In 2001, I moved out of my mom’s basement in Atlanta to New York City. I was 22 years old and I wanted to be a millionaire. I didn’t have wealthy connections or mentors, but I was undeterred.
For inspiration, I looked at the people I knew who lived rich lives, like my childhood basketball coaches. One owned a medical supplies business, and another invested in real estate. Without their influence, I wouldn’t be living my dream today.
Now, I’m a self-made millionaire with 366 units in my property portfolio. I run my own business and coach basketball in my spare time. Here are five habits that helped me make my first $1 million:
1. Wealth doesn’t require a suit and tie.
I never saw my coaches in anything but a tracksuit. They were their own bosses, so they dressed however they wanted.
It was a stark contrast from my teammates’ parents, who would rush from the office to pick up their kids after practice, exhausted and still in their power suits.
My coaches’ sense of freedom and authentic approach to life gave me a blueprint. I don’t give all my time and energy to how things look on the surface. Instead, I invest in my quality of life outside of work. To this day, I still don’t know how to tie a tie.
2. Focus on your strengths.
I had the worst shot on the team, but my coaches put no effort into improving it because I was great at defense. They encouraged that, and helped me become even better.
They taught me that everyone has weaknesses, and that it’s okay. The most well-rounded players don’t always make it to the NBA, but skill experts often do.
To grow your wealth, be the best at one thing. Finding off-market houses people were willing to sell was a natural instinct of mine. I focused on that instead of going after the same homes as everyone else. This strategy led to even more deals and networking opportunities.
3. Devote your time to things that matter.
I’m sure my coaches could have spent their afternoons making more money. But they understood that time was their most precious commodity, and they wanted to spend it coaching basketball.
They taught me that real wealth is about devoting your time to things that really matters to you. I focused on investing in real estate and building my business so that one day, I wouldn’t have to spend 40 hours a week in an office.
Now, my portfolio is managed by property managers and I have a virtual assistant. I have complete autonomy over my day.
4. Don’t be greedy.
Greed isn’t a requirement of a rich life. Even though they were busy people, my coaches were always generous with their time and attention.
I often give advice and connections to homeowners because it gives me a sense of satisfaction and joy to be able to make a hard process a little easier. That has led to many referrals, off-market deals and leads for my realtor business.
The truly wealthy give with no expectation of anything in return, and the rewards they reap are exponential.
5. Value effort over everything else.
My coaches always valued hard work and never expected perfection. If you were trying new things, failure was rewarded, too. I imagine they ran their businesses the same way.
Trying, again and again, is how you get to the top in business. There are no shortcuts.
I developed a strong reputation as someone who will hustle and try anything for my clients. My focus on effort, even if it leads to failure, has gotten me further in my pursuit of success than anything else.
Alan Corey is a podcaster and real estate entrepreneur. He co-founded House Money Media, a company dedicated to launching first-generation real estate investors, and is the author of “House FIRE: How to Be a Red-Hot Real Estate Millionaire With a Wealth of Time and Money to Burn.” Follow him on Twitter.
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