What Box?

In the early 2000s, I was trying – unsuccessfully – to structure a deal that involved an inherited property with four out-of-town heirs.  My offer had nine moving parts.  If presented, because there were so many moving parts, I was sure the sellers would turn down my offer.  Why?  As we all know, a confused mind says NO.

Wanting to save this deal, I called my friend Pete Fortunato for some creative deal-structuring advice.  In less than an hour, Pete cut through the fog and simplified my offer.  It went from nine moving parts down to just two.  After presenting this new, easy-to-understand offer, the sellers quickly said yes, and Kim and I bought the property less than a week later.

I was so impressed with Pete’s deal structure, I titled that week’s newspaper column Pete Fortunato: The Greatest Outside The Box Thinker!  (Note: I wrote a weekly syndicated real estate investing newspaper column from 2003 through 2015.)

After all, aren’t we all taught the importance of being “outside the box thinkers?”  Isn’t this the thing for which we all strive?  I knew Pete would love, love, love my column.

After it ran in the paper, I cut the article out and had it professionally framed.  Then I sent the framed column to Pete to go on his wall.

Remember: Pete Fortunato – The Greatest Outside The Box Thinker!

A few days later, I received a simple, two-word email from Pete.  His two-word email changed my life and became my biggest real estate investing ah-ha moment of all time!

Can two single-syllable words really have this big of an impact on a person’s life?  What did Pete’s email say?  Remember, I wrote a column about Pete Fortunato being the greatest “outside the box” thinker.

Pete’s email simply – and only – said: “What Box?

And with that, I went off the deep end.  I sat in front of our fire pit for three days.  All I did was gaze into the flames and contemplate Pete’s reality-shattering message.

All my business life – and this is the case for most of us – I was instructed to think outside the box.  Then along comes Pete, bending the universe the way only he can.

A few days later I drove to Madeira Beach, Florida and met with Pete.  I had questions that needed answers.  Pete simply pointed out that after attending his seminars since 1999, I’d entirely missed his most important core lesson.  All this time, he wasn’t teaching us how to think outside the box – he was teaching us that THERE IS NO BOX!

In discussing his mind-warping insight, Pete, in his tone of it’s-critical-that-you-fully-understand-this said, “Bill, if you say you’re thinking outside the box, then you’re acknowledging there is a box.  If you think there is a box, then you’ll never reach your full potential as a creative deal structurer.  The truth is, there is no box!  You can be as creative as you want – so long as you help the other person get to a position they like better than their current position.”

How could I have been so obtuse for so long and missed such a key point?

If you want to become a better, wiser, more accomplished real estate investor, remember that our job is to help people get what they want.  It’s about them, not us.  If you combine this mindset with the persistent effort of regularly getting face-to-face with sellers, along with getting together with other been-there-and-done-that investors, you will get exactly what you want out of life.

Most importantly of all, always remember Pete’s ever-so-wise words: “What box?”

Do you seek real-world real estate investing information?  Go to BillandKimCook.com.  It’s packed with creative deal structuring techniques and strategies.  Bill and Kim Cook have been investing in real estate since 1990.  Their portfolio consists of single-family rentals, a small mobile home park, plus notes and options.  If you have questions, give Bill a call at 770-815-8727.

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