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To Understand Where I'm Going, I Have To Look Back

"Love Me or Hate Me, At Least You Know Me." - Grant Cardone


I've decided to start a blog about my life and experience as a real estate agent here in Jacksonville, FL. I want to share my journey because I believe it could help others in the real estate business or those thinking about becoming a real estate agent. It is also a way to reflect upon the past so I can collect and see patterns in my life, that may continue into the future. Further, it's a personal goal of mine to write and publish a book later in my life.


I do want to let you know up front that I do not intend to offend anyone in these blog posts.

It's true that many of my personal thoughts about the real estate industry are not mainstream, and I'm glad they're not, because no one would find any value in a mainstream blog. In many cases, I'll reference my past experiences which may initially appear to have nothing to do with real estate, but do tie in. Context is everything. Thank you for reading and I appreciate your comments or questions.

The Beginning: My First Obsession

I grew up in Falls Church, Virginia which is an incredible place to grow up. It's just a 15-20 minute Metro ride into the Super Bowl of the political system, and is riddled with history. It's busy with highly motivated individuals and feels like a world of its own. I am the youngest of three brothers and have amazing parents who have been together 40+ years. Since I was young, my parents encouraged us to go after what we wanted and we received unlimited support for our interests. My dad coached our soccer and basketball teams and was there (and is still there) for us whenever we need literally anything, and my mom taught (and still teaches) us to be critical thinkers, writers, and to think bigger. We always had an open household. My brothers and I constantly had friends over for dinner and participated in nearly everything, between sports, academics, and extracurricular actives. We never really sat still, and everyone felt like an extension of our family. We are grateful for all of those friendships. I had a very fortunate childhood and am very grateful for what I have and the opportunities that have been created for me.


My life started to change at the age of 8, when I encountered my first obsession: playing strategy card games. I love and still love strategy games and that's something I don't think will ever change. The first thing I was ever the "best" at in my life was the Pokémon strategy card game. As an 8-year old, the strategy game was very popular. There were movies, and people would bring their cards to school. My brothers were interested in it, too. Actually, my oldest brother would go to camps and bring his cards. He would trade lower priced cards, for higher priced cards with other kids, and then sell them back to the card shop for a higher price. Other kids didn't know the value of theirs cards, and most of the time, just liked them for the way they looked, rather than for their market value. Little did we know at that time, that my older brother was a talented 11-year-old arbitrageur!

Although I thought my brother's arbitrage was really interesting, I was more interested in learning and mastering the game. You only get 60 cards to a deck to "fight" your opponent, and using statistics and different sets of cards, and their weaknesses and strengths, you can create some very interesting combinations that will work against any opponent.

I would consistently and urgently test different sets of cards through practice. I was obsessed. I would play for hours every day and my dad helped us travel to different card shops to play in tournaments. I surrounded myself with other people who loved the game. After the first few tournaments, my brothers, dad, and I would sit down and adjust our decks. It was fascinating to me. One slight change -- one card out of 60 -- could make all the difference between winning and losing. Every card was important, and there was no room for not being purposeful. Further, it takes great foresight to gauge my opponent's next move.

With the amount of research and testing that we did, we all excelled at the game very quickly and starting winning nearly every tournament. Wizards of The Coast, the company that was creating the cards at that time, caught on. Before we knew it, I had an invitation to go play at regional events. Once I started winning regional events, and eventually became a World Champion Pokemon Master, my dad and I were invited to Hawaii to represent the United States at the Tropical Mega Battle against players from Japan and a few other countries. It was incredible. This was the farthest I could imagine going in the card game, and unfortunately, it was as far as I got.

The Defeat

Between translators and the other kids using cards I had never seen before, my chance at greatness in Hawaii was quickly over. I was completely unprepared for the way things went down. My first opponent was playing with a card that let him flip a coin until he got a tails, and the card then did damage times the number of heads. At the time, you were allowed to choose between using a coin, such as a quarter, a plastic flipper, or an automatic flipper that shows up red for tails or green for heads.

Before I knew it, the kid across from me was flipping the plastic flipper over and over again and it always landed on heads! The game was over. I turned to the judge and asked if my opponent could instead use the automatic flipper. He said no; the kid was allowed to choose which method of "flipping" he wanted. I found out after getting creamed in the first round, that this kid had perfected the art of flipping a piece of plastic so that it would always land on heads. He practiced daily to get the perfect number of rotations, height, and speed so that way he could never lose whenever he got to play this card. I was surprised to see that this kid really got satisfaction from flipping his coin, too. I didn't understand it. But he took the "luck" aspect out of the strategy game, and gained an edge I never could have expected. That's when I learned there's not just one way to get to the top.


Although I thought the practices this kid used were not within the intention of the card creators, this kid truly was playing within the rules of the game. Rather, it felt like there really were no rules to the game. He created the rules within the rules. Finding loopholes rather than strategic advantages felt to him like the way to win, as long as none of the creators evened the playing field and fixed the loopholes. Instead of memorizing every card or anticipating his opponent's next move, this kid practiced a different skill, one which would only be useful as long as the game creators allowed his technique. The moment I was feeling at the top in my Hawaii tournament, I got wiped out. I had been defeated. But my dad and I never really talked about it and just enjoyed the rest of our trip.

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I am at the bottom middle left with glasses and a backwards hat.

My opponent, the coin flipping champion of the world, is at the bottom right.

-JB

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