too much. I could not do it. David Greene was not enough. And I failed. I was rejected in my goal. And I need to come back tomorrow and be stronger.
But when we're in the gym, we don't consider failure to be negative. We don't receive it like rejection. It doesn't remind us of the pain of never being good enough for our mom or all the things that stop us from going. We have to take that same attitude and apply it into whatever our vocational field is. When the client doesn't buy or when your boss says you didn't do good enough, you can't get defensive. You can't make excuses. You can't say, well, I want to find a boss who does think I'm good enough. You have to just take it square in the chest and say, okay, how do I become more like this person that would do it? And those are the people that wealth eventually finds.
Well, I think this is such a hard concept, especially for people who are early on in this journey because you say those are the people that wealth finds. But really what you're actually saying is that wealth doesn't find anybody. Like no one is interrupted by success. They always created it, whether they can articulate that or not. If they actually created true wealth, if they created true success, they went out and found it and created it and built it and had intention around it. It's almost never on accident, even if it might seem like that from the outside.
So I love you're bringing this into the second skill, which is that you have to become better in order to get better results. If you want to make more money and slowly expand that differential between how much you can save and how much you can invest, well, then you're going to have to level up. You're going to have to level up your skills.
And what I hear you saying too, is another top question I get asked, especially by young people, and I'm sure that you get this too, which is like a lot of them want to ask how you build confidence. Right. And it almost always comes in the form of, well, how do I acquire confidence? I'm like, well, you don't buy it. Like you can't cheat your way to it, you can't borrow it and you can't steal it from somebody else. Confidence is the one thing that has to come from evidence. You have to build it and earn it. And the way that you do that is by looking backwards and seeing evidence in your own life.
I mean, I think that a lot of people have stories around money because they've just quite simply never created the skill sets in order to grow it or understand it or acquire it. And Gary has the saying that money is really the language of adulthood. And if we choose not to understand it, then we're choosing to be illiterate. And that's always resonated with me in the sense that at some point I had to learn to read because if I couldn't learn to read, I wouldn't be able to move through life as an adult.
And to me, learning the foundations of money or the skill set of money and growing it and protecting it is really the same thing. That becomes our language as adults. And if we choose not to learn it, we are actively choosing not to be illiterate. And the only way to get confident in it or anything else for that matter is to take step towards it to fail forward and to look backwards and see evidence of how you've grown over time. Is that what you see?
Yeah. I mean I’ve been saying what you just said is probably these days, the number one message I share with my agents on my team and the load officers, anybody who's in a company of mine, what I'm trying to convey is that confidence is the most valuable currency you can have as a human being. Okay. Want to get a girlfriend? She's going to be looking for someone who's confident. You want to get a client? They're going to respond to someone that's confident.
Think about the people that we're drawn to. Who are the leaders we follow? Gary Keller doesn't sound unconfident when he speaks. People that you listen to on YouTube don't sound unconfident. One of the ways I describe it is I'll say to people, do you even know if I own a house? How do you know if I own any real estate at all? Does anyone know that I actually sold the homes that we say that I sold? Or that, how do you know I wrote that book? What if some other guy named David Greene's out there pissed because I'm just claiming that I wrote all the books that he actually -- no one really knows.
It's unnerving when you think about it. We are making decisions off of the way someone makes us feel, period. Confident people give us the feeling that we are in good hands with them, and we can trust what they say. It is the number one currency anyone can have because like you said, it's impossible to fake. You can't trick someone into thinking you're confident. You could try to buy it with a Ferrari, or you could try to buy it with nice clothes, or you can try to use arrogance as a substitute for confidence. And some people can be fooled for a period of time with that. But ultimately, that quiet confidence is something that cannot be faked, and you will like yourself more and the market will respond to you better.
That's why I get listings when other agents don't. I don't have a secret formula that other people don't. It's that when I communicate, when I go into that meeting and I say, here's what I'm going to do to sell your house. It's not some clever marketing ploy. It's not that I have some Spreadsheets or some PowerPoint that other people don't have. Those are just tools to help you reflect confidence so that I can say, here's what I will do. And you believe me when I say it. I only have that because, like you said, I've proven to myself over and over and over that I can do this. And when I didn't do it, I went back and said, how do I do it better? Nikki sounds better than me in this area. This person gives someone more confidence than I do. What is stopping me from acquiring that?
And I just think more people need to hear that message because they show up at a Keller Williams event or any kind of sales training, and they're asking the wrong question. Like you're saying, they're saying, what's the easy road? How do I get the leads? Or what's the script that I use that they'll just sign the buyer agreement. No one makes decisions on that. You don't decide who you're going to follow based off of what they say, you do it based off the way that they make you feel when they say. It's very, very difficult to fake that.
Well, but the challenge here though, as I always say, there's two sides to that coin. The challenge is that we do have a lot of people who are overconfident and have a nice free platform where to your point, you really can't tell what they've done or not done. And they're pontificating like they're experts in this subject, and they're not.
Like one of my favorite things that you've been doing is on your social media, you're sort of debunking these finance bros. I don't have a better way to explain them. But you're taking these videos that are out on social, which are just atrocious, people talking about wealth when it's clear that they don't have a clue what they're talking about. And you're sort of debunking these as someone who has actually built these things and shedding some light around somebody talking like they're very confident or explaining something like they're very confident, but what they're saying doesn't actually have value.
Why did you start doing that? Because I think it's really important. Probably a little bit spicy for some people. Personally, I've loved it. I look forward to these videos every single week. I'm sitting there like a giddy young kid on Christmas morning when I see one of David's debunk videos come out.
David Greene: Yeah. The reason I did it just to be candid is I get angry at the message that I know is untrue. The person making it knows it is untrue. Anyone who's on this side, like behind the curtain can see knows that it's untrue because they're doing it to put money in their pockets at the expense of somebody else. Okay. Like they know that what they're giving you isn't actually valuable, but their wealth is based on how well they could deceive you into paying for their course, buying their program, giving them follows, whatever they're looking to do. And so the person who doesn't know any better, it's easy to be tricked.
So, I mean I feel like it's fair game. If you're going to lie to people, you've opened yourself up now where it's okay for me to call out that you're lying. I'm not doing this to people that are just like genuinely maybe saying something I disagree with. It's like outright deception, especially in the real estate space where someone will say, pay me $50,000, I'll teach you how to flip a house. You'll make a hundred grand on your first flip guaranteed. They’ll pay for it twice over.
Well, the reality is the majority of people who are going to take that course do not have the skills to flip a house. They will never flip a house. They'll probably lose money trying to do it. And I just want to call attention to the fact that when you see something and it's somewhere for free, it's nothing is for free. The motive of the person making the content is to get your eyeballs, get your follow, get your attention and to monetize that somehow. They're never going to do as well telling you the truth as, as if they just lie to you and they make it sound better than it would be.
And we are naive if we walk around assuming that the motives of the people that are in the same world that we live in are not to put money in their own pockets, because most of us are thinking the same thing. If you've ever asked the question, how do I get a higher split without having to work harder? How do I get them to choose me as the agent without having to become what they would want? If you're not asking the question, what does the market want? If you're asking the question, what do I want? You understand human nature works that way. And the people that you're following on social media are doing the exact same thing.
I'm in the room with those people, Nikki. They're not sitting there saying, how do we actually help people become wealthy? What they're saying is which video did you make and how many clicks did it get? What's your highest performing video? What did you put in the thumbnail? Oh, every time I say this, people click on it. So now the question becomes, how do I say more of this? Not, is this the best thing?
And the example that I give in the book is if you put a Snickers bar and a piece of broccoli next to a three-year-old, how many of them ever pick the broccoli? It is human nature that we're always going to take what we think is in our own best interest versus what really is. So that's why the parents should be controlling what people eat and the businessowners, the leaders, should be controlling what they want the partners that they have in that business to be doing. Like how the real estate agent should be behaving. And the person that you're following does not have a relationship with you. They do not care about you. They will never see you. They're not going to lose a wink of sleep if you wasted your money or your follow or whatever you did listening to them. So wake up and recognize that just because someone is smiling, doesn’t mean they’re your friend.
Well, I think it's a really important call out. And I also think that it's important for us all to look at them, look up in the mirror and ask ourselves, am I spending all of this time looking for the easiest path, not realizing that the obstacle is the way, not realizing that challenges come our way and give us a strength to transform into the best versions of ourselves. The only way that you can level up is almost always going to be to go through challenges. Going back to your fitness example, like the only way for me to get stronger is to lift the heavier weight, to struggle through lifting that weight until I become stronger and then I'm able to level up.
And by the way, like the hardest part about it is you don't do it once. You have to do it over and over and over and over and over again as you continuously level up, which really probably brings us to the last point in the book, which is investing the difference. So in this, you're talking about plan and skills that you've talked about in other books, but I also know you approach a little bit of a different way. So walk me through the third principle.
Well, there are some people out there that understand the first principle of defense. And these are the FI, the financial independent people. Man, they can live an entire day eating nothing but a packet of oatmeal. They make their own soap. They stitch their own clothes. They figured out defense, but they'll never become wealthy because you can only save so much money. And what I find is the people that are drawn to that usually are comfortable with the discipline element of building wealth, but they're uncomfortable with the personal growth. They just don't want to experience the rejection of going to work and failing and being told you're not enough and having to get back up and do it again.
Then you've got people that are addicted to the money. They're very good at making money. These are people that are willing to throw themselves out there and do well. And they're usually very driven. Frankly, a lot of the top producing real estate agents we know would fit into this profile. They want the accolades. They want the attention. They love being in the group. They love being in Gary's top 100. They love all the awards they can put and say, I'm so honored that I was able to blah, blah, blah.
And then we meet with them, and you see their profit margin is four percent on this $100 million of real estate that they sold. And they're working so hard, and they have nothing to show for it, but you go. They don't understand the delayed gratification elements or the self-discipline part. So you got to have both if you want to be able to save the money.
The third part is you got to do something with the money, which requires a whole new skill set. Now, you have to be able to put your money somewhere where it will grow over time, and it's not going to be easy. Owning real estate can be very frustrated. You have to pay attention to it, just its own little business when you're going to own it, right? You have to think critically. You have to resist the urge to buy the pretty house. Usually, you want to find the house that's below market value.
Some of the other principles I found is that usually, like you and I are both from -- I believe you're in the East Bay area, right? Same as me in Northern California.
That's where I did live. Now, I'm in SoCal. I'm back on the --
Either way though, both of those markets, Southern California and the Bay area, Northern California are hard to break into. There is a lot of demand to get those assets. It is very easy to say there's seven offers on that house. I don't want to have to get rejected over and over. I'm just going to go buy somewhere where there's like no competition. I'm going to go to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I'm going to buy a house because I don't have to compete. I don't want to have to overpay. Without realizing that the financial fundamentals of supply and demand, there's a reason that Albuquerque, who knows Albuquerque real estate right now might be hot too. In this hypothetical example, there's less people that want to own there --
Just want to say, you're going to have a lot of people from Albuquerque sending you some hate mail right now.
He doesn't realize that actually our day on market is half of what it used to be. Sorry. It's a hypothetical example. The easier places to buy, which give you immediate gratification because you get this feeling of progress that you close on the deal, will not appreciate as much both in the value and the rents over time as the hard places to buy, right? So it takes more commitment, more diligence, more putting yourself out there to get the investment property in the better area. Then you're probably going to have to buy something ugly because you had a better chance of getting it because less of your competition wanted it. Then you're probably going to have to do something to improve it cosmetically, as well as functionally. That can be stressful.
There are skills that have to be brought into this with managing a contractor. You're going to fail. You're going to think the contractor took advantage of you. You're going to wrestle with bitterness. You're going to want to say, screw the whole thing. It's a whole new journey that you're going to have to get through to build the skills where you can actually make money with real estate investing, but that is the only way to do it.
There is no way. Like you said, the obstacle is the way.
I use the example in the book. What would you think of a human who went to the gym for two hours and left rushing the dirt off their shoulder, feeling confident, saying I made it through my whole workout without touching a weight. I didn't break sweat the whole time. I was able to avoid working out for the whole two hours. I'm the man. You would think they were stupid.
We act like that in business. I don't want to do the hard thing. I went to work all day and I managed to not make a phone call, not lead generate, not deal with the contractor, not learn anything, not get rejected. And I made it out of the office unscathed with my ego in check. Well, you're just going to be financially unfit from that approach, right? Like this isn't just David saying, I'm an old man and I want people to work hard. It is the way that the world operates. There's no way to get there without it.
But the good news is no one else wants to take this journey. This is how we became top producing agents, right? I'm really not the best personality to sell houses. I only became a top racing agent because no one else wanted to do it. No one else wanted to become what needed to become. Nobody else wants to learn the things that I've learned about investing in real estate or adding value or picking the market, and delaying wealth, waiting.
So the third pillar of investing is about educating yourself and also being willing to delay gratification. I know you really want that Mercedes. I know it would be fun. But if you put that same $80,000 into this property in a great area, and then you waited 20 years. You might buy it for $900,000, and it's going to be worth $7 million 30 years later. You can buy a whole fleet of Mercedes. You can probably buy a Mercedes dealership for the money if you get into the right spot.
And so the reason I think most people don't succeed with the third pillar is they don't like delayed gratification and they don't want to jump into learning a new asset class all over again, because usually when you get that money, you've done something else well. You got to humble yourself and start all the way over and say, now I have to learn how to manage money. Like what you just said about what Gary mentioned, like if you choose to be financially illiterate, you're choosing not to act like an adult. It's not enough just to be good at saving money and making money. You also have to learn the third pillar of being a good steward of managing it.
Pillars of Wealth was a great title to the book, but I think that you should rename it as a subtext, I'm just an old man and I want everybody to work hard and I'm also getting you a shirt made. Just as an aside. Well, I think this is a really important conversation, David, because I do think that we're in the era of the highlight Reel and everyone's just showing the best parts. And no one actually wants to talk about the fact that anything worth having, anything worth building takes hard work. And there's this idea in a lot of different areas of business and investing that you can just sort of set it and forget it.
Like there's this idea you talked about earlier in real estate that a lot of people talk about seventh level, which is this idea that one day you can work really hard and then just sort of hand off your team. And I have yet to see anybody do that successfully. I have absolutely yet to see anyone hand it off and not have to pay attention to it, like really authentically, because a lot of them will say that that happened. And then I start digging in there like, well, actually I meet with these five leaders multiple times a week and I do my sales meeting. I'm like, okay, so you are actively still running this business, which by the way, there's nothing wrong with. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. You can grow it to a point that maybe you don't have to spend as much time here as you used to, but it's never going to be set it and forget it.
And I think it's the same thing in real estate too, that a lot of these sort of social media gurus talk about real estate investing and they're like, it's amazing. You get to just buy these houses and expend all of this money. And then, overnight, you're going to be a multimillionaire and you never have to look at it again. It's like magic. I'm like, no, that's not how it works. As someone who invests in real estate myself, I can tell you that does it need to be your full-time job? No, but it requires effort. It's absolutely not set it and forget it. And I have to imagine that this is probably one of the questions that you get the most, like which investment can I make that I'll make the most money and I don’t have to do anything with it?
Yeah. That's exactly right. And the minute they asked that question, they're saying without realizing it, I'm not ready to be well because life won't work that way. The same is what job can I get that where I can do the least amount of work and make the most money? A lot of people, Nikki, I've been seeing in the last 10 years. I mean, I knew a guy that about a year ago, he said, I got my eight-hour job down to two hours a day. The rest of the time I just look at real estate. I managed my Airbnbs. And he was like proud of the fact that he had whittled his job down to that little work.
And I had said, I don't know that I'd be as excited about that as you are, because at some point your boss is going to figure that out. I promise you, they don't see it right now because there's so much freaking money to be made. They're all on offense trying to figure out how do we get it? And they're not paying attention to their employees. But when that spigot turns off, because it always will in some cycle, now you start looking at the expenses and not the income.
We all saw that from our businesses. Okay. And when they realize they only need you for two hours a day, not eight, they can lay off three of you and keep one of you. And that one person has an eight-hour day. That is exactly what happened to that person. And they came back, and they were like, you were exactly right. I thought I had life figured out and I found the cheat code and now I'm unemployed. What do I do?
I just got off the meeting with my loan team and we had that exact same conversation where I said, guys, I know for years you complained. Oh, my gosh, the clients have all these questions. They keep asking me stuff. I sent them the terms and conditions. Why don't they just read it? I see the sticky with everything. I see it was short term rental operators. I sent you the check in instructions. Why are you calling me about the Wi Fi? Because human beings do that.
The same reason that I want to talk to a person, not a Filipino VA, when I call Chase Bank. And I don't want to sit through a phone tree of having to go through a bunch of things. Like automation's great when you're the owner. It's not great when you're the person who's experiencing it. Stop trying to find the cheat code to life. Just find a way to hire the better people to do that work.
If you want a short-term rental that's going to survive in this downturn, you're going to have to actually communicate with the guests to get that five-star review. They don't want to just be told check the check in instructions. If you're the loan officer, and you're frustrated that the client has questions that you have to answer, and you just want them to read your previous email, you're the person that can be replaced. You're the one AI is going to come take that job.
The easier you fight to make your job, the easier it's going to be replaced by technology when it improves. So let's stop trying to figure out how do I subconsciously not do the work? You're just setting yourself up to be the first person who gets laid off because you bring the least value. Let's take the opposite road. How do I do something harder than other people? How do I build a skill that is difficult to build? How do I make myself invaluable to either the job, the client or the marketplace, whatever it is so that I'm the one that keeps my position when everybody else gets laid off and I get more market share?
I promise from the 40 years I've been alive and what I've experienced, when you take the uphill road, the more difficult road, you end up with ultimately less stress, a better life, a more fulfilling life and less worry about finances. When you take the downhill road, and you're always asking how to make it easier, you end up accumulating stress. You're always worried about something. You're constantly fearing the layoffs or the market changes.
And so the book was written to give practical examples of exactly what people can do to get better at these three pillars, as well as encouragement that this is the path that you can take to get out of a financial worry.
There's a saying that you get to choose your hard, right? That being physically fit is hard, but so is being unhealthy. Being in a relationship is hard, but so is being lonely. Being financially sound is hard, and by the way, so as not being financially. You just get to choose which one it's going to be.
And I want to bring us back to the beginning of this, which is you gave a couple of relationship examples. And I think this is a mirror again of a core character issue that we're seeing in so many people, which is they're looking outside of themselves saying, well, I want to be with the most amazing partner possible. And I want to attract this type of business partner or this type of employee or this type of income or whatever it is, like this person, and I want to attract this. But you don't attract that unless you become that because the people who are that, aren't going to want to hang around with you. And so if you want to level up your relationship, then you need to level up. You want to level up your finances, then you need to level up. You want to level up your income, then you need to level up.
And to your point, if it feels too good to be true, probably is. I mean, we go through these market cycles where things are really good. And I always say we're just in seasons. We're always in seasons. The seasons don't ever last forever. And if you're in a season where you're getting to do very little work for a lot of money, like enjoy it while it lasts, because it's probably not going to last. Like summer's not going to be around forever. Eventually, it's going to get cold, and that season's going to be over.
And I would submit what you're saying with, I tell people often, the road of average, it's just really crowded. Like there's a lot of people who are looking to do exactly what you just said, which is how little can I do for the most return? And not in the way of like, how much can I leverage myself or how can I make the biggest impact? Or what's the one thing I could do such that by doing it makes everything else easier and necessary. Like we talk about, they're actually saying like, how little effort can I expend here?
And I always tell people that if you ask yourself, how can I be of most value, how can I level up the most, how can I become the best version of myself, there's a lot less traffic there because not many people are asking themselves that question. So success, ironically enough, actually gets to be a lot easier. Is that what you found in your journey?
You need to take what you just said right there, and that needs to go all over your social media. That was absolute fire. I love what you just said. And I know it's not just your opinion. That is fact, because if you look at what we all want in our own life, none of us say, Nikki, where's the most mediocre taco in L.A.? How do I find the average road and how do I walk it with everyone else? When we want to go eat, we say, what's the best tacos there is? No one says I need a mediocre real estate agent that's going to represent me. They ask their friends who is the best person that you know? If you are not the best, your name doesn't get passed on to someone else in a referral. It doesn't show up in the Yelp search when somebody is looking for the best taco. There is no way around what you just said. You have to go that road.
And it's funny because this is true in wealth, but I'm passionate about it because like you said, I see it in other things. I see it in dating. I see so many lonely people what are just, where's my person? Why can't I find someone who's going to love me for me? And the world keeps telling them, you're a unique, special snowflake and you don't have to do anything. And there's someone out there who's not going to ask you to change a thing, darling. You're perfect. Yet none of us are saying, where do I find my person that doesn't have to change at all? It doesn't have to be a good human. And I'm just going to love them for them with all their -- none of us are looking for that. We're all asking the question of what's the best taco. What's the best partner? What's the best job? What's the best opportunity?
So the only way that you can logically find that is by becoming that. And what I found the way that nature works is when you become the best partner for another person, you have your pick of the litter. You have all of the people that are looking for someone that are going to be fighting to get you and you get to pick the one and that's what we all want in life. We want to have so many clients coming to us that we can pick the best buyers and we can pick the best listings. We want to be able to say, no, I'm not going to take the listing from hell because the person is going to drive me nuts. Well, you don't get the right to do that unless you become what they want.
So practically speaking, the advice that I want to give everyone is ask what women want in a relationship and become that. It's going to be hard. You're probably not going to say there's a ton of women out there that want a guy that's really overweight, and isn't very confident, and isn't very funny and is boring to be around. More or less, there's probably a lot of things that they're going to look for. You focus on becoming that, you're going to be able to have the girlfriend that you're saying. And vice versa, right? What are men looking for? How do we operate? I tend to focus a lot of energy on the podcast that explain this is what human beings like.
And I do the same thing in business. What does a client want? They want a person that makes them feel this way. They want a person that's available. They want a person that gets clarity. They want a person that can be direct. How do you become that? Well, Nikki, I'm scared. I mean, I don't want to make videos on social media. It doesn't feel comfortable for me. Okay. The note, but the clients don't care. They don't care if it feels comfortable for you or not. They just want to know, do you give them the feeling of confidence? You've got two options. You avoid it because it's hard or you get comfortable with it so that people can find you and you can have the business that you want.
And I love what you're saying here because I feel like we're just giving people the truth. This is what their big brother, their big sister, the mom that they never had, the dad they never had, didn't tell them. And the good news is that no one else is doing this. So if you're the person that becomes what the opposite gender wants, or you're the person that becomes what the client needs or what the market wants, you're going to take more than your fair share of it, and you can become very well.
And by the way, just flip, like flip the scenario to you. Do you want to be with a partner who's asking themselves, like, what is the least that I can do and get the most? Like that's what I always tell people. Or do you want to be the client of a professional who's saying what's the lowest possible standard I can provide and still get paid? Or the employee who says, what's the least amount of work? You just don't.
If you put yourself in the other side scenario, you know that that's not the best path forward. David, we dropped some fire on this episode. Thank you. This has been really fun. I wish I could turn this into a two-part or I wish we could stay on for even longer. So I think that our fans will probably ask for you to come back if you're willing. And we never leave this episode or this podcast without asking what's the one thing that if somebody is listening, you would want them to take away from this?
I want them to recognize that they're in a competition and it's okay to admit you're in a competition. Competition does not have to be negative. It actually tends to bring out the best of us. When you remove competition, you tend to find that you get less of an effort. So you see this with professional athletes. Usually, the year when their contract is expiring is when they play their best. And then when they get a really big contract is when more of them, their performance goes down.
Within a socialistic environment, you see that people are not compensated or incentivized to give their best, and so they slowly stop giving their best. Competition is something we should strive to be. And it does not have to be unhealthy or toxic. You can be competing with someone and also encouraging them to be better. In fact, that's what a team is. When I was playing basketball, I wanted to be the best player on that team, but I also wanted my teammates to be even better so that we would win. Winning is a competition.
Business works that way too. It is okay to recognize I am competing with other agents to get that listing and I'm competing with other people in the marketplace to be able to get to be the best taco in town. But falling in love with the process of becoming great will keep it so that you enjoy every day of being in that position. And really, that's the only way that I've found that you have to choose your hard. You might as well fall in love with the hard that will make you wealthier and happier and have better relationships and better friendships and have a more fulfilling life.
So good, David. I would encourage everyone to pick up a copy of this book. It's obviously sound investment advice, but it's also just really a lot of sound life advice. And we'll give you a path forward to getting to where you want to be. David, if people want to connect with you, where can they find you?
You can find me at davidgreen24.com or they can find me on social media. Instagram is probably the most common at @davidgreen24.
Thank you so much for being here today.
Thanks, you too.
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