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Aww Shift

Apr 18, 2023

In today’s episode, our guest is David Greene. He is a successful real estate broker, bestselling author, and BiggerPockets Real Estate podcast co-host. He is a highly respected authority on real estate, having been featured on CNN, Forbes, and HGTV, and has appeared on over 25 different real estate podcasts. As a licensed real estate broker and lender, he runs "The David Greene Team," a top-producing real estate company in Keller Williams, where he has won multiple awards for production. 

[2:25] Why should I listen to you? 

You should listen to me because we will get into a conversation where we will discuss everything about you that is stopping you from getting the things you want in life or being happier. 

[3:34] Where did this come from? 

I grew up having a relationship with God, and I think that helps a lot, depending on how you perceive God. My perception of God had a lot to do with the fact that we’re forgiven for everything we’ve ever done. You can operate at this level of honesty about your problems and still be loved by him. So you can take off your shirt at the pool even if you don't look good and still feel loved. When I didn’t have that perception, I felt unloved. I struggled with confidence, shame, and laziness, and there was always resistance to getting out there and doing what I needed to do to make my life better. I always craved the right people who would come along as friends, coaches, and mentors and who would help me overcome my resistance. So my best friends became people who practiced with me and helped me get better. 

[5:20] What was the process like for you? 

High school basketball coaches had a big impact on me, especially one in particular. My first varsity coach asked me to play varsity as a sophomore, but I declined since they already had a good team and I didn't want to be stuck behind another player. Nonetheless, that coach believed in me, which gave me the confidence to play harder. This was important since my relationship with my dad was rough, and I often felt like he preferred more athletic kids. During my senior year, a new coach came in who had just graduated from ULP, a Division I college in Stockton that was making it to the NC double A's every year. This coach brought a Division I college program to our high school, which raised the standards significantly. This was tough, but it helped me grow stronger and understand that I needed to keep raising the bar bit by bit. While I have failed many times in my life, the standard set by my basketball coaches has been like a north star, guiding me toward improvement, happiness, better relationships, and wealth.

[8:05] Can we talk about your high school? 

I grew up in Chico, which is located between Stockton and the waterpark. The waterpark was a popular destination, especially when I was playing basketball. At the time, Michael Olowokandi was the number one pick in the NBA draft and he had been playing with my coach. They were a dominant team, beating even the top-ranked teams in the tournament. However, my athletic career didn't go as planned, and I broke my ankle while training with a talented player who was the best on his college team. I used to play one-on-one with him at the gym, and although he usually won, I would occasionally win too. But when I saw him wearing Colorado basketball shorts one day, I realized that he was a guard for the team and was good. This made me shift my mindset and realize that sometimes we don't see ourselves from the best angle.

[10:50] Were you injured during that period when you were with that individual?

I traded with another guy, who happened to be the best player, but I had a lot of ankle injuries from repeated sprains. I didn't understand how it worked at the time. I thought my body knew how to heal from sprains faster, without realizing that each time it happened, my ligaments were getting stretched. The last time, a couple of ligaments snapped in half, and the bones crushed together and broke off. I tried to train with almost nothing, but the pain was too much to handle. Eventually, I had to get reconstructive surgery, and my eligibility was revoked. I was frustrated because I was so close to proving myself, just 99% of the way there. However, this experience taught me a valuable lesson, and it gave me the motivation to push harder in other areas. I had a chip on my shoulder because I didn't achieve what I wanted in my athletic career, which motivated me to graduate from the tough police academy and succeed as a police officer. Although this career can be full of temptations and hate, it all depends on how you let the external world affect you. From there, I became a real estate agent and investor, and my past disappointments have fueled me to push harder than others.

[13:24] What are some of the challenges you faced and how did you approach them?

I applied to 14 different apartments before getting hired by one. The application process is not just about settling down; each apartment had about nine or 10 steps before getting to the academy. I had to go through constant oral boards, physical agility tests, written tests, and endless driving across various departments. Even when I got 80% of the way there, I still got rejected a few times because of my past speeding tickets, or for never having done drugs or getting into fights. They thought I couldn't handle the job's stresses. Finally, I got hired by one apartment after 13 failures. When I arrived at the academy, the biggest shock to me wasn't the screaming or physical demands, which I was used to from playing sports. It was the emotional shock of being yelled at and punished for something I didn't know was wrong. In sports, coaches would show you the right fundamentals, and if you didn't follow them, you got into trouble. It was a logical approach. However, in the academy, I got in trouble for military rules I didn't know, which was very discouraging. Despite feeling hopeless, I knew I couldn't go back to applying for 14 more departments, so I stuck through it. I also saw this as an opportunity to change my life and gain confidence as a man. I felt like God had put me on this path, and if I didn't complete it, I could end up accepting being a quitter for the rest of my life. I had a healthy fear that quitting would become a part of my identity, and I didn't want that. It's okay to get injured or washed out if it's out of your control, but it should never be because you voluntarily gave up.

[16:55] What was your experience of being an officer after finally making it through the journey? Did you feel settled and secure, or did you always have a lingering feeling of uncertainty?

You constantly fear getting fired during the FTO program, where an experienced officer evaluates and teaches you simultaneously. It's an emotional state where they're teaching and evaluating you, and they decide whether you make it or not. It's hard, especially when you're younger, trying to remember policies, listen to radio codes, drive in an unfamiliar neighborhood, and identify penal codes. You're being watched and every mistake is noted, creating a constant fear of getting cut. You study hard, drill codes in your head, and seek comfort. It's like being a rookie in sports, where everything feels like white noise and you're a step behind everything, but with time, you cross a threshold and start seeing things before they happen. Many people don't make it through, and it's a continuous struggle even after you pass the academy because you have to learn how to do the job and earn your peers' respect. If they don't trust you, there will be conflict, and you'll be miserable every day. 

[24:40] What was the catalyst that made you decide to do something else after going through all the things you just talked about?

There is an answer that makes me sound intelligent - I foresaw the strained relationship between the public and police officers improving, particularly in the Bay Area. The negativity of the officers around me was exponentially worsening, and it was beginning to affect my thoughts and actions. Even though my beliefs didn't align with those negative feelings, it was challenging to fight against them constantly. However, I had invested too much time and energy into my career as a police officer and wanted to be the best. It's tough to let go of something that defines your identity, especially for men. That's why people like Tom Brady continue to play football when they retire. But something inside me was changing. I'm not sure if it was divine intervention, but I no longer felt the same desire to continue in law enforcement. It was as if I had a fistful of sand, and the tighter I held onto it, the more sand slipped through my fingers. One day, even the easiest call, like someone with a stomach ache, would make me angry, and I would curse the world on my way to that call. It was as if a door was closing on that chapter of my life, and it made sense to leave. Emotionally, it was a powerful decision, and I felt like I was suffocating. I needed to find a new challenge because there was no longer any joy in the job. People were depending on me, and it was an uphill battle to maintain a positive attitude every day. I knew I wasn't strong enough to overcome those challenges, so I had to move on. 

[26:56] Why real estate? 

I used to own rental properties, and I was comfortable with that. However, I became a real estate agent because I was tired of referring my friends to agents who weren't very good. In my opinion, most real estate agents are terrible, and it's hard to find good help in this industry. When my friends came back to me with questions about their agents, I would end up doing the agent's job. So I decided to get licensed and do it myself. While I was still working as a cop, I would show homes in the morning, go to work in the afternoon until late at night, then go home and repeat the process. I was also part of a group called Good Abundance, where I was encouraged to stop working overtime, learn how to be a businessman, and eventually ride off into the sunset when I made enough money. But to be honest, I hated it. I didn't like sales or having to persuade people. As a cop, it was easy to tell people what to do, but that doesn't work with scared people who are unsure about buying a house or how much to pay. I felt like a bodybuilder trying to learn yoga, but I needed to stretch and become flexible. I had to connect with people, listen to them, and share personal stories to build trust. Once I realized that personal growth led to more money, I knew what I had to do in this new industry.

[29:25] What made you feel secure enough to take the risk and venture into your endeavors?

Looking at a chart of how success happens when learning a new skill, it's not a linear process where you put in X hours and get X better, like in the world of work. Learning a skill, such as playing the guitar or building up your biceps, requires perseverance and patience. When I started working out, I was frustrated that my wrists would tire before my biceps during bicep curls. It took months of consistent effort before my wrists were strong enough to support my biceps, and even then, my forearms needed work too. Progress is not always linear, but rather a series of adjustments and improvements. Whether you're a major league baseball player or learning a new skill, success takes time and effort. It's important to keep pushing through the frustrating moments and trust that your hard work will pay off in the end. During this period of growth, you may not see immediate success or financial gain but don't give up. Keep at it and trust the process. Once you reach the inflection point, where progress exponentially increases, you can put even more time and effort into your pursuit. 

[33:50] How can someone who doesn't have the same experience as you, in real estate, learn from your success and create their version of wealth through real estate?

You can't be a David Green or an Elon Musk; only a handful of people in the world can achieve what they have. However, anyone can strive to be the best employee they can be. When I worked at Todos in high school, my goal was to excel at my job just as I did in basketball. I wanted to outperform my coworkers and become the boss's favorite. This attitude worked well in the workplace because many people approach their jobs with minimal effort. When I started working in restaurants as a busboy and host, I approached every day with a positive attitude and a desire to learn. As a result, I was promoted to waiter, making grown-up money right out of high school. I learned that nobody stops you from giving your best every day, and that mindset has carried me through every profession. Instead of waiting for more opportunities, start by doing your best in the job you have and looking for ways to do more. That's something anyone can do.

[43:08] What promise did God make to the world when he created you? 

I believe that one of the key takeaways from our conversation today is that if you put your heart and soul into pursuing your goals, there's no guarantee that you'll achieve them. However, you will inevitably develop the qualities and attributes necessary to attain what you truly need in life. My own experience attests to this truth, that if you give everything you've got, success will come. It's like going to the gym and giving it your all every single day. There's simply no way you won't become stronger. You may not end up with the same physique as Arnold Schwarzenegger or Michael Phelps, but you will undoubtedly improve your abilities and skills. So, if you apply this same mindset to every aspect of your life, you'll begin to see the same benefits and blessings. 

Key Quotes

[23:35-23:37] If you can't attain it, you can't sustain it. 

[32:45-32:50] There's more energy in the time when you've just made a shift than when you're just showing up.

How to connect with David Greene