2020 in review
For the last 3 years I've been writing an annual blog and I kind of can't believe this is my third year doing it! Journaling and reflecting on each year has has been a very HEALTHY and useful project for me, I think everyone should do it.
This post contains my real estate progress, content I produced, and other growth I was able to experience. As with everything I write it's highly transparent and most certainly way too long which means very few people will read the whole thing but if you can find a little value along the way, then I'll be very happy.
I am thankful for the chance to share this part of my life with you.
Quit my job - 2020 was the first year I've ever gone in my adult life without an employer. I quit my job and left Las Vegas back in November 2019, and while it has definitely comes with some stress it also allowed me to do a lot with my new freedom and it has forced me to go hunt for my food (income) rather than simply rely on a steady paycheck. This creates a really impactful mindset shift to rely on myself and no one else, the uncertainty of my future is scary but conquering it makes me extremely confident in my ability. I am now hoping I never have to work for someone else again. This is a big win for my life, and one I didn't really plan for, real estate is turning out to be an incredible vehicle for more than financial freedom, but life freedom.
We had a pandemic - So about 2 weeks into single life a global pandemic hit us and the world went into isolation, which I did NOT deal well with. I'm a highly social creature so like many people this was a tough year for me in that aspect. For anyone who might be mad at me for going in public and traveling this year, you're going to be very mad when you see just how much I travelled around this year, but I had to to do it in order to keep my sanity.
Last years goals
Here are my 2020 goals, how did I stacked up? The full text can be found in my 2019 year in review but here is the summary:
Start flipping as an active business and I’m going to buy another multifamily - both done!
Commit to doing more YouTube - sorta, I made lots of YouTube for BiggerPockets
Clear off another ~40-50 books - 37 completed
Travel more - considering Covid situation - done!
I did pretty good in real estate this year! Not as good as some but good enough for me and despite how it sometimes seems to people on the internet, I am a slow and steady risk averse investor and I'm 100% ok with that.
I flipped two homes, and bought a 52 unit multifamily complex through syndication.
The first flip can be found here, and the second here. These kept me busy, they gave me an income to live on, and they gave me a reason to practice doing some videography, my first flipping video can be found here.
I will definitely do some more flips in 2021. This was the income that kept my bills paid and it allowed me to invest in another multifamily and it kept my skills sharp.
I painted the front door BRIGHT PINK on this one, because it was awesome and I do awesome things.
In 2019 I bought my first multifamily About halfway through 2020 I started working on a larger multifamily property that has taken me a few months to close and definitely the biggest deal I've ever done: a 52 unit syndication here in Fayetteville. It closed on December 30th of this year so this blog will get posted before that is finalized, but I'll make a long post about it like I always do and I'll come back and add that link here when it's done.
Photography & Travel
I did a LOT of photography and a good chunk of traveling.
I went to the Best Ever Conference in February (which feels like a LIFETIME ago in Covid years) and documented my experience like I do with many conferences. While I was there I met up the people at BiggerPockets (their headquarters is there) including my best friend Mindy Jensen and they asked me to be the official photographer for BiggerPockets conference 2020 (which was rescheduled to 2021).
Washington DC - I went to DC three times this year, one to speak to a group of investors that went really well and gave me the confidence to speak at more events in the future. The other two times I went to make my YouTube series for BiggerPockets, here are some pics I got along the way
Fayetteville protests - I didn't have to travel for this, but I went to the protest with my camera. Admittedly it felt a little dangerous, but I'm not scared easily. I spend the entire night in the mix, one of only a few white people, documenting a big of destruction in the downtown area. It wasn't as bad as the media wants people to think (at least in my town) and I posted a TON of pictures and story about it here, but I'll include this incredible photograph now because it's one of my best ever.
Wilmington - This year I sold my first print, I was ecstatic. My long time friend and lender Patrick bought a print of mine for his office, I got a GREAT drone panorama from right outside his beach house on a gorgeous sunrise.
Myrtle Beach - Trips to the beach can't really considered 'travel' but I brought my drone and this makes for a good way to share pictures. The drone is a neat little toy that takes a while to get decent at, I'm improving slowly. What do you think?
Cabo - I was fortunate to go to Mexico TWICE this year, both with my BFF Shelby. Here are some pics from our trip to Cabo, you can see more here.
Tulum - My second trip to Mexico was on the far east side of the country south of Cancun, below the Caribbean. I went with 10 other people for 8 days, which was a bit too long for me and I started getting fussy. It turns out I'm a spoiled American diva who prefers his creature comforts and fancy living. The place was awesome though so here are some pics.
I started practicing Videography
Shelby and Alex Quarantine Adventure - I made a few of these just screwing around with my GoPro. They were just a good way to practice putting video together quick and dirty, they came out fun though! This was the first one:
Biggerpockets Meet the Investors - One of my goals for the year was to do more YouTube. At the beginning of the year I had never done any videography and I found out pretty quickly that I kind of hate being on camera. I decided to put other people on camera as a means to practice the production side. I started with my buddy Nate Cross and then made 12 episodes about local real estate investors and sold the videos to BiggerPockets. Before the end of the year I made another 12 for investors in the DC market, and I'm scheduled to make another 25 or so in 2021.
BIG THANKS to the 24 friends and the staff at BiggerPockets who helped me make this series. It was well received by almost everyone which sort of caught me off guard as it was my first big video effort and I did the entire production side alone. I didn't think it would be very good nevermind something they would ask me to make more of! I need to push myself to do more.
Epic Tulum - This was my last video of the year and probably my best. I went to Tulum for 8 days and made this little B-roll video of our time there. the BP videos were talking heads with some clips of the properties, this was just clips of our trip synced to music, very different style and in many ways it was harder to make but it was very rewarding to have something neat to make with my friends.
I went bananas on books, like usual
As I've said many times before: reading makes you wise, humble, and more intellectually confident. Despite their popularity I find reading self help and business books to have limited value, they might make a person feel good but feeling good isn't how we grow, being challenged is how we grow. Reading difficult books that help you better understand and predict human behavior is what I recommend for ambitious people.
I made a whole separate post about my book content for the year like I usually do. You can check out the ~40 books I read in 2020 here.
This was a very transformative year for me. I accomplished a lot of ambitious (for me) tasks and I deeply believe that when we are forced (or volunteer) for difficult trials is when we grow the most and find out who we really are. Moving towards things that we are scared of, and outside of our comfort zone is a core life principle of mine. We grow the most when there is a lot on the line.
I moved towards a lot of new challenges this year: the BP video project was way outside of my comfort zone and people seemed to love it, this makes me inspired and gives me confidence about what else I can create in the future.
Raising money for the 52 unit was very difficult for me but in the end it's something I accomplished. This is also something that makes me think "what else can I do in this life that I currently don't think I can do?". 10 years ago I was surprised I could even buy a single family home as a primary residence, now I'm buying $3MM apartment buildings and making money for other people. Instead of being my largest life challenge so far I'm looking at it more as just the first big life challenge with many more to go.
I travelled to many new places this year including going to Mexico twice. Seeing the world gives me great perspective about how good I have it here in America, it helps me be less entitled and more grateful. It's hard to describe the growth I experience from it but I intend to travel a lot more going forward. Hopefully the world opens back up in 2021 and I can go to Europe and maybe other exciting places.
I did a few public speaking engagements this year which is something I really think I can be good at in the future. Unfortunately it was a terrible year for conferences and meetups, but that will eventually blow over and I think that's something I'm going to find myself naturally gifted for.
I lived the whole year without a steady salary the first time in my life and now I know that I can rely on myself for my well being forever, maybe I'll go back to work if I somehow fuck things up, but living without the security blanket of a salary makes me feel so free and so empowered. I did well this year because of my efforts rather than needing a company to keep me afloat.
This year I took a 6 week philosophy of religion class online from a professor in Beirut who teaches through the free market (no college system, no formal academia). I found him on twitter and the class included sections on two of my all-time favorite thinkers: Nassim Taleb and Friedrich Nietzsche. I had been studying these two for the last ~3 years and there is a lot of overlap in style and themes but at the end of this class I felt my understanding of these ideas compounded significantly. Something I want to practice more in 2021 is asceticism - self discipline and rejection of worldly pleasures; Less consumerism, more reading, and more fasting. It's hard to explain here why these feel so important to me now, but they are ancient tools for taking control of one's life and I don't like the idea of being controlled by my hunger, buying stuff I don't need, or consuming low brow brainless content.
Some goals for 2021:
Work on buying another multifamily (~100 units)
Build a better system for raising money
Flip 3 houses
Make more Youtube for my channel!
Make ~20 videos for BiggerPockets "Meet the Investor"
Read ~40 books
Find a way bring people who share my love for knowledge togethe
2020 was lousy in many ways and unfair in many more, but we create our lives from the circumstances we are given. A defeated attitude is the fastest way to become defeated.
I personally feel empowered and invigorated for an incredible year ahead and I hope you do as well. The year ahead is unlikely to be worse than our current year, so the momentum for improvement is on our side!
As always, if you read this and think I can help or you want to be part of what I'm doing, reach out to me. I would love to contribute any small way I can to your future.