Don't be an “Askhole”.
Catchy title right? I saw that title on an article recently, and I really had to chuckle having just experienced one of those days. Today I just couldn’t resist incorporating it into my article, because it spells out perfectly in one word what typically goes wrong in a mentoring relationship.
Everyone starting out in this business of real estate investing has discovered pretty quickly that they need a mentor (or three). There is just no getting around it. This is a business that has a million details and nuances.
Most of us struggle for way too long trying to figure it all out on our own which is usually a bad idea. The other group of folks, think that someone can save them all the hard work and just answer their constant emails and texts so that they don’t have to do any work at all.
So what is the correct way to work with a mentor?
I have generally found that most seasoned real estate investors don’t mind helping out new investors. But there are a few of important rules of this game, and that's what I want to talk about today.
Simply Put; “Don’t Be an Askhole”
You will be required to do most of the work in building your business. When someone suggests a book, a particular blog or some other free or low cost material you should read and study don’t even think about saying “I don’t read much; can you just answer my (long list) of questions for me?”
Yes, that has happened to me more times than I like to admit.
Be Respectful of Their Time
If your mentor is willing to spend a little time on the phone with you, schedule a specific time to talk. Don’t just call them up and expect this person to drop everything to dish out free advice. Their time is valuable so be prepared, be concise and keep the conversation short.
Can I Buy You a Cup of Coffee and Pick Your Brain?
Don’t say this!
The person you have approached for free help; the one who has information and years of knowledge you value so much, may very likely have some type of course for sale or paid coaching programs they offer. Or if they are a professional like a real estate attorney, they charge for their services too. While they are probably more than willing to answer some specific questions or give you some guidance occasionally, they are not willing to “give away the store for free”. That doesn’t pay their mortgage.
When was the last time you went to the grocery, loaded up the basket with food, and put your groceries in the car without paying? I’m guessing … “Never”.
When you approach your mentor and ask if you can “pick their brain”, what you are really saying is “Instead of paying you the appropriate amount of money you deserve for you time and years of expertise, let me spend a few hours with you so that I can get all you have to offer for $2.00 or the price of a cup of coffee.”
Know What You Are Willing to Give In Exchange
The best mentoring relationships require give and take. Can you offer something specific in exchange for your mentor’s time if you are getting a freebie? If you have internet or web design skills, maybe you can trade services. At least, be sure to offer. Sometimes that is all it takes; just the offer to reciprocate and to let them know you will be there when they are ready to collect.
Just For Fun
Below is an actual email I received from someone (a complete stranger) a while back. I spent a considerable time answering her questions by email, referred her to a ton of free resources that had all of the answers to her questions and the details she was looking for. She just didn’t want to put in the time to read and learn. In reality what she really wanted was the “EASY-BUTTON” that would give her free access to the keys to the kingdom.
Here is her actual email:
Your blog has provided great reading and education over the weekend. I looked at a few links you provided for resources and am now a little overwhelmed.
Can you provide me and all-in-one reference to your direct mail system (i.e., post card message verbatim, snapshot of your database configuration, etc.)
I am looking hard at this company (name removed), but I have a feeling I am going to be “sticker shocked”. Basically, I am asking you for your complete system so I can do this myself! 🙂
Your thoughts please
Well, I’m pretty sure you can guess what my answer was. NO!
Don’t be an “Ashley” AKA an “Askhole”. You have to do the work most of which is time consuming and boring.
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Thank you for sharing your valuable time, I look forward to meeting you at the Sept meeting.
See you there.
Thanks Sharon for leveling the field for us newbies. Sifting through the excitement of learning and doing the right steps is challenging enough that I can see how some can be over zealous and take the kindness of experience sharing too far, especially when the advice newbies are given isn’t implemented and ignored. I wouldn’t want to help that person after the first time.
I personally, am very conscious of this when I reach out for help. So much so that it sometimes locks me up from asking. which sometimes is good because it forces me to go find answers myself.
While I’m not in a position to use everyone I meet’s products or services just yet, I at the minimum repay them with acknowledgment of my progress and the use of any tip or advice they have given me.
Thanks Sharon for all you have taught me so far, I appreciate it.
Dave – I am definitely up for answering questions and helping folks, in fact I do that on a daily basis.
When I get an email from someone like this gal that is lazy, that is a whole different matter. I might add that she had been emailing me for a couple of weeks previously. I had answered her questions and pointed her to resources. She just didn’t want to do the work, and in fact hadn’t done one thing I suggested.
Even folks that have been in this business for a long time like me still learn on a daily basis. One of the best things you can do is to try to look into a (free) mastermind group. It is one of the best things I ever did. The one I was invited to join has 6 people from across the country. I would just inquire maybe on one of the BiggerPockets forums; ask if anyone would be interested in getting one together. I can give you some details on how we do it if you like.
I also have an accountability partner. I just started asking around to some of my real estate contacts on facebook (of all places) and I found someone that was also looking for a AP. She was actually recommended to me. I am in KY and she is in PA. Everyone needs someone to help them stay on track, and give you a good “butt kicking” when you need it.
I wish I had known this when I was just starting out. I just sent in my chapter for a new BiggerPockets.com book that will be on “things you would do differently, if you were just starting out but knew what you know today”. It should be a great resource for folks. I have no idea when it will be coming out, but it should be a great resource for folks.
Thanks for reading!
Oh my, I really did laugh out loud seeing this post. I mean, just the title…..and that very descriptive word “askhole”. I knew immediately you had hit the nail on the head and couldn’t wait to read the whole article.
I get the “can I pick your brain” at least once a week. One fellow was so furious with me that I couldn’t meet him according to his schedule that he threatened me! And I am constantly asked how I do my yellow letters so they can do their own at home instead of using mine (or anyone else’s service.) One guy, who is a client, is trying too hard to be my best friend….constant texting and calls, invitations to lunch, etc.
Great article Sharon. Sometimes I feel a little guilty for having good healthy boundaries, but it’s obvious this issue is quite common and many of my peers experience it too.
Jerry – You know the exact moment when your “helpfulness” has gone over to the other side. I help folks every day, and I am happy to answer questions and help out in ordinary ways.
But you inevitably get your first “stalker” at some point; the one that wants you to spend your days doing all the work for them. The funny thing is that these folks go from person to person trying to suck each one dry from information, and they have no intention of ever using your product or your service (or anyone’s for that matter). You hit the nail on the head when you said “healthy boundaries”. I have to remember that one. We all have trouble doing that, especially in the beginning.
I got a great tip from someone a couple of weeks ago on how to handle these types of folks Send me an email and I will share. It sounds like you are going to need this too. Thanks for reading Jerry!
Nice blog Sharon (“Askhole”). I have occasionally pick the brain of a guy I now can call my friend. He’s extremely wise in the field of real estate (Broker/Investor). I have to admit, I did take him out to lunch once to express my future plans (in real estate) and get his opinion.
We also golf together now, but don’t talk too much about business while playing ( that’s fine… I have enough to figure out trying to get the ball into the hole).
I agree with what you said regarding exchanging something for his knowledge. I am a Realtor and when I come across distress properties, he’s one of the first people I will notify to see if it’s something he would interested in.
This has worked out well for both of us this far. I’m looking forward to partnering up with him in the near future. Again… good information.
Derrick – I think that is a great “trade”. The whole point is that it has to be an equitable relationship for both of you. I have made some great friends that were previously mentors of mine. Years later down the road, I am able to repay those early “debts” too. Thanks for your comments.
I just cringed when I read that email. I’ve had something similar….”Can you just send me all your marketing, scripts, how to’s for wholesaling?” and were like “yea just send that over to me as soon as you get a chance.” Another one was through a mutual site we both know and love and had someone ask if I could give insight to them..ok sure, so I asked what their goals were. The reply was basically I could go to their profile and go ahead and read through all of that. Really? Seriously? I took about as much time to reply as they did to help me help them, ie, none. Great blog post!!
Hey Tracy –
I was in utter disbelief when she sent that. She just didn’t have the desire to do all that work. It was too overwhelming for her. Hilarious!
After I got over being mad (which took a while), I had a good laugh. If you look at what she wrote it was actually quite a concise request; she wanted everything including the screenshots so she wouldn’t have to learn much of anything.
She probably has no idea why you wouldn’t just read her stuff and send her what she wanted. Now that is funny too.
Thanks for reading Tracy.