Every investor knows that if you are going to build something, you need the right tools. Sometimes you will use physical tools, and sometimes your toolbox will consist of intangibles more powerful than a hammer or drill ever could be. No

matter where you are on your real estate investing journey, I hope that you always seek to learn and grow your toolbox. Through the years I have developed a business toolbox that I am constantly seeking to fill, and I’d like to share some of those tools with you.

1| Straight Speech

Say what you mean, mean what you say and don’t say you are going to do it if you are not going to do it.

I learned this from my Dad, sometimes the hard way. He used to say to me all of the time, “Why did you tell me you were going to pick up your room and then not do it? If you’re not going to do it, then don’t even say that you are going to do it!”

Or maybe it went something like this: “Don’t tell me you are going to be here at 6:00 to work on the race car tonight and then show up at 8:00. If you’re going to show up at 8:00 then just say that you are going to show up at 8:00!”

Today, I never say I’ll do anything that I’m not 100-percent certain I’ll be able to do. Some might complain that this makes me noncommittal, but I will not give an easy answer I cannot follow through on just to have given someone an answer. I routinely buy race trucks and engines just on my word because I am realistic about how much I can pay and when.

Twice this year, I’ve purchased race trucks for $25,000 each, making payments over the course of several weeks of a few thousand dollars at a time. One team owner told me that my credit was good with him any time because I stick by my commitments once I make them every time. Recently, we desperately needed to purchase a new engine, so I laid out a payment plan to the owner of an engine we wanted. I don’t think my ideas quite suited him, because he acted like I was crazy. I had to tell him that I would not waste his time trying to figure out a different way to pay because there was no way I was going to promise more than I could handle. I walked away from the deal and found someone who could work on my pay schedule and ultimately ended up with a better engine anyway.

The moment you break those promises your reputation, and eventually your business, takes a hit. It can be so easy to say you’ll call someone or meet up for lunch when you’re busy networking. I can’t tell you how many times I heard people say that at the last Think Realty event that I attended! It’s so important to try to make and keep those dates, though. Promising phone calls and meetings that you never intend to make can be as detrimental to your reputation as lying or stealing.

2| A Good Checklist

I’m baffled that in this day and age people trust themselves and their memory to accomplish all of the tasks pop up each and every day. In our technology-driven world, it’s far too easy to get distracted. The way I see it: Why risk it? I take checklists to the extreme. When I complete a task, if I didn’t originally have it on my checklist I will write it down, just so I can check it off!

I thrive off of the feeling of accomplishment, so there is no better feeling than seeing an entire page of tasks completed. I am a written checklist kind of person. I need to highlight the very important, deadline items and circle the things that did not get done in a day that need priority attention tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean I won’t use my smartphone if my pen and highlighter aren’t handy. “Hey Siri, remind me to.…” is a great tool. There are countless apps where you can organize your lists – two of my favorites are Evernote and A Note (also known as Awesome Note).

3| Your Vision Board

“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” – William Arthur Ward

As a child, every night and every morning, I woke up to a poster next to my bed with the above quote. In the book and movie “The Secret” Ward’s concept of imagining and dreaming in order to achieve is referred to as the Law of Attraction. Vision boards can play a huge role in helping you imagine, dream, believe, and achieve.

For me, that process worked like this: In the year 2000 I made a list (not even a vision board) with things on it including, Cadillac Escalade, enclosed race trailer, top of the line computer, physical weight at 135, etc. You see, it doesn’t have to be all business all the time! Eleven years later, I found that list with some of those far out-of-reach items on it and realized I had owned or had accomplished every single item. I did not even think about or meditate on the list after I made it, but I was working every day to accomplish those goals.

Now, at least once a year I sit down to dream big and make a list or a vision board. Today my list includes: win a NASCAR race, better engines, and a world class race shop destination in my hometown. I can’t wait to look back at this list in another ten years.

Truthfully, my parents were not dreamers the way you might think they were based on the poster by my bed. In fact, they routinely urged me to “play it safe” as I traveled my road to my dreams. In real estate, you will find plenty of people who love you and want the best for you who may not necessarily give you the best advice and may tell you to “play it safe” when you ought to be giving your entrepreneurial drive your all. A vision board will help you keep your focus sharp and your dreams alive.

As you reach milestones and levels of success it is easy to coast. As you grow your real estate portfolio find a set of tools that can help you not only stay on track, but grow. I would love to hear what tools you have to grow your business.

Jennifer Jo Cobb currently competes in the NASCAR Camping World Truck and select XFINITY Series racing events. She recently partnered with Think Realty parent company, Affinity Worldwide, as part of her mission to reach a broader audience with her message of bold entrepreneurialism. She will be a regular contributor to the magazine and motivator for Think Realty members.

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