Throughout my life I have been fortunate to be influenced by a great many people, including teachers, coaches and mentors. However, the person who has had the biggest influence on me has been my dad, Bud Broome. While there were many lessons that he taught me, I learned more from actually watching him in action, and one instance in particular stands out to me as having a tremendous impact on my life and investing career.
The story starts in the spring of 1995, my junior year at Mainland Regional High School, in the small town of Linwood, NJ, just outside of Atlantic City. During this time of my life, I would often have many late night conversations with my dad as he typically got home at all hours since he had a small law practice that he ran during the day and he was a municipal court judge in various towns at night. Typically we would have ice cream, maybe watch Sports Center, and solve all of the problems of the Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies (and believe me, there were a lot of problems to be solved;-)
During this time, I, along with my younger brother Chris, played football at Mainland, and throughout our time in school, there had been numerous attempts to put up lights at our football field. However, all attempts had fallen flat as the cost to put up the lights was a whopping $75,000 (approximately $145,000 in today's dollars), which no one had been able to raise.
My dad, brother and I had talked about how cool it would be to play night football, and would often brainstorm ideas to raise the $75,000. Then, one night while eating ice cream, my dad told me that he had an idea to raise the funds for the lights. As we were, and still are, Disney fanatics, it was only appropriate that my dad got the inspiration for this idea from a trip to Disney World.
During a trip, he noticed bricks throughout Disney World with people's names inscribed in them and he thought that it would be a great idea to sell inscribed bricks for $100 per brick to raise the funds. I thought that this idea sounded great, but I also thought that at $100 per brick it would take forever to raise the funds, or at least well after I graduated.
I asked my dad during this April night, how long he thought it would take to raise the funds, and he responded, "Your senior season starts this September, so it's gotta happen by then." My dad said this in such a matter-of-fact tone that it was as if he saw it as a foregone conclusion. I thought to myself, much like any sane person would, "My dad is completely nuts! There is no way to raise that much money, get school board approval and get construction completed in less than six months. It's impossible!!!" I did not tell my dad my thoughts on his sanity, as I did not want to discourage him. However, little did I know that nothing could have discouraged him at that point.
After that night, life continued as normal, I went to school, my dad went to work and we would still have our late night conversations. Occasionally during these conversations, my dad would share that he sold a brick or two that day and that progress was being made. I did not pay much attention to it as I still thought it was impossible for it to happen by my senior year.
Finally, right before the start of my senior football season, my dad came home and told me, "It's going to happen." "What's going to happen?" I asked. "The lights are going up!" he responded. I was absolutely dumbfounded as a couple of days before my dad had raised maybe a couple thousand dollars and now, all of a sudden, he had raised the entire $75,000?!!! I was in shock. How did this happen?!!!
My dad proceeded to tell me of how that night after court he went to our favorite restaurant, Charlie's, to grab a late dinner. While there, he asked the restaurant's owner, Mr. Jack Thomas, if he would be willing to buy a brick. (An important side note is that my dad was well known in the community, and he had a great reputation as being as person who helped others, got things done & was honest.) So, the discussion continued and Mr. Thomas asked how much money was needed in total, and my dad told him $75,000. Then, Mr. Thomas gave the response that changed everything, "You got it, I will donate the entire $75,000." Just like that, the funds were raised.
Shortly thereafter, and about a week before the second home game of the season, the school board held an emergency meeting as time was of the essence, and at this meeting the board approved the construction of the lights. Then, four days before our second home game, my dad had to convince the construction company to have their trucks ready to complete construction so that the lights were ready for Friday night. This took more convincing than normal as the head of the company was obviously in disbelief as to whether he would be paid since he could not think that anyone could raise so much money in such a short time.
Finally, two days before our second home game the lights went up. The season turned out amazing as well as we went from a losing record the prior two years to winning the state championship. This success was in no small part due to the atmosphere that the lights brought to our home games and the team having the same “it’s gotta happen” attitude that my dad exhibited in getting the lights. The time leading up the season and the season itself were truly amazing, and were experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life.
WHAT DO HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL LIGHTS HAVE TO DO WITH INVESTING?
Now, after hearing this story, you are probably wondering to yourself, "Why is a story about high school football lights in an investing blog?" The reason is because I learned four very important lessons from my dad during those months that have been instrumental to me in my life & investing career.
Lesson #1: Keep Chopping
The first lesson is to keep chopping. A tree never falls because of the final chop. Instead, it is a cumulative result of the many small, perceptibly insignificant chops before the final one. My dad never would have asked Mr. Thomas if my dad first had not thought up the idea and then asked many people beforehand to buy single bricks. While those actions may have seemed insignificant in relation to the final goal, they were all small steps in the right direction that built momentum to the big prize.
These actions by my dad enforced in me that every single action towards a goal or deal, no matter how small, matters. The "small chops" for me in my career have included attending classes & reading books, making loads of cold calls for properties, spending my weekends and free time driving to and meeting sellers, and submitting tons of offers. The vast majority of these actions did not directly result in a closed sale. Rather, they were all small "chops" that gave me practice and confidence to talk with sellers and build momentum for the deals that I did close. Ultimately, every one of these chops has moved my family and me closer to the big prize, financial freedom.
Lesson #2: Reputation Matters
Second, one's reputation matters. My dad was well known around town and was extremely personable and always helping others without expectation of being paid back. Additionally, my dad was known as someone who "got things done." Finally, and this is most important, he was known for being honest & trustworthy. My dad practiced the "do what you say & say what you do" philosophy his entire life and people around town knew this. Because of all of these factors, Mr. Thomas felt comfortable dealing with my dad for such a large sum of money and making such an unbelievably generous donation as Mr. Thomas believed that what my dad said would happen, and Mr. Thomas was right.
Maintaining my reputation has been essential for my career as well. I, with the immense help of my wife, have been fortunate to complete deals that were extremely creative and very different from “normal” real estate transaction in order to create true "win-win" deals. These deals required the other parties to put their trust in us, which is something that we have been very grateful for and have not taken lightly. Additionally, we have had deals that have been repeat business, and they have been done, in no small part, because the other parties saw our work, knew our reputation and trusted that we would deliver again, and they benefited in trusting us. I have found that maintaining my reputation by treating people fairly & honestly to be an essential element of my career. My reputation alone has been more helpful to me in closing deals than any pitch that I could ever make.
Lesson #3: Teamwork is Essential
Third, it takes teamwork to achieve goals. My dad spearheaded the idea of the lights and directed the parties involved, but he did not do it alone. He had help from my mom, Pat Broome, other parents in the community, and our coach, Bob Coffey, all of whom helped bring the idea to fruition. Mr. Thomas had the essential element of the money, which he generously donated. The school board held the emergency meeting & approved the lights being constructed. Finally, the construction company built the lights. No one party could have put up the lights alone, rather it was the cumulative effort of all of the parties working together for a common goal, a goal from which benefited many, that made the feat possible.
This idea of teamwork has been absolutely essential in my career. In the words of sage investor & my mentor, Gary Johnston, "Investing is a team sport" and I have found this to be absolutely true. I have received so much help from others. This help has included: learning valuable tools from mentors, having friends walk me through deals that I was not certain how to complete, borrowing money or partnering to complete transactions, and having workers do construction and repairs that was often needed for a deal. I cannot complete a deal or manage a property alone, rather I need help from many, many people. Also, I make an effort to give my time to others to help them achieve their goals, and I have found that this circle of cooperation keeps going and keeps getting bigger the longer I am in this business.
Lesson #4: Some Things in Life Happen Because They “Gotta Happen”
Finally, and this may be the most important lesson, there are certain results in our lives that will happen simply because they "gotta happen," regardless of whether or not the result flies in the face of logic. The lights seemed like an impossible initiative at the time. There had been many unsuccessful attempts to raise the lights, and those past unsuccessful attempts along with the huge amount of money needed and the short period of time to raise it all contributed to this idea that the lights were unattainable. In spite of all of this, my dad loved my brother and me so much and he knew how excited we would be to play under the lights, so in his mind there was no other option, the lights had to go up in in time for my senior season, PERIOD. My dad's attitude propelled him into action, and the end goal came as a result of those actions.
Likewise, for me, this “gotta happen” mindset has been essential for me in my investing career. My first investment was not very good (ahem, at all....), but I saw investing as the best way to achieve financial freedom for my family. Consequently, there has been no other option, it has had to work. This blind faith that things would happen because they had to happen caused me to take the massive actions mentioned above and this ultimately has resulted in my wife and I closing a number of successful deals on our path to financial freedom. I think that this mentality is absolutely essential to investing (and any other career) as there are too many discouraging things to happen and it is easy to lose sight of the end prize. Because of this attitude, although my path has become a little crazier than planned, I know where it is going to end up and that causes me to take the actions needed to get there.
Of all of the many great things that my dad taught me, the ones that I learned watching him during those 6 months in 1995 may be the best. Thank you dad for all you have done for me and for the many lessons that you have taught me, I am eternally grateful. You are my hero and I love you very much.
So, after reading this, do you find any of these lessons helpful in your life? Do you have anything in your life that has "gotta happen"? Please feel free to comment below as I would love to hear your story and I will respond to you.