Michael Blank, author of Financial Freedom with Real Estate Investing

Financial Freedom with Real Estate Investing by Michael Blank

Happy #Well-TailoredWednesday! In my crusade to learn more about real estate, I just finished reading Michael Blank's newest book, Financial Freedom with Real Estate Investing. Michael is a reputable real-estate investor in the DC area who came from a W-2 background as a software engineer and who achieved financial freedom through, you guessed it, real estate. Read more here!

Supercommunicator by Frank J. Pietrucha

Happy #WellTailoredWednesday! A major part of my day job hinges on effective communication. Our team has a book club, in which we try to read one book a quarter. The Q2 book we just completed was Supercommunicator by Frank J. Pietrucha. Let’s jump in!

Focus on Communicating Through A Digital Lens

I’ll admit that I did not have high expectations for this book. Honestly, I thought this would be just another one of those tired narratives from an aging ’Boomer about how the world has become more digitized. Yawn! But alas! Pietrucha provides a refreshing take as to why it’s important, now more than ever, to be able to communicate effectively by using technology. At the root of the problem is the fact that the internet is actually rewiring our brains to think and process information differently. And to adapt to these changes, the way we transmit that information must change.

Our mandate should be to strive not just to deliver information but also to bring meaning to our audience through thoughtful explanation.

(Pg 13)

Effective Communication in a Digital World


The meat of the book highlights Pietrucha’s recommendations for communicating better. Perhaps it's the Millennial in me but, while I felt that the initial points were helpful and refreshing, I found his latter points to be very redundant and obvious.

Know Thy Audience

  • Tailoring your message to your audience is key. The level of detail one audience can process vs. another audience will vary.
  • When addressing multiple audiences, provide sufficient background for the novices to get up to speed and then gradually build into the more complex matter for those who are more familiar with the subject matter.

Know Thy Subject

  • Make sure you thoroughly understand the idea you are communicating---this is relatively obvious.
  • Never fake it. If you don't know a detail of the subject, ask an expert to explain it to you in another way (Pg 85)

Simplicity and Clarity

  • Don't over-complicate an idea with unnecessary information. Oftentimes giving a one-line description is all that's needed to get the job done (Pg 88).
  • Be cautious of the fact that "simplicity isn't everyone's friend": if you simplify too much, you'll be left with nothing but superficial banter. You never want to simplify anything to the point where you alter the meaning of your message.
  • Writing shorter sentences, using visual aids and rich media, and leading with the main idea first are all examples of best practices---I've been trying to implement these in my work emails and in these blog posts (can you tell?)

Guidelines for Effective Communication

  • This is where the content starts to get redundant. Avoid using sophisticated jargon...unless your audience is an expert with this jargon, per Know Thy Audience.
  • Use fewer big words. This reminds me of Robert Mueller's reply to Rep. Jerry Nadler when he was asked to "dumb down [his report] to the American people" and he replied that "the findings were that the president was not exculpated...", which of course isn't the most colloquial word. That was just one of many major communication screw ups during his testimony BUT I DIGRESS...

Communicating the complicated is about inclusivity, not exclusivity.

(Pg 113)

Humanize Your Communications

  • Being genuine is often all it takes for a message to be effectively transmitted. Telling a story, being relatable, and using case studies or testimonials are all examples of humanizing your message.
  • Again, just make sure you Know Thy Audience---sometimes the audience doesn't need a human element and instead requires a straightforward narrative. Misjudging the audience can be disastrous.

Getting An Audience To Care

  • Personalize, personalize, personalize. Show the audience what your message means for them and how it will change their day-to-day. This is something I'm struggling with at work at the moment, so it was good for me to learn.
  • Appealing to emotion can be powerful, but don't overdo it and know when to not use it---again, Know Thy Audience (Pg 164).

Building Blocks And Analogies

  • Build blocks and layers from one complicated matter to the next.
  • Utilize analogies where appropriate---If the audience cannot grasp what your idea means, perhaps they will understand it if you compare it to something else (Pg 179). Again, this is fairly intuitive.

Visual And Interactive

  • Okay by now we get it. "Showing" is better than "telling".
  • Utilizing the internet to provide some of these visual cues will be beneficial.

Overall Thoughts

Overall, this book was like one of those flights that has a smooth takeoff, has just the right amount of turbulence to keep things exciting, and then goes into a holding pattern before landing that ends up taking several hours. By the time you’ve landed, you’ve had enough and are ready to move on. While the content is redundant, I enjoyed the way Pietrucha sprinkles in personal anecdotes and insights from very smart people throughout the book. He's also very candid about his communication highlights and failures, which he has equal amounts of throughout his professional career. In total, I give the book a total of 3.5/5

Read If You:

  • Work in a client-facing role and are looking to improve your communication skills
  • Work in a position where you have to frequently communicate complex ideas to an audience
  • Are a Baby Boomer or Gen X-er who hasn't grown up constantly using the internet to communicate

Don't Read If You:

  • Are looking for any new revolutionary ideas about how to communicate better
  • Want a mindless read. This book is best for a book club-like occurrence where you can analyze your takeaways
  • Don't really need to communicate to audiences on a daily basis

Be sure to check out my other book reviews here. Thanks for reading and please feel leave your thoughts in the Comments' section below!

Finding and Funding Great Deals by Anson Young

Finding and Funding Great Deals by Anson Young

Happy #WellTailoredWednesday! As some avid readers of this blog may recall, one of my 2019 resolutions is to invest more in real estate. Since the start of the year I've invested in an online REIT and another online real estate crowdfunding company. I've also been reading a lot about real estate...and one of the books that I just completed was Finding and Funding Great Deals by Anson Young. Anson is a successful investor from BiggerPockets and he's been a 3-peater on their famous podcast in these episodes:

Before I begin my review, I want to caveat that this is the first book that I did not read page by page and cover to cover. I skimmed many parts and reread others. The book is very comprehensive. Whether you're a beginner looking to get your feet wet or if you're an experienced landlord who's looking for tips on streamlining your process for finding deals, there's great content in the book for everyone.

Putting the Fun in Fundamentals

Showing how to narrow down the property type on ListSource. (Chapter 2)

For example, in his chapter on Market Analysis (Chapter 2), he talks about how investors can find data on leasing platforms such as Zillow, ListSource, Redfin, and the MLS. Additionally, he even adds screenshots of the filters and fields the investor should input to find what he or she is looking for. In Chapter 6 where he talks about Evaluating Deals, he goes into great detail on what to look for when analyzing comparables. From here he defines some key formulas such as the 70 percent rule, the Fixed-Cost Method, the meaning of Cap Rates, and how to use these formulas during the underwriting process. For budding investors, these fundamentals are the key to success.

Another great aspect of this book is that it's just so easy to read. Throughout the book, Anson does a great job translating both high-level and granular real estate concepts into digestible bits. He also makes the content seem more conversational by adding his wit and a ton of jokes throughout the book: "a basement in Phoenix is about as common as a day you needed a coat." (Chapter 6) or providing quotes from Groundhog Day (Chapter 1)!

Putting the Fun in Funding

In the latter part of the book, Anson focuses on how to finance deals. From the get-go, he highlights the massive tradeoff that investors face when they seek funding:

The easier-to-find options are harder to get; you could walk into any bank to get a loan, but you need to have the credit, job history, and down payment to get that loan—not to mention the appraisal, loan conditions, and thirty-day close! The harder-to-find options offer better rates and looser standards; you could find a handful of rich guys who want to earn 10 percent, could fund in two days, and never want to see your credit report or ask for a down payment. Chapter 7

This is something that I'm struggling with at the moment--getting bank financing and raising private capital from investors. I've thought about some of the ways of securing financing that Anson talks about, which include:

  • Cash
  • Self-Directed IRAs (SDIRAs)
  • Bank Financing
  • Loans--Conventional, Construction, FHA, VA, Portfolio
  • Hard & Private Money
  • Seller Financing
  • Subject To
  • Lease Options
  • Transactional Funding
  • Partnerships
  • Crowdfunding

Clearly there a lot of ways to finance a deal that I need to consider! After highlighting the pros and cons of each method, Anson then dedicates a lot of time to Negotiation.

Initiating Negotiating

One of the goals for my day job is to work on my negotiating skills, so I made sure to read up on this section intently. A key nugget of advice Anson provides is for investors to get comfortable with hearing "no". In other words, the sooner they can overcome the fear of hearing "no", the better equipped they will be in handling those objections.

Go out in the world and get to ten nos as fast as possible. Chapter 8

In addition, Anson talks about how negotiation doesn't always have to be financially-driven for a discount off the sales price. This is usually the main reason sellers say "no" in the first place. Sometimes the investor simply needs to solve the seller's problem. Some of these creative concessions include closing quickly, providing moving assistance to the seller, allowing the seller to carry-back the note, and more, all of which I found to be incredibly helpful. In the future I plan to read one of the best-known negotiating books: Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss as well as the [in]famous The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump, so stay tuned to those reviews!

How to scale your business by optimizing your marketing budget (Chapter 11)

Anson also does a great job on spending time on the logistical procedures of closing the deal. This is by far one of the most dense stages of the acquisition process. From describing the different contracts that could be used (Chapter 9) to finding an investor-friendly Title company or attorney, Anson walks the reader through several nuances he or she should watch out for.

To close out the book, Anson zooms out and talks about the big picture. Chapter 11 provides tangible tips on how investors can successfully scale their business by building processes. Consequently, the investor will find better deals at a great price and will be able to secure funding. As a budding investor, I appreciated him providing this advice because it gives me a clearer path ahead in my investing career.

Overall Thoughts

In summary, I enjoyed reading this book, although I don't think investors need to read every page cover to cover. I give it a full 5/5.

Read if you:

  • Are having trouble sourcing deals or finding financing.
  • Are looking for a manual on real estate investing. Anson does a great job of highlighting the step-by steps needed to become successful in the business.
  • Are looking to scale your business by building systems and negotiating to find better deals.

Don't Read if You:

  • Focus on multifamily or commercial real estate. While there are nuggets of information on best practices for real estate investing, I would say 80% of this book is catered to those investors who focus on Single Family or Fix & Flip.
  • Are skeptical on real estate investing in the first place. If you still need convincing, you may want to consider reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki first.
  • Already have a full-fledged real estate business. I highly doubt Grant Cardone will find anything new from this book. If you're like him, you may want to read about optimizing your business or about some of the more advanced real estate investing strategies.

If you're interested in buying Finding and Funding Great Deals, you can purchase it on BiggerPockets here. Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave your thoughts in the Comments' section below!