How I Lost the Election

It’s election season. Can’t seem to listen to the radio, search the Web, or watch TV without getting a heavy dose of campaign ads and news alerts.
But the story I want to tell has nothing to do with the political craziness going on right now. It’s about how I lost an important election in high school and how that influenced my future.
My family and I are taking a trip this summer to a remote island in Alaska, where I grew up. I say remote, and it is—the only way there is by boat or plane, but the town is actually a decent size by Alaskan standards. About 8,000 people live in Sitka. My folks moved there in the ’60s for good-paying jobs and stayed until after I graduated high school.
I’ve heard rumors of a reunion this summer for my graduating class, which would be fun to catch while we’re up there. This prompted the following conversation with my wife, Amanda.
“Is there anybody you can contact who would have more information about your reunion?” she asked.
“I have no idea.”
“Well, who was your class president? They’re usually in charge of that.”
“Uh oh.”
“What’s wrong?”
“I was class president,” I said.
“I was class president every year, sixth through twelfth grade.”
“Sounds like you were Mister Popular.”
“Not really. I just got along with people, volunteered when an opportunity came about, and thought I could do some good.”
“How come you never mentioned this before?”
“It’s something I don’t like to think about.”
This story is about the why.
I quickly found out that class president is a mostly ceremonial position. I had high hopes each year when I was elected president, but soon found out my hands were tied, my voice didn’t hold much weight against the traditional establishment.
I watched others who ran for class president in higher grades use jokes and popularity to get the position for no other reason than to see if they could win. They never did anything once they won.
However, when I was in high school, I watched those who were elected student body president of the school, and I could see they had the ear of the principal, the superintendent, and the school board. I could see that someone in that position could actually influence some change, and that idea kept me running for class president each year, to put in my time and be in the best position to be student body president my senior year.
The day of that election for student body president, I felt confident. I was prepared for my speech. I knew I was well liked. I had nothing to worry about.
I did have a competitor. I didn’t really know him. He had not shown any interest in running until a day or two before the election.
The current student body president was a friend of mine. He introduced both of us, and then he gave me the microphone to give my speech first.
So there I was, standing in front of the school (about 500 people). I gave the speech I had rehearsed. I got a nice round of applause and sat down. Everything was going to plan.
Then my competitor got up, and just before he started speaking, a few things happened. First, rock ’n’ roll music started playing from somewhere in the gymnasium. Then a couple of the more popular girls in the school came down and gave him a kiss on the cheek as he started into a rehearsed and polished monologue that got the crowd laughing and cheering.
I clearly remember thinking, as I sat there watching this unfold, exactly what I would say if I got the chance to follow up such a production.
He finished to great applause and sat down, and before I knew it the candidate who was running for junior class president stood to give his speech. I never got a rebuttal. That just wasn’t something that was ever done. The program continued until all the candidates finished speaking, and the students went back to their classrooms to vote.
My friends assured me that even though the other guy’s speech was entertaining, our classmates knew I was the better choice.
I lost the election by fifteen votes.
I also learned my competitor was in the drama club, and he had been rehearsing his performance for quite some time. The girls who participated in his speech were also part of the drama club.
Naturally I was bummed out. Around my friends I pretended that I didn’t care, that it saved me the headache of doing the job. But secretly I had a hard time letting go. I would go over and over in my head exactly what I would have said if I had gone second or at least had a chance to speak again after my competitor. I felt like all the time I’d put into the process was wasted.
Even though I had lost the election for student body president, I was written in as the winner for senior class president. It was a nice token, but I’d already become disenchanted with the whole thing. Of course, the new student body president didn’t do anything worthwhile. For him, it was more about winning than about making a difference with the position. I’m sure it looked great on his resume when he applied to colleges.
I still dream about that day. Even while I’m awake, I’ll catch myself going over what I would have said if I had gone second.
It shouldn’t have bothered me so much. I attended night school at the community college in the freed up time, which ultimately let me complete a year of college credit before graduating high school.
After the conversation with my wife, I found myself stewing over that day again. This time I internally yelled at myself for dwelling on something so far in the past and trivial. I tried to psychoanalyze myself to see what it was about that day that still bothered me.
The answer I came up with is that I felt regret. Even though it was random fate that had me speak first, I still felt regret for not having another chance to speak, to be heard again, to tell more of my story.
Maybe that’s why I write stories, books, and blogs; create magazines; host radio shows and podcasts. Not because I love to write or to perform, but because my opportunity was thwarted in the past.
I also realized how much I don’t like to lose. I’m fine with losing when I feel like I’ve given it my all and put forth my best effort. But I almost never play games like poker, because I get too frustrated and don’t like people seeing that side of me. I would enjoy poker more if I studied the game and practiced on my own to build up my skills prior to playing. But going in cold without understanding the best strategies to win—I just don’t like to be in that position.
I’m the same way with real estate. In the early years of my career, I didn’t seek real estate listings because I didn’t feel like I was fully prepared to do my best for my clients. I wasn’t convinced that I could “win”—that I was completely prepared to out-market, outperform, and outshine the competition.  
So I studied. I learned new tricks and skills until I felt I could outperform even the biggest names in my profession with any listing I took. When it comes to business and helping my clients, I don’t want to have restless nights thinking about what I could have done, if only I had a second chance. I want to win. I make sure my clients get the best price and the best outcome every time.
Turns out, losing that election helped me win in many other areas of my life, and in business. Now that I can see that clearly, I don’t think I will be stewing over that lost election anymore.  If I see the guy who won at my class reunion this summer, I’ll be sure to go out of my way to thank him.

How One Book Changed My Life

I remember wandering the aisles of a Barnes & Noble in San Diego. My wife and I were in town so she could attend a writers’ conference. Amanda, my wife, was anxious because she had written her first book and would be pitching it to prospective agents and trying to make some connections at the conference.

I was killing time and not really looking for a particular book. My mind was busy wondering what the next chapter in our lives would look like. Amanda clearly had vision for herself—whether she would be a starving writer or a successful writer, she knew deep in her soul that she wanted to write. I, on the other hand, felt lost. I didn’t have a clear idea what I wanted to do. I was only twenty-five years old and had already been a commercial fisherman in Alaska (where I grew up), owned and operated a landscaping business, achieved a business degree, obtained a captain's license to drive ships, served active duty and reserves as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, and was hired as a marine logistics operator and location scout on movies and TV shows around the world. Working in TV and movies was great but grueling work and was a temporary gig—my last job had ended, and I felt lost and concerned about what my next step would be. I needed to do something that would make money because our savings would soon run out.

That’s when I saw a book called Retire Young, Retire Rich by Robert T. Kiyosaki. I was instantly intrigued by the title.

Back when I was a teenager and running my first business (mowing lawns), I told my parents I would retire early. They laughed as they shared this information with their friends at dinner parties. Not that they didn’t believe me, they just thought it was funny to hear those words coming from a sixteen-year-old. I, of course, never knew how I would retire early, but I knew how it felt to own a business and I just believed that I would, indeed, retire young.

So I took Retire Rich, Retire Young back to our hotel room. I devoured the book—it lit my soul on fire and ignited my brain with ideas about what to do with the next chapter of my life. If you are unfamiliar with Robert Kiyosaki, he is the author of the Rich Dad, Poor Dad books (I've read most everything his has written, I recommend them). Much of what he illustrates in his books is how to rewire your brain to think like an entrepreneur instead of an employee, and to acquire the mindset to be a successful business owner.

I remember thinking: I wish I had read this book in high school, or at least in college. Not that I had made bad choices up to that point, but it would have helped me be more strategic with my decision making. The book reignited my passion for owning and operating my own business. I decided right then I would never work for anybody else again, unless I wanted to learn a specific skill from them.

I knew from both running a business and being an employee that owning a business is way harder than working for someone else. An employee may have a difficult job, but eventually they clock out, go home, and don’t have to deal with work until the next morning. As a business owner, you never clock out. You are always on call. You never finish your work, because there is always more to do. The upside of being a business owner is that, if you can find a way to work smarter, outperform others, outwork others, and beat the competition with your superior service or product, you can earn unlimited income, as opposed to an employee’s set wage.

Even though the core advantage of owning a business is unlimited income potential, that has never been the part that got me excited. Sure, I like to make money. But I love to compete. I love to experiment. I love to create or produce something that helps others. I love to solve problems.

I was motivated to retire early so that I would eventually be free to choose how, when, and on what I worked. It was never about not working.

So after reading Retire Rich, Retire Young, I focused on what I wanted to do next. Later that year I found myself in real estate school, and I had already flipped one house.

I never had any intention of becoming a real estate agent. When I enrolled to get my license, I was focused on being a real estate investor. I signed up for real estate school just to gain access to the MLS, so I could work my own deals. I thought maybe I’d learn something valuable in the process. But the more the instructor talked about a career in real estate, the more excited I got about becoming an agent who helps others succeed in real estate. At the time, the real estate market was booming. I had previously worked with real estate agents, and the experience made me think: If they can do it, then I know I can.

"Years before, when I attended college, I lived in a small town in California called Benicia. This town had a cute and walkable downtown lined with a variety of shops and restaurants, and I remember wondering why there were so many real estate offices. It felt like half the town must be licensed agents. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around why so many people would choose to work in real estate. There was so much competition. There were hundreds of agents that I, as a consumer, could choose to work with in that small town. It seemed absurd. I remember thinking that being a Realtor listed in one of those shop windows was the last thing I ever wanted to be."

It’s funny how life changes in unexpected ways.

Sitting in a classroom full of prospective agents, I couldn’t help but notice how different we all were. We all had different backgrounds and different motives for being in that class. I wondered who would be successful and who would not. The instructor told us on the final day that statistically in a room of twenty-five new agents, only four or five would remain in business after two years. This naturally caused everyone to look around and wonder who would make it. I didn’t understand yet why so few of us would make it. The job just didn’t seem that tough. I knew there was a lot of competition out there from other agents, but there was a lot of opportunity as well.

I got my license and became one of four thousand agents working in my community of four hundred thousand people (Boise, Idaho). I knew only three local people at the time, and one of them was a real estate agent. I had just moved up from California, because real estate was more affordable in Idaho. I joined a national franchise brokerage, forwent all other job opportunities, and focused on my real estate career full time. I was full of optimism and hope. I figured that with my strong work ethic I could work really hard and create a great career and business as an agent.

That was ten years ago. I could fill a book with the war stories and craziness that transpired in those ten years. Some day I will.

On paper, I am in no way the most successful agent in my community. Nor am I the most well known. I am certainly not the most profitable. However, I do believe I am building the strongest real estate business in my community. If you know me, you know that I am not just a real estate agent. I own my real estate office, Front Street Brokers, out of which about twenty agents operate. I’ve hosted a radio show about real estate and the local economy for the past five years. I’m in the process of finishing my second book on real estate. I have two podcasts in production right now, while also producing three magazine publications. My office is creating our own 501(c)(3) charitable organization. I have a lot going on.

We all define success differently. Some agents or clients might look at all the things I do and wonder how I can be an effective real estate agent. My response is that I wouldn’t be effective if I wasn’t surrounded by the right people. With the right support, I can focus on out-marketing the competition with my real estate listings. I can afford to experiment with new ideas and bolder marketing plans, while my competitors focus on what they’ve always done.

I do make mistakes—lots of them. For example, a couple of years ago I created my own real estate newspaper and mailed it to more than ten thousand people every month. This took a huge amount of time, and about $7,000 a month to print and mail. I gambled that it would help me sell my listings and get new listings in the process. I tried this experiment for close to a year, and it failed miserably. I got one listing from those efforts and lost more than $50,000.   (You can see some of my past publications by clicking here or the images below)

But I don’t regret it. I always learn from my mistakes. It wasn’t a bad idea—it just wasn’t executed correctly.

These mistakes often lead to amazing successes. For instance, following the failure of the newspaper, I created a publication for real estate agents. Now I can showcase my listings to the four thousand real estate agents in my community. I have a tool to sell my listings that no other agent in the valley has. I’ve tweaked it and changed it over the years to make it more effective, and now it’s one of my best tools for selling my listings.

As a real estate agent, my goal is not to be the top-producing agent in my community. However, I do desire to be the most effective one. I desire to find new ways to help people in my community. I desire to pass on what I’ve learned to as many agents as possible so they can do the same. It feels amazing to help others succeed, whether they’re my clients or fellow agents. Helping others is what fuels me. I don’t believe that will ever go away.

The Turner's in Brazil January 2016
This is me and my family during our trip to Brazil
I often wonder how different my life would be if I hadn’t picked up that book. It changed the course of my life. Without it, would I likely have continued to find interesting jobs? Yes, I think so, but I wonder if I would be in the position to help others that I’m in now.

I sometimes feel like the luckiest man on the planet. I have an amazing wife and two daughters whom I cherish. I get to help people every day. I get to implement my new ideas and learn something new every day. I reinvest most of what I make back into my business, so we live fairly modestly. But I feel wealthy. Even though I work twelve hours a day, I feel like I retired early.

This past summer, I passed on the “Retire Early, Retire Rich” book to a family friend who just graduated high school. I told him that he didn’t need to read it now, but if he ever felt like he was at a crossroads where he couldn’t decide what to do next, it might be time to read it.
Maybe it will change his life too.

2016 Boise Real Estate Predictions

I created a 15 minute video on what I see and predict for the 2016 Boise real estate market. Watch Video

This video is long but I wanted to be to be sure to include all the most important elements impacting the Boise real estate market.  

I always have some concerns, but 2015 year data, mixed what I am seeing for 2016 has me very bullish for local market.  See my predictions and my analysis. 

If you have questions about the Boise real estate market.  Just give me a call 208-340-8399.  
If you are thinking about listing your home in this year, I recommend you get a free copy of my book I wrote for sellers.  It could literaly save you 10's of thousands of dollars.  I give away free copies to anyone who donates $5 to their favorite charity (on the honor system, I don't actually check).  The goal is all about give back my knowledge and finding new ways to give back my community.  
Follow link to get a free copy of Mike Turner's Book on Selling Real Estate

Here is another link to my video on 2016 Boise Real Estate Market

The Supervillains of Real Estate - Part 1

An Open Letter To (and a bit of humor for) Lighthearted Boise Residents Who Do Not Highly Trust Real Estate Agents…

Can you tell that I’ve been watching a lot of superhero type of movies with my kids recently? :-) 

A few months ago, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) released a 163-page report titled, The Danger Report—consisting of content true to its title. It outlined in detail the dangers that threaten the long-term survival of the real estate industry, as respect for the real estate agent continues to erode and deteriorate.
The number one threat on that list, “The real estate industry is saddled with a large number of untrained, unethical and/or incompetent agents. This knowledge gap threatens the credibility of the industry.”

Yes, that is true – but who cares about the threats to the real estate industry? Why is the trade organization (NAR) so concerned about the survival of the industry, when, if they just imposed higher standards, and a greater focus and priority on the consumer, they could turn back the clock to a time when their “survival” wasn’t at risk?

In my experience, just as the industry is fighting for its survival, so is every agent. This, for many obvious reasons, presents a great danger to the consumer. In the game of ethics, too often I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle. Like Gotham City in the Batman movies and comics, I’ve found real estate has a way of bringing out the worst in people. There is some great science behind why this happens, explaining why good people do unethical things.

It can be summarized, though, in one word. Survival.

And the extent someone will go to, to “survive,” (i.e. collect a commission check, secure his or her next client) is almost endless.

In fact, studies show only about 3% of the population is greed-driven, to the point where someone would actually participate in criminal behavior (think of the Bernie Madoff-types). But, scarier! Nearly every human on Earth, if/when injected with sufficient desperation (the most powerful force on Earth – because it’s tied to survival) can be motivated to do bad things.

Key phrase: Motivated…to do “bad” things

Unfortunately, and sadly, this often results in homeowners experiencing Horror Stories. And, the agents that cause these Horror Stories, I refer to them, only half-jokingly, as real estate’s Supervillains.


There is Captain Bait-and-Switch, Dr. Ego, The Cheetah, Mr. Mojo, The Gatekeeper and more. 

But let me introduce you, this week, to The Cheetah:

No doubt a funny name for a Real Estate Supervillain, but he’s known for his speed and determination. If you think you can escape him, think again. He’s faster than you, more persistent than you. He’s more determined than you too. This Supervillain possesses the evil superpower of pursuit. Once he’s identified you as someone interested “in buying or selling a home,” or any piece of real estate – you become prey.

The Cheetah is the ultimate predator. He will call you, and call you, and call you. Email you, and email you, and email you. This Supervillain is the king of jumping to conclusions – he assumes (and you can’t stop him from doing so) that you are his client, when you’re not. He is insanely possessive. In the real world, this Supervillain most closely resembles an obsessed stalker.

He sees the “chase” as just lighthearted and fun. He sees himself with a distorted view; he thinks he’s just being helpful. Personal boundaries and social cues mean nothing to this Supervillain. When he’s ignored or politely blown off (or even rudely blown off), he doesn’t get the hint.

“So, you’re playing hard to get?” he says to himself. He then pounds a Red Bull, and grabs his second wind.

The only protection against this Supervillain is to safeguard your contact information. Your phone number, your email – you can’t let him get it. The Cheetah is a telemarketer extraordinaire. He is an email and follow-up ninja. If you avoid him, he will knock on your door and peep through your windows. He has the tongue of a politician. There’s no shaking this super-salesman-Supervillain – he is built and engineered for pursuit.

My advice: Stay out of his crosshairs! Lay low, do your best to stay off the grid…out of sight, out of mind is your only form of protection.

Once The Cheetah identifies you as a “prospect,” there’s absolutely no saving you – you’ve earned yourself a stalker. And he’s fast, and cunning. If push comes to shove, consider a restraining order :-)

I’m telling you, folks, protect yourself. The Cheetah is the one real estate Supervillain you simply can’t outrun. 

Next month, or perhaps in several future installments, I will outline the evil character traits of the other Supervillains that live among us, causing homeowners Horror Stories.

I know my description is delivered somewhat tongue-and-cheek—to be humorous—but the seed of comedy is truth. If you’ve never bought a home before, maybe you haven’t yet experienced the harassment-like behavior of The Cheetah. But if you have, you likely know all too well the truth that was presented in the description above.

Good luck out there :-)

Mike Turner 


P.S. Before you list your home this year be sure to read my book so you can maximize what you get on your sale. Not sold in book stores called “The Value Driven Approach to Selling Real Estate”. To get a free copy of my book just donate $5 to your favorite charity (on the honor system) and I'll send you a free copy. Just follow the link from my website:   

Vacation Home For Free?

How To Own A Vacation Home 

In McCall Idaho For Free

Nothing is free, of course, but I want to show you how easy it could be for you to pay for a vacation home in McCall by renting it out just 10 days a month. Then have it for yourself the remaining 20 days of the month!

Here are the steps to take — and the math to show you it’s possible:

First, decide if McCall is where you want to be. National Geographic just named McCall the #1 Best Secret Ski Town in North America. Record snow levels this year at Brundage Mountain are off the hook. Plus, McCall isn’t just a winter adventure getaway — it’s summers on Payette Lake and year-round views of our iconic Idaho landscape. (Sure, Ketchum is awesome too, but so few can afford their prices, and they don’t have that gorgeous lake.) If you make regular trips to McCall but find yourself renting or staying with friends, it may be time to consider another option.

McCall - Brundage

Next, identify what is available in the McCall area. There are quite a few options; it comes down to what is important to you. I can’t answer for you, so here’s what’s important to me:  A) A secure and safe location (there’s not much to worry about in McCall, but if there was a gated or private area where I could build something, that would be my preference); B) Obviously, I would want a good deal on the land and an affordable builder so I could get good quality without getting raked over the coals;  C) I would want a quiet place where I could literally walk out the door and find a walking or biking trail, because I drove all the way up there and I want the great outdoors at my doorstep. Personally, I don’t feel the need to be “in town.” I can’t afford to be on the lake, so I’d rather find a quiet spot that is a short drive to anywhere I want to go in McCall. 

Once you identify your ideal place in McCall, see if it’s something you can afford or want to spend you money on. I said at the beginning there was a way to have a free vacation home in McCall. What I mean by that is I can show you how to get the home to pay for itself — which is like having a free place. I worked up a real example so you could see how this works:

Blackhawk on the River

My favorite place in McCall is Blackhawk on the River. It’s about 5-10 minutes outside of town, but right smack on the Payette River, and it has a wildlife preserve right through the middle of it. Owners even have access to privately owned trails and hunting areas. The lot prices in Blackhawk on the River are still very reasonable, and since we’ve helped other buyers interested in building a vacation home/vacation rental, I can share numbers to show you what you can do.  (Keep in mind we spoke to six builders before narrowing it down to two that were priced right and well-respected among builders in McCall this subdivision pulls higher rents then then many others in McCall.) The attached spreadsheet is for a four-bedroom cabin that is very nice, not over-the-top tricked out, but something you would walk into and say, “Wow, this is nice.” 

blackhawk spreadsheet
 Click on Image to Download

Look through the spreadsheet for more specifics, but here’s a quick breakdown for a brand new four-bedroom home in a private gated community in McCall that sells for $380k. Put 20% down and finance the rest. Based on rent numbers currently being obtained inside the community, you would only need to rent the home 8-10 days a month to break even on cash flow, yet still be making 5% cap rate on your investment. Not to mention you would have your own place to go play and party for 20 days a month in McCall. Sounds pretty good to me. Of course, you don’t have to rent your home — you could allow your friends and family to stay there so long as they pay the cleaning fee and chip in for utilities, etc.

Having a vacation rental is not as complicated as you might think. Some owners in Blackhawk use sites like VRBO and rent out the place 15+ days a month. In the example, I budgeted for a property manager to take care of everything: booking, dealing with customers, managing the cleaning service, etc. You just tell them when you plan to be there and they will try to rent it out the remaining days. 

There are a couple of agents in my brokerage who run the sales for Blackhawk on the River, so if you ever want a guided tour of the community just give me a shout and I’ll hook you up. If you have questions about the spreadsheet, just reply back to the email.  

Cheers to fun in McCall — hopefully I’ll see you up there!