Life Lessons Learned from Hang Gliding

hangGlider

As you may or may not know, I’ve been taking hang gliding lessons for the past few months. Because my time in Northern California is quickly coming to a close and it will be much more difficult to learn how to hang glide back in Michigan, I took a half day vacation this past Tuesday and headed down to Milpitas; I had two of the very best (and longest) flights that I’ve had to date. I was at the top of the 50 ft training hill all morning and learned a ton about steering and pitch! Being in the air for 20-30 seconds gave me much more time to try new things and to get feedback.

I was with two other students and while they were flying and hauling the glider back up the hill,  I considered some of the many parallels between hang gliding and life in general.

It’s hard to recover from a bad launch: When you launch a hang glider you’ve captured a lot of energy. Ideally a pilot uses this energy to navigate and stay aloft for a while (my instructor doesn’t even take out his glider if he’s not going to stay up for at least an hour). When I have launched my glider when it wasn’t balanced I always end up taking much shorter flights because I have to spend a lot of my energy correcting the glider in the air vs. doing it correctly on the ground. In life and business, I’ve found that doing something successful on your first time out of the gate is really important. When I bought my first house I paid fair market value. I also didn’t have to do much to the property except move in and get some house mates. This positive experience is responsible for my continued interest because it did something far more valuable than making money: it built my confidence such that I believed that I could do it successfully. Now when I purchase a property, it’s almost always below market value and has a 5 or 6 figure rehab budget. This type of project would be terrible property to start one’s real estate investing career one. Thus far I’ve been training on a 330 sqft glider. I’ll work my way down to a 170 sqft one. In life it’s important to aim for a perfect launch and to do that you should set yourself up for success by starting with training wheels.

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Easy 5 Step Plan for a Successful Retirement

I used to want to be a financial planner. But after studying finance in school and doing a ton of learning on my own, I realized that the only way I could make a living at it would be to sell people things that weren’t in their best interest. I can be an amazing sales person, but I have to believe what I’m selling otherwise I lose all motivation.

When I was in college, I was a member of our Investment Portfolio Organization. Why an organization instead of a club? Simple: IPO is a much better acronym for an investment club than IPC. Anyway, we did a lot of presentations on stocks and had speakers come in and tell us about different professions that we could explore with a finance degree. There was a time when we were looking for a few people to fill open slots of time, and I volunteered to take one of them. I was a bit worried about how it would be perceived because I was the black sheep in that group: I don’t believe in actively investing in individual stocks.

I have a different method which I believe is far superior; in fact, I’ve spent many months reading countless books about this, listening to Dave Ramsey’s 3 hour radio show each day, and watching Susie Orman each week, and spent well over 30 hours preparing a 133 page PowerPoint deck walking people through my thinking and showing them why I believe what I do. It only takes 45 minutes to go through, and usually generates a lot of questions. But there are a lot of people that care less about the why and more about what to do, so I’ve distilled it down into a much shorter blog post. This is what I tell my family and friends to do. Both my brother and sister follow it. In subsequent blog posts I may go into more depth surrounding specific topics (my clever way of incentivising you to come back and read more of the things I write!).

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