When you are right, you are right...

I don't always choose to toot my own horn (you know, on the rare occasion that I'm actually right), but I read something today that harked back to my "lucky rich" article. Ben Stein just recently wrote a great article for Yahoo! Finance. Ben Stein, who most of you know from Comedy Central's Win Ben Stein's Money, is also an extremely intellegent investor and all around businessman.

Mr. Stein's article, titled "Success Is All in a Day's Work" has some very familiar themes to me. I believe very strongly in those ideas and I thoght I'd give you the cliff notes version here:

[...]I know a lot of really successful people -- in finance, in government, in politics, in Hollywood, in journalism, in literature.
Their common denominator is a modicum of talent and a capacity and an eagerness -- not just a willingness, but an eagerness -- to work like Trojans to get ahead. I don't know of one really successful, famous man or woman who didn't work insanely hard to get there and to stay there. (I don't count heirs and heiresses as successful.)
I like to believe that I know some quite successful people as well. I also know quite a few individuals that I consider quite wealthy. But my social circle is nothing like Stein's. This man knows CEO's, actors, executives at all levels, writers, politicians and pretty much the entire cultural spectrum. He knows success on levels that I'm not even aware of.

He agrees with me (or, more likely, I agree with him) that lazy people don't become what I refer to as "lucky rich". The laziest man on earth could become relatively wealthy if he's just patient and doesn't spend his money. But he's not going to become wildly successful. Is working your ass off a guarentee of becoming extremely wealthy? Not at all, but it is a prerequisite.
It's best if the seeker loves his work so much that he or she doesn't even consider it a burden, but rather a joyful, fulfilling, highly organizing principle of life.
Real estate is a great way to build wealth, but make no mistake about it. It's a lot of work. I research real estate law in my spare time (and build lots of models to get a better understanding of how real estate is affected by various variables). I spend a fair amount of time working on the accounting. I spend even more time doubling checking my accounting for errors and working on taxes. For me this is all relatively easy since I am so fascinated by the numbers and laws of real estate.

My partner Biff, on the other hand has no interest in those numbers. Oh, he's every bit as capable as I at working out the calculations (accounting math is extremely easy, and Biff is a very smart man). But for some reason or another he has very little interest in those numbers, they don't capture his interest like they do mine. However he is very good with people and has an interest in the more physical aspects of real estate. He enjoys making small repairs, or showing the apartment to prospective tenants. All of our tenants really get along well with him, he's just that type of guy.

Either one of us on our own would probably struggle to maintain a real estate investment, simply because the work would invariably outlast our patience. But since we are able to mostly stick within the areas that fascinate us, we're still pushing strong into our 3rd year of investing.

Bear that in mind if you want to get into real estate investing yourself. The work is not nessecarily difficult, but there is a lot of it to do. It's easy to fall behind on your accounting, or put off posting that vacancy advertisement if you aren't really excited about it, especially if you work another full time job like Biff and I. Being excited about real estate is a one of the most important qualities in a good real estate investor.
There's nothing wrong with seeing your life as something divorced from your work. There's not a thing amiss in not caring if you ever get to be in the headlines or on TV. But if that's what you desire, you have to get to work.