Peter Conti is a seasoned pro in commercial real estate, and has an online career longer than James. James, in fact, owes a debt of gratitude to Peter for a tip given him a decade ago, when he was new to the space.
In this episode, Peter shares where he is in his business journey and how he got there. It’s a story of resilience and adaptation you’ll be sure to take something away from.
In the interview:
James first met Peter Conti in the United States, attending a conference. Peter had been running conferences and recording information for his audience, largely about property.
The tip that’s served James for a decade
He gave James a tip that has stood him in good stead for roughly a decade. It was simply, When you run events, chapterize them. Have a specific session or segment, put the title slide for that, create your content around it, and present that as your segment in the workshop. That way, later, you can take the recordings, and you can sell them, you can put them into an online version, or whatever, and they’re chapterized, ready to go.
“When you run events, chapterize them.”
With that advice, James was able to sell DVDs of his content. He has all the recordings from SuperFastBusiness Live in SuperFastBusiness membership, by title and presenter. He would brief his speakers on who his audience was, what problem they needed solved, what was the appropriate level for them. He’d go through their presentations in advance, then stack the modules together over a couple of days at SuperFastBusiness Live.
People would come out of the event saying everything was exactly what they needed, and it was all thanks to the research and pre-work. James will always be grateful for that tip.
A couple of topics we hope to cover
What James would really like to talk about is a couple of things. One, Peter has been online longer and gone through more iterations of his business than James has. So from one online business owner to another, what does a seasoned online business look like for him and how did he get there?
Second is a sort of side note topic. He’d like to hear about a personal challenge of Peter’s – being a successful business operator, having a setback, and coming back from that.
Just before hitting record for the episode, Peter had said how much a previous episode with Marianne Kane, on the topic of pain, had resonated with him. James responds that having a relationship with pain and talking about it is part therapy for him, and part discovery, but it’s also saying to other business owners that it’s not going to always be easy as an entrepreneur.
“It’s not going to always be easy as an entrepreneur.”
When challenges come he goes back to one of his favorite episodes with Nam Baldwin, who shared the acronym NEAT – it’s Normal to have these setbacks, we should Expect them, we should then Accept them, and then we should Tidy up mentally.
An encounter with pain, and the journey of recovery
Peter begins his backstory with investing in real estate in 1990. He started his info business in 1997. And about eight years ago, against his wife’s advice, he was out riding a dirt bike, something he now says he shouldn’t have been doing in his 50s. He had an accident that shattered his hip and dislocated his femur. As they worked on him in the hospital, a nerve in his leg was crushed, which resulted in excruciating pain.
When you’re in terrible pain every day, says Peter, you just can’t function. He sold off a lot of real estate, sold his information company off to a business partner, and focused on getting better. It was a long journey, which continues today. But during it, Peter decided he was going to hike the Appalachian Trail, about 2,190 miles from Georgia to Maine.
It took him 11 months, spread out over a year and a half. He’s writing a book about his adventure. But what he really got to do while hiking was think through how he worked with clients. He had grown a big company with 35 employees and 17 coaches working for him at one point, and he wasn’t ever quite discontent with that.
People he didn’t know used to thank him at conferences for inspiring them to buy property. He realized that some of the best fun he ever had was when he was working with people directly.
So when he’d done hiking and was healthy enough to work, Peter decided to start with a clean slate and do something that let him work directly with clients.
The membership tool that really does do everything
Over a couple of years, Peter tried a number of different membership tools that just frustrated him. Then a friend recommended 10XPRO, saying that it did everything – landing page, membership, forum, etc., all in one.
Peter tried it and was very pleased. He’s been using it now for about two and a half years, and, as his friend said, it does everything. He likes how you can put something up quickly, and how it manages the members. And he likes the flat pricing and great support.
They use it with ActiveCampaign. And the nice thing, says Peter, is when stuff go through their shopping carts, it just takes a web hook to 10XPRO to let the customer access whatever they need in the membership area. And it happens automatically.
James uses Ontraport with 10XPRO, and he loves how you can fire off tags, control actions, and send tasks into your CRM system, all based on where people go or what you want them to do. It’s incredibly powerful but can be as simple as you want, deploying a whole campaign at the click of a button.
What the typical week looks like for Peter
What does Peter do with his time, in the course of a week? They’re up to six grandkids, he says, and 27 hours away from home driving distance. That will change, hopefully, when planes open up again. At time of recording he’s been out there about a month and a half to spend time with two of his grandchildren.
When he’s not traveling, he treats his injury with two and a half hours or so a day of physical therapy. He walks in a therapy pool, rides his bike, does stretching and walking. We need to get in our exercise anyway, he says, so it’s not a burden. He enjoys the activity.
And about a year ago, Peter started a small group of commercial real estate investors, working with them directly. It’s been a blast, he says, working with people right at the front lines, going through and looking at all the things they encounter.
He’s taking a lot of the new tools they have, many developed through 10XPRO, and automating every step he can of the investing process, from analyzing deals to writing contracts.
Streamlining the process for real estate investors
Buying real estate, Peter realizes, can be scary for someone who hasn’t done it before, so he’s trying to take all the procrastination out of the process.
They put together a CRM that does marketing for their clients. Years ago, real estate required a lot of personal skills. You had to create rapport and connection and meet people, get them to know, like and trust you. Peter would help people to syndicate deals, bring in outside passive investors. Now clients don’t want to call anyone.
So Peter’s goal is to streamline things for them, make calls and marketing inbound. He created an investor funnel, where you can’t market directly for investors, but you can offer training.
He put together a training that shows people how to invest with their IRA. It’s recorded in a female voice, and he licenses it to his clients, who put it out to potential investors in their market saying, Would you like to learn how to do X? Their name is on it, and the investor thinks they created the content.
Peter and his team are doing the same thing with the newsletter they write for clients. The clients get to be the expert, and when they’ve created a relationship with the potential investors, they can invite them to invest in property.
How has 2020 impacted real estate marketing?
What changes has Peter seen in the market since last year? asks James. Is it super out of control? Is it crazy? Are people restless and sick of living in the same place? Is he mostly just doing commercial investment property? What insights has he seen out in the field?
As far as real estate goes, says Peter, apartment buildings have remained strong. They’re focusing on apartment, multi-unit apartment buildings, self storage facilities, mobile home parks, office buildings, and retail is softening.
James says he wouldn’t want to be in commercial office space. A lot of people working from home don’t want to go back to work. But he imagines storage places and trailer parks would have to be a solid bet through any kind of rocky times.
What’s interesting to Peter is that because people are working from home, they think maybe they should be doing something on their own. There’s been a lot of interest in what he and his team are doing. And other people he’s talked to, with any type of high-ticket coaching funnel type product, are doing incredibly well right now.
How the technology has affected real estate staging
Back then, says Peter, when someone said, Hey, I’ll buy your property, it would be, Well great, where are you? Where can we meet? Let’s drive. And now it’s, How about if we meet on Zoom?
James asks, Do you get virtual walk arounds now? Do you need to see a property to buy it when you’re a commercial investor?
Peter is fortunate enough that he partners with his clients, so he usually has a set of boots on the ground. But there’s so many services now where you can just hop online and hire a photographer to do video or drone footage for property, or find out stuff that you used to go and do yourself. And if you can find somebody for very little money that gets the job done faster and quicker than you could, why not do it from home?
They also use virtual staging now, using property photographs. You’ll see nice furniture and furnishings and flowers and paintings up on the walls, where it was actually an empty photo of a room that they digitally decorated.
Some advice against taking the hobbyist approach
What would Peter say to someone just coming into the online world – maybe they’ve sold a service, dabbled, made perhaps $10,000 with their first iteration – and are on the fence about platform, where $300 a month or $150 a month sounds like a lot for a tool that they could probably glue together, a free page builder, and a one-time or cheap cart?
Peter recalls years ago when courses were physical – CDs and DVDs and printed manuals. He suggested to his partner putting them together themselves and saving some money. And his partner said, No Peter. Where we want to go, and where we’re willing to grow this business, our time is much too valuable to be putting courses together.
Peter thinks, if someone’s going to build a business, they can either decide to dabble and have a piece-together type of business that never gets off the ground, or they can look at the big picture and ask, How do I choose the right tools that I’m going to be able to grow with? Why not go with something like 10XPRO to start with, that allows you to do almost everything? Why not look at the business you want to build and go out and build it?
And another thing, he says, the cool thing about online and the information business is that everything is really a test. You can put something together, and even if you totally bombed in your first iteration of a sales funnel or a page or a presentation or whatever, you’ve got results. You can go from there.
And the costs of an online business compared to brick and mortar is minimal. You can actually trial 10XPRO for $1. You’ve got a month to build and see if you can make $1 back. If you can, then roll on. And if not, you can cancel it. It’s very low risk.
Learning from your setbacks, physical or otherwise
What is Peter’s advice for someone who has a setback?
First off, he says, as hard as it was to go through more intense pain than anyone probably has a right to feel in their life, he wouldn’t change anything. His experience and hiking the entire Appalachian Trail was incredible. He’s met people who have lived in chronic pain their entire lives. He’s met people who just really struggle, and it’s given him a whole new appreciation for life.
But the biggest thing, he thinks, was time. Probably most of the people following this podcast or James are go getters. They want to do more, be more, live a bigger, better life, have a lifestyle and freedom. The downside to that is always looking ahead to the future, always building and wanting to be financially secure.
One of the things Peter got out of hiking was, Hey, I need to just enjoy this moment. I need to listen to the birds, you know, and the trees, and the woodpeckers. And he had time to think about all the funny little things his kids did over the years and just really appreciate being now and in the moment. Since being on his hike, he thinks he’s much better able to enjoy the present moment and enjoy everything we have.
James can relate. Years ago, work for him was kind of an obsession. When you discover the power of the internet, he says, and how it’s always open, and it’s unlimited, it’s like a game you can play that has infinity levels, and you keep seeing the potential rewards. For him, surfing was his grounding, and it’s changed his life profoundly.
So don’t wait for a disaster to reassess how things are going, he says. Whether it’s the surfing, whether it’s the trails, find your thing where you can be away from the machine, to contemplate what is important to you and how you want to live your life.
Peter’s book about his injury and hiking adventure is called Only When I Step On It, and from time of recording is due to be out in roughly a month.
For people interested in commercial real estate, they might start with his book, Commercial Real Estate Investing for Dummies, which he says was great fun to make. At time of recording Peter was giving away 1000 free copies at petersfreebook.com.
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