Risk Takiing Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
student loan

How My $5,000 Student Loan Became a Multi-Million Dollar Business

Before I tell this story, let me say up front – I used the student loan in this story to pay tuition.  That said, let me tell you how that led to a multi-million dollar company.

Most people know me as the Founder of BNI.  However, I actually started a property management company three years before I started BNI.

My $5,000 Student Loan

I was recently going through my old files and ran across the paperwork for an old student loan that I took out during graduate school.  It was 1982, and I had applied to USC for a doctoral degree.  I really wanted to do my Ph.D. there, but I also had to figure out how I would pay for it if I was accepted.  Several years earlier, I had been accepted to Occidental College for my bachelor’s degree.  I was offered a 50% scholarship to go there. However, I couldn’t afford the other 50% (nor could my family).

Therefore, I went to a community college and then a state college, because that’s what I could afford (by the way, they were great schools).  Although I didn’t know how I could pay for the doctoral program at USC, I didn’t care. That was my big goal. Therefore, I applied and I was accepted.  I received a couple of small scholarships. However, I still had to pay the lion’s share of my tuition myself.

At the time, I had a full-time job in Los Angeles. However, I wasn’t making enough money to cover living expenses and the doctoral program.  So, I took another job. Working as many hours as I could so I could save up enough money to pay for that semester’s tuition.  I discovered that one semester at USC cost me more than my entire bachelor’s degree!  But that was my vision, and that’s what I worked towards.

I worked the two jobs AND I applied for a student loan of $5,000 to help pay for a semester at the university of my dreams. Having no idea if I’d get the loan, I applied. I worked to make the money in case I didn’t get the loan, however.

Well, a few months later (right before I was to start at USC), I was approved for the loan!  The thing is, I had also saved $5,000 from my extra work to pay much of the tuition in case I was not approved.  So, I had $5,000 in cash and $5,000 available as a student loan.  What should I do?  Should I use my $5,000 cash to pay for school, or should I take the low-interest loan for school???

Well, I knew I couldn’t keep working long hours for the next several years. Therefore, I decided to take the low-interest loan and use the $5,000 in cash that I had earned and applied it as a down payment on a condominium.  And that’s where my journey began in the investment property business.  You see, I flipped that condo a few years later for a larger house.  I then flipped that house a few years later for another larger house, which I then flipped for another two homes.  Eventually, I flipped those two homes to pay about 50% of a commercial property that I was building in Texas!

The original loan allowed me to take my $5,000 in cash and turn into a $1.8 million dollar commercial property. Of course, my wife and I made other cash investments over the years. We turned this little company I started into a multi-million dollar business with nine commercial properties and dozens of tenants.  All of this happened because I got a $5,000 student loan. I worked really, really hard to earn money and invest it – not blow it on things that wouldn’t matter decades later.

This is a story about the use of leverage and the commitment to discipline. 

Leveraging your money and using discipline can lead to incredible success.  I used leverage and discipline later to help build the BNI business.

By the way, I paid off all my student loans including interest years ago.  It was a proud day for me.  However, four weeks later, I got a letter from another university that read: “Congratulations Dr. Misner, your daughter has been accepted to our school.  You can go to this portal to make the tuition payments on her behalf.”

This time around, I didn’t need student loans.

‘No-Win’ Scenario

How I Approach The ‘No-Win’ Scenario

When I was an undergraduate in college, I needed to take one more “lab class” (a course that gives hands-on experience related to the topic). I’d taken lab classes in science and the only lab courses left according to my counselor was a lab class in mathematics. Now, I did fine with basic mathematics but the higher-level courses in Algebra and Geometry were just not my passion. OK, full disclosure, I hated those courses. So, when my counselor said that was the only choice left – I went on a quest, a quest to go through every single page of the course catalog for every single department throughout the University (except the Math department), to find any other class with a lab that I hadn’t already taken. I felt like it was a ‘No-Win’ scenario.

After a painstaking search through the huge catalog, I found one course that fit the bill. It was a course in the Hotel and Restaurant Management School at the University. The course was in Enology (the study of wines). The lab part was – wine tasting! Now, you might think that I was excited at first but the truth is – I hated wine. I really didn’t like it. The only thing is, I hated math more than I hated wine so – Enology it was!

I took this revelation to my department counselor and he said – “No! you can’t take that as your lab!” I said “Why not? It is a lab and it meets all the university requirements for me to complete my degree?” He said, “because it’s unheard of to use that as a lab in this department.” I then said, “But is it prohibited? Where in the department requirements does it say that it can’t be used?” He cocked his head and looked at me over the top of his glasses and said, “alright Misner, give me the paper, I’ll sign it and get out of here.” I smiled and said, “Thank you very much professor,” and walked out with the paperwork to complete my Enology wine lab.

At that moment, I had no idea that the course I was taking would become a life-long passion. Remember, I didn’t really like wine back then. The course was much more difficult than students thought it would be. We had an almost 40% drop out rate for the class because it wasn’t just about “tasting” wines. It was about the wine industry and wine regulations so the tests were pretty tough. The tasting was only a part of the class. Today, it is a passion for me. I built out a cellar at my home in Austin (pictured here) that will hold 1,600 bottles (it’s not full – yet but I’m working on it) and I just started working on a Sommelier Certification just for fun. This path all began because I didn’t believe in the “No-Win scenario” as the only possibility relating to a challenge.

The ‘No-Win’ Scenario

I share this story with you because I truly believe that there are ‘almost’ always options to a no-win situation if you work hard to find alternative solutions (maybe even push the envelope a bit). For the Star Trek nerds out there – I’d like to think I’d pass the Kobayashi Maru simulation (the no-win scenario mentioned several times Star Trek).

What no-win situation have you been confronted with and how did you find a solution? I’d love for you to share it here.

Fear of Rejection

The Fear of Rejection

The fear of rejection is a powerful driver in most people’s lives. It dictates what we take risks on, it makes us hold back, and it even hinders us from reaching our potential.

The fear of rejection is an emotion that many of us carry in our personal lives, but it can very easily seep into our professional one as well. We all come to that nexus point in our lives: we can do something, or we can do nothing. The fear of rejection almost held me back from promoting my book, The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret, because I was worried some bookstores wouldn’t want to carry my book. But you know what I realized?

Some will, some won’t–so what?

Watch the video below for more on conquering the fear of rejection.

Only taking the risk could result in success. 

Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you from doing what you are excited about. If you are excited about your business, don’t let rejection stop you. You have to just know that when it comes to asking somebody to do something; some will, some won’t, so what?  It’s not the end of the world.  For me, I just had to put myself in the frame of mind that what I was facing was simply not that big a thing. I now do this same thing whenever I’m faced with a situation which opens up the possibility for rejection.  I just tell myself that if someone doesn’t want to do what I’m asking, that’s fine. It’s not that big a deal.

Referral Marketing: Know the Risks, Reap the Rewards

ID-100252028During a radio interview, the host of the program asked me whether I consider referral marketing the “safest” form of advertising. Without the slightest hesitation, I confidently answered, “By all means, no!” He was visibly shocked by that answer. I went on to explain that I believe very strongly in the tremendous benefits that referral marketing can bring. However, there are unique risks associated with referral marketing that aren’t an issue with commercials or other forms of advertising.

When you give someone a referral, you’re putting your own reputation on the line. If your referral partner does a good job, it enhances your reputation. But if he does a poor job, your reputation will likely suffer. As I said, the payoffs of referral marketing are immense—when it’s done correctly. But referral marketing involves a really big risk: giving away a piece of your reputation every time you give a referral to someone. When you tell a valued customer that a friend of yours is going to take good care of her, you must have confidence in that friend.

But what happens if your friend lets your customer down? It comes back to haunt you. Your customer begins to lose faith in you, and because of that loss of faith, you just might lose that customer down the road. This is why it’s so important to develop strong relationships with your referral partners. Once those strong connections are forged, you can rest easy, knowing that when you tell someone a business associate or a networking partner is going to take good care of him or her, that’s what will happen.

 

How to Combat the Fear of Failure

We all deal with the fear of failure from time to time.  I know I certainly do.  It’s a part of life and it can sometimes cripple us to the point where we’re so afraid of failing at something that we’d rather not even try.  So, what can we do about it?  How can we move past it in order to achieve our greatest goals, dreams, and desires?

Well, the answer is simple.  We stop worrying about whether or not we are going to fail because–guess what?–we very well may and that’s okay!  It’s inevitable; we are all going to be successful at some things and we’re going to fail at other things.  The key is to refuse to define ourselves by our failures and commit instead to both learning from our failures and defining ourselves by our successes.

In this video, I tell a personal story about a time when I was virtually frozen in fear because I was so preoccupied with the prospect of failure, and I explain how it helped me to realize the key to combatting the fear of failure.  The fact is, if we always try, we can eventually win.  But if we let fear keep us from even trying, we will fail without a doubt.

Is there something that you currently want to accomplish, big or small, but haven’t attempted to start because you’re afraid of failing?  If so, make a list of one action you can take each day (no matter how small) for the next week which will help get the ball rolling and move you toward accomplishing what you want to do.  Then, when the week is over, repeat the process of mapping out and completing small daily actions every coming week–before you know it, you will have made real progress!

If you have a story about a time fear of failure stopped you from doing something, or a time you overcame your fear of failure and accomplished something important to you, please share it in the comment forum below–I’d love to hear from you!

Referral Marketing Is Risky–It’s Also Rewarding

In a radio interview I once did, the host of the program asked me whether I consider referral marketing the safest form of advertising. Without the slightest hesitation, I confidently answered, “By all means, no.” Based on his response, I’m sure he was shocked by that answer.

Photo courtesy of Zuzzuillo at FreeDigtalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Zuzzuillo at FreeDigtalPhotos.net

I went on to explain that I believe very strongly in the tremendous benefits that word-of –mouth marketing can bring. However, there are unique risks associated with referral advertising that are not an issue in commercial or other forms of advertising.

When you give a referral, you give a little of your reputation away. If the business you’ve referred someone to does a good job, it helps your reputation. But if it does a poor job, your reputation may be hurt.

As I said, the payoffs of referral marketing are immense—when it’s done correctly.

But referral marketing involves a really big risk: giving away a piece of your reputation every time you give a referral to someone. When you tell a valued customer that a friend of yours is going to take good care of them, you must have confidence in that friend.

But what happens if your friend lets your customer down? It comes back to haunt you. Your customer begins to lose faith in you and, because of that loss of faith, you just might lose that customer down the road. This is why it’s so important to develop strong relationships with those to whom you’re referring business and vice versa. Once those strong connections are forged you can rest easy, knowing when you tell someone a business associate or a networking partner is going to take good care of him or her, that’s what will happen.

Do you have a story others might learn from about a time when referral marketing really paid off for you, or a story about how you experienced the unique risks associated with referral marketing firsthand?  Please share your experiences in the comment forum below.  I’d love to hear from you–thanks!

 

Referral Marketing: Know the Risks, Reap the Rewards

In a radio interview I once did, the host of the program asked me whether I consider referral marketing the safest form of advertising. Without the slightest hesitation, I confidently answered, “By all means, no.” Based on his response, I’m sure he was shocked by that answer.

I went on to explain that I believe very strongly in the tremendous benefits that word-of –mouth marketing can bring. However, there are unique risks associated with referral advertising that are not an issue in commercial or other forms of advertising.

When you give a referral, you give a little of your reputation away. If the business you’ve referred someone to does a good job, it helps your reputation. But if it does a poor job, your reputation may be hurt.

As I said, the payoffs of referral marketing are immense—when it’s done correctly. But referral marketing involves a really big risk: giving away a piece of your reputation every time you give a referral to someone. When you tell a valued customer that a friend of yours is going to take good care of them, you must have confidence in that friend.

But what happens if your friend lets your customer down? It comes back to haunt you. Your customer begins to lose faith in you and, because of that loss of faith, you just might lose that customer down the road. This is why it’s so important to develop strong relationships with those to whom you’re referring business and vice versa. Once those strong connections are forged you can rest easy, knowing when you tell someone a business associate or a networking partner is going to take good care of him or her, that’s what will happen.

Do you have a story others might learn from about a time when referral marketing really paid off for you, or a story about how you experienced the unique risks associated with referral marketing firsthand?  Please share your experiences in the comment forum below.  I’d love to hear from you–thanks!

Adversity and Risk Taking

One law of human nature is to want more–more horsepower, more serenity, more intimacy, more money, more power, more life.  But getting more is often an uncomfortable business.  To reach the juiciest apples, we have to climb high, reach out, and risk falling off the ladder.  Such risk taking tends to be uncomfortable–physically, financially, socially, especially emotionally.  We spend a lot of time feeling awkward, inept, out of our element.  Terror and exhilaration dance a reckless tango on our nerves.

Reaching for more takes learning, and learning makes us feel like children again, with all the excitement, wonder, and fear that spiced our earliest years.  And it’s not what we’re learning, it’s where we’re starting from and how far we’re trying to reach that make the difference.  Learning is relative.  The experience of a paraplegic rediscovering the complexities of walking is as intense as that of a teenager learning to drive, a downhill skier learning to snowboard the half-pipe, a manicurist learning to run their own shop.  What is routine for one is unimaginable success for another.

In learning, we all start from adversity.  We don’t make enough money, can’t stand our job, don’t know enough, can’t climb the mountain.  Adversity may creep into our awareness as dissatisfaction, a natural manifestation of personal growth, or it may be forced on us by accident or catastrophic illness.  Whatever the case, we desire intensely to move from adversity to triumph.  And in moving, we encounter new ideas, learn new skills, acquire new beliefs, adopt new attitudes.  We face down adversity and stretch ourselves toward success.  We improve.

To improve, we must weigh the desired end against the pain of getting there.  No risk, no gain.  If we opt for comfort and ease, we forgo the rewards of accomplishment.  But if we take to heart what professional athletes are taught and “do something every day that scares you a little,” we stretch our boundaries and move into new territory.  We gain in self-confidence, which makes it easier to push back the limits and tackle bigger challenges.  We convert nervous energy–the jitters–into kinetic energy.  We become unstoppable.

Do you have a story about how you took a risk or faced adversity in order to grow?  If so, I’d love for you to share it in the comment forum below.  You never know who you’ll inspire . . .

 

 

 

 

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