Investor and REO Mentor
Bruce Norris is joined this week by Tony Alvarez. Tony has been a great friend of Bruce’s over the years and has accomplished a lot. He also wears a lot of hats in that he is a buy/sell manager, a landlord, and he is an REO mentor. He is quite an addition to the industry, and Bruce was so excited that he talked him into speaking the first time years ago.
Bruce thanked him for being willing to share everything he knew since most people would not do it. Tony said he has not looked at all this and identified with it. It is not who Tony is, but it is what he does. He follows the rules, and it works. He does not make anything more than this out of it. Bruce said when most people have something working for them, they don’t want to share it. Tony said he had this experience, and one of the things he likes to share that he really enjoys is to interview other successful people.
This year he did a little more of this since he put together an investor club in the market up in the Antelope Valley. He got to go out and do this, and he actually had a bit of a weird experience. He had a couple people he met at California Comeback who wanted to know more about working with agents. He gave them a copy of the books, and since they were in the Fresno area he wanted to go up and interview with them. He drove up there, and when he arrived he saw they had a change of heart and neglected to say anything with him. He hit a wall of fear as soon as he walked in to the room. He asked them what exactly they were afraid of, and they told him they were afraid someone would find out what they were doing. They cited a couple examples of people they had shared what they do with. He asked them what they do that was so proprietary and from whom did they learn it. They answered that they got a lot from Ward Hannigan. Tony just about fell over in shock that they would believe they invented it. He immediately stopped them and said they were not going to do the interview, but rather he would come back in about 5-6 years when they were over it. Maybe then they could talk since investors do go through a maturing process.
Most of these fears will eventually go away when you wake up and realize that it is really about your efforts. You can tell anybody about what you do, but if they do not have the desire or fight within them to take the steps then it will never happen. Bruce said what is interesting about Tony’s approach when he deals with REOs is he really tries to build an aura of when something good comes along, the name that goes off in their head is Tony. However, there is a whole other group of investors that flip properties. This is not a bad thing either, and if your name is on the top of their list you will receive a call. Tony said he did not want to take anything away from these guys in Fresno since in some ways he had the same mentality. However, he does not remember ever being afraid of competition like this. He focuses most of his energies on his own efforts and his own actions.
When Tony speaks to anyone who asks him what they should do to get started or increase their business, he tells them it is about relationships if you are in it long-term. However, if you are in it short-term and only want to go in briefly to make some quick money while the market is low or appreciating, then in your mind you may not see relationships as a real asset. However, you have to really look at this as building a business and not just chasing deals. It is the level one investing that is all about chasing the deals, and there is nothing wrong with this since we all do it. However, sometimes you wake up and see that the deals are abundant. It’s like chasing salmon; when it comes twice a year there are nothing but salmon in the river. However, when the salmon run is over you do not want to be out there trying to catch one since you will be unhappy. It is about building a business, and this takes relationships and other people. You have to learn to respect the value of others in order to help you get to where you want to go. If you miss this point, then you really miss the big picture. It is interesting to hear people with different philosophies and what they are willing to share.
Bruce had just spoken with somebody, and the person who mentored them made the shift to conducting their business more honorably. Tony said it is funny that people would see this as an actual choice you have to make. This was such a funny comment, “Now that I have made it, I can be honorable.” Tony said we are ruled by emotions, but we see the world through our own perceptions and point of view based on our own history and conditioning. People get comfortable in this and never question their own perception. They say what the rules are since maybe it was what they experienced growing up. Your first experience buying a car may have not been a good one. A lot of times people will run into somebody who really doesn’t understand how to inform their customer to the point where they want to buy something as opposed to sell, sell, and sell. For the rest of your existence, you are then going to think that dealing with a car salesman or used car salesman is the same everywhere and you do not want to deal with it. You have to realize that for every different human being that does their job, you have a whole different mentality and way of doing business. If you never question this or seek a different type of person or way of doing it, then you are paying the price of that limitation.
Bruce said when you are in the education business, one of the things that comes up is you could lay out the perfect day. However, what gets in the way of people is their perception of themselves. They may be uncomfortable making a low offer that could make them profit. If their mental makeup is such where they are weak in an area, then you realize that training is not just a methodology of what you do in the morning. You have to start with the core of the person. Tony said when Bruce first invited him to speak, he said everything in itself we do is a school, lesson, and time to learn. You have to be really open-minded and pay attention, but a lot of us do not ask ourselves this kind of stuff. Tony learned a lot about himself going through this process because he had zero confidence in himself. When Bruce first asked him to speak, his ego said he thinks you’re great. The next thing right behind it came, “He doesn’t have a clue that you’re an idiot.”
Tony did not really value in a sense what he accomplished and did not see it as a big deal. It was just the result of doing a good job. When he went up there, a metamorphosis happened right in front of Bruce and everyone. During the first break, a man walked all the way down the aisle and told Tony he did not think he could do what Tony does. He thought it was funny since he was not sure what the guy was talking about by saying he did not know what he does. Tony talks to other people, but the guy just said he did not think it would work for him. What it really was is the same thing Tony went through when asked to speak. This guy did not think anybody would want to hear him or like him. Tony then remembered what Bruce did to shock him into changing his thinking. This happened five minutes before he was ready to go on, and he was the last man after three days of real estate speakers. Tony did not know what he was going to tell the people since everything had been covered. Bruce looked at Tony with a very serious face, changed his demeanor, and asked him if he had done this or not. Tony said he did, and Bruce asked if he planned on lying to anybody. This shook Tony to the core because this is a character trait now. There was no reason for him to lie. Bruce told him to go in, tell them honestly what he did, then leave the stage. Four hours later, they would not let him get off the stage. This was a great moment.
Bruce said this was the greatest reception he had seen of any speaker. However, he knew it was going to happen, and this was why he put him last. It’s funny how you can have your confidence in one area, but this does not always transfer to the new experience. Bruce knew this was going to happen, and it was fun for him to see. Bruce felt very fortunate that the industry has Tony Alvarez. Tony watched Bruce speak one time, and he thought it was interesting why Tony would go up to him to speak. There is no time like the present to start acting honorable. When Bruce spoke, it was at the Apartment Owners Association in front of 400-500 people. There was a Q and A session, and Tony told Bruce why he came up to the stage. He told him he was an apartment owner, while Bruce was talking about single-family market. He asked how this would affect him, and there was a complete silence in the room. Bruce stopped in the middle, chuckled a little, and said he really did not know since he was a single-family guy. He could not tell him exactly what was going to happen to the apartment. Everybody in the room chuckled a little because there as a stress relief in that moment. Bruce told the truth, and the end result was very different. The trust actually raised him up above at this moment. Bruce said when you teach people and they say they have no real estate experience, to him that is so secondary to who you bring to the business.
The comment he made at the Apartment Owners Association was so much easier to make because of his experience as an electrical sales person. Flora Spiegel was mayor of Corona and had survived a war camp, so she was a tough cookie. He had never met her, but he know she was at the counter of Corona Industrial Electric. He came up to them and told them he was Bruce from Jarvis Electric Supplies, his company he worked for at the time, and he wanted to quote them on some of their supplies. She told him he could and brought out a plan she could barely lift. She plopped it on the counter and told him she wanted him to do the Switzger Takeoff. Bruce told her you would have to be a genius to do this. Without hesitation, he told her that even if he looked at it all week she would not be able to trust the takeoff that he would do. She told him, “I’m so glad you said that young man, I can work with you. They went into the back, and she ordered about $10,000 worth of materials. Bruce said he would never forget this lesson ever. It was known as looping, and this is something Bruce will not do. If he does not know, he is not going to fake it. Some people are smarter than you and are setting you up to see if you will loop. As soon as he said he would take a look at it, Flora would have put him in the trash can and said she would never trust him.
It is interesting how people make decisions, and a lot of people that could really benefit from you will run you through a character examination. It happens in a flash because it has to be an honest person. He did not hesitate to say he did not know because he really didn’t know. In that moment, you find out who you are. Tony said it is really not an effort to be the kind of person who most people want to love to work with. It does not take a lot of effort, and in fact it takes more effort to become someone who your mind tells you that you need to become in order to take advantage of the situation and get ahead of everyone else. A lot of it has to do with a competitive mindset. The question is what you see in the grandest of sports figures. If you look through history, it is not about name calling.
Tony respects those who are hardcore but really respected and learned to respect other team members. One player, Vince Lombardi, made a comment about how when two teams enter the field, if one walks off the field you know how the others are feeling. He said towards the end if he could take one thing back, it would be that statement. If you got to that field, you are victorious. The Millionaire Maker was hand selected for very specific reasons because he knew an audience was there who was going to relate to somebody, and yet there were those five people there who all did it differently. You ask them if they can be a Mike Cantu, Tony Alvarez, Charles Harris, or Jack Fullerton. Everybody did it their way and did it successfully. What Bruce was trying to say to an audience was you are going to find that you are going to be an original. However, you are going to see five people pulled off the business who are creating a life they would not have otherwise had.
What was fun about this was realizing that this actually happened. To bring Tony and Bruce together the way it was, Tony thought at the time Bruce was a pretty smart guy. However, it did not happen until he was up at the end of the whole presentation that Bruce was a genius. It was genius for Bruce to bring the people together the way he did. If Bruce had originally told Tony who he was bringing together, he would have never thought the end result would be what it was. He left that place and made friends with people who were strangers only the day prior. They became tight, and he became friends with Mike Cantu both because of who he is and because of Bruce.
All the people such as Mike and Jack are those Tony learned to respect because he fused with them immediately. He went on to see a lot of the students who attended the seminar and didn’t know the difference between a deed of trust and their birth certificate go on to make a million dollars in just the next year. Some of the people came from nowhere and had nothing to do with real estate. This is powerful stuff, not just a conversation. Bruce’s favorite line in the movie Rudy was when his dad was trying to talk sense to him and said, “Notre Dame is for rich kids, not for us. You could make a good living at the factory.” Rudy then said he was not going to be constrained like this. To Bruce, that was what his event was and he is glad to be doing it again this year.
Mike and Tony will be participating, but he has not selected the other people since there are new people with new skills. Tony wanted Bruce to do this every year it was so phenomenal. What impressed Tony was that they were all real people all doing their thing. None of them were professional speaker in any shape or form, but they had a tremendous impact on the audience. It was also collective, not just one. Everyone was bringing their best. Tony learned more on that day and restructured what he was doing simply from this event. He remembered thinking after Mike was done what there was to talk about. He covered everything possible under the sun. Bruce did something very special, and the people not there in attendance did not get it.
Bruce said the missing piece is that people say there is a specific way to do a short sale or REO, but then the same people keep pulling off getting the inventory. This is because of who they bring to the business and part of what this particular event covers. Bruce pursued karate, and he had the hardest time matching up black belt and Bruce Norris’s name together. Despite the success in other things, he kept saying this was one part of his life that just did not go together. His sensei gave him a book to read that said, “When you are an athlete and afraid, you play small.” He remembered getting irritated at this because the one thing he promised himself was he would not leave this black belt test having played small. This is what people bring to this business sometimes. It is true that when you fear, you play small and do not ask for what you need. What you need is usually not unreasonable. For example, if you reconstruct a house and do it for free or a loss. Why would this make more sense than the other side?
Tony said it has been quite a ride for him in the business. He has experienced the agony of defeat, and sometimes this sets up the future. A lot of people have gone through the agony of defeat. When they got involved back in 2007 to 2009, it was unavoidable. However, this experience is something from which you can learn. You can see it coming and know how to handle it the next time around. There is a lot of character building that goes on during it. You grow and find out what you are made of through all this.
Check us out on our website at www.thenorrisgroup.com and be sure to tune in next week as Bruce continues his interview with Tony Alvarez. For more information about The Norris Group’s California hard money loans or our California Trust Deed investments, visit the website or call our office at 951-780-5856 for more information. For upcoming California real estate investor training and events, visit The Norris Group website and our California investor calendar. You’ll also find our award-winning real estate radio show on KTIE 590am at 6pm on Saturdays or you can listen to over 170 podcasts in our free investor radio archive.