Growing Through The Discomfort Towards A Year Of Quality With Sam Wilson

RRE Sam Wilson | Growing Through Discomfort
2021 has been filled with discomfort. But did you know that even in discomfort, you can grow? You can come out stronger than ever and prep for the next year. Listen to self-storage investor and the host of the How to Scale Commercial Real Estate podcast, Sam Wilson, as he shares how his 2021 has been 99.9% discomfort. Join your host Shannon Robnett as he talks to Sam about how he found growth in these uncomfortable times. Learn why it's okay to rewrite your goals if you don't meet them and how to bring value to your life. Prep for the next year and make it all about quality. Deal with your discomforts today!

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Growing Through The Discomfort Towards A Year Of Quality With Sam Wilson

You're in for a treat in this episode. I have the opportunity to have a friend of mine on the show that I’ve got to spend some time with earlier in 2021, and got to know him well. I want to introduce him to you, Sam Wilson. Sam, how are you?

I'm great, Shannon. How about you?

I’m doing all right. Where are you in the world?

I'm based out of Memphis, Tennessee.

You have an interesting story because there are a lot of things in your life now that you have never intended to be involved with. Am I right?

You're 100% right. In fact, I would say everything in my life that is good is entirely coincidental. My wife and I laugh about that. I kid you not, my kids, my dog, my wife, my house, even my vehicles just showed up. Everything is great and it's all good. I love it all but I didn't go looking for any of this. Even I say to my wife that I didn't necessarily want to get married until a pretty smart girl came along. I'm like, “If I don't take her, she's going to run away. I better keep her.”

You've now confirmed to all of my audience members that you're not stupid. A pretty smart girl showed up, you kept her. The dog showed up, you kept him. The kids show up.

So far we're keeping them.
You must become uncomfortable in everything you undertake. That is where you grow.
How does a guy get that lucky?

Trial and error, and a lot of hard knocks. I'll tell you that. I've said this over and over. I can write a book on how to fail. Those are the successes that come along with beating your head into a wall way too many times.

I was having this conversation with another person. We've been conditioned as a society not to have failures. We've all viewed failures as bad things. I'm going to try and coin this phrase that I do have a dollar for every time I failed. It's through failure that I learned how to succeed, and that's where I've made the money.

The phrase, “There's no failure, there's only feedback,” if you couple that with, "None of us gets out of here alive," you sure as heck better be doing something that causes you to fail along the way. If you're not gambling or risking in some regard and not getting feedback going, “That didn't work,” you're probably playing it way too safe.

That's true because we don't want to get close enough to the line that hurts. We want to make sure that we're right down the middle. It doesn't cause us any ripples and everything goes smooth, but that's never where the growth happens. That's never where you're able to see that. Why is it that growth only happens when you're uncomfortable?

That's a hilarious comment that you put there, “Uncomfortable.” I have a morning routine. It's got yearly goals that have changed dramatically in 2021, which we probably won't have time for on this show. Part of that is every year, I label the goal for that year, or the theme of what that year would be. In 2021, I said, “I must become uncomfortable in everything I undertake.”

You nailed that.

I have only known discomfort in 2021 but I've seen amazing things come out of it, so I can't complain.
RRE Sam Wilson | Growing Through Discomfort
Growing Through Discomfort: After a year of discomfort and growth, you want quality. Everything you do should not just be good, but high quality. It needs to be authentic and well thought out.
Growing Through Discomfort: After a year of discomfort and growth, you want quality. Everything you do should not just be good, but high quality. It needs to be authentic and well thought out.
Are you getting comfortable with being uncomfortable? I know that sounds cliché, but is there a point where you recognize that the best things that happened to you growth-wise, personal or business, come in that space? Does it make it any easier to stay there and get your head caved in?

Yes, it does.

Where's the part where you can sit in the sun and eat chocolate, and you get the same results? That's the one I want to sign up for.

It's not on this side of the river. It's not there.

I'm sure that during the year of discomfort, you've learned that you are incredibly special. There's only one like you. Nobody else can do what you're doing, and all of these things are about your awesomeness. Right?

No, sir. I appreciate the leading question. I don't know how you want this answered or what the question is but there's nothing special about me. Anybody can do this. You just have to get off your derriere and get it done.

You've put yourself in uncomfortable places. I know your story a little bit more. You had no intention of doing all the things that you're doing, yet you're excelling at it.

Things are going great. I'm running a daily real estate podcast, which 365 days ago, I had that itch in the back of my mind that said, “Who wants to talk to Sam Wilson? Who wants to get on a podcast with me?” We're not 30 days away from having three episodes, 365 go live. I had to get outside of my comfort zone and ask. The answer is always no until you ask. What do you get to lose? What's the pretty girl going to say? No. It was no before you opened your mouth and it was no after she walked away. You've lost absolutely nothing.
The answer's always "no" until you ask.
It's the same thing on running a podcast. We've done some great deals and put ourselves out there going, “Yes.” That was the thought. People often wonder, “What happens if I fail?” You need to focus on, “What happens if I succeed?” Internalize that and go, “What happens if I succeed? That would be great, won’t it?”

You can weigh out the risks of not taking the chance. It's not like we're talking about the chances of winning the lottery. We're talking about chances of you doing what you've plotted to do, that you're educated to do, that in your school of thought and training, you're able to do. Why wouldn't you? What is it that you're finding that’s making this uncomfortable season of your life work for you?

It’s internal growth or growth as a person. I realized that now when I had an opportunity to shift my way. It was something that I was working on a few years ago. A letter of intent that we'd submitted, there’s no interest. It dissipated and fell apart. I got a call one day like, “We're interested in selling this.” I knew I was a different person reading that LOI. One, I can put that together. Two, there's an internal sense of confidence in knowing what I'm doing. That's growth and having that internal confidence on the growth side. That's probably the answer to it, just growth in general.

There's only one way to get it and we both know that. With that, on a scale of 1 to 10, how uncomfortable were you in 2021?


How much have you grown in 2021?

It’s incredible amounts, both as a business person, as an individual, and on our home front. We can share the 30-second version of the story. We had three foster kids show up on February 1st. It literally was a 30-minute family. Five, three and eight months from abuse and trauma backgrounds. I didn't sleep for seven months. I kid you not. I had no more than two hours at a time sleep from February until late August, which is when we finally got everybody in a rhythm. It's like, “Wow.” That's uncomfortable. At points, we were on the knife's edge of sanity and insanity. You sleep as a biological necessity and when you run months at a time, you go, “Crap. Things aren't good.”

That's why they use it to interrogate people. Sleep deprivation is an effective tool. That’s why your wife wakes you up at 3:00 in the morning and wants to talk about it.
RRE Sam Wilson | Growing Through Discomfort
Growing Through Discomfort: Everyone has goals for the year, and sometimes you may not reach that goal. Maybe you didn't reach it because you had limited time and focus. So just rewrite your goal and accept it for what it is.
Growing Through Discomfort: Everyone has goals for the year, and sometimes you may not reach that goal. Maybe you didn't reach it because you had limited time and focus. So just rewrite your goal and accept it for what it is.
Thankfully not. Coupling that with running a business, we've taken down more than $30 million to $35 million in deals in 2021. I’m still humping it out on the work side. That's very uncomfortable. I’m still putting on a daily podcast, which for those that don't know, it's a heck of a lot of work. I don't know how often yours airs, Shannon, but it's work that you have all done.

You said you write down goals every year. When you look at what your next year is looking like, are you looking to be at a 9.9 on the uncountable scale for 2022?

Absolutely, not.

You don’t want that much growth.

You got to pick your discomforts. There's a point between self-mutilation and growth. You got to pick the areas where you say, “This is a growth,” and there's also once you grow into that stage, whatever it is. I already got my theme for 2022. I'll pull back the curtain on. It's called the year of quality. I want everything that I do to be not just good but quality. It needs to be authentic, well thought out, planned and purposeful. Those are also areas of growth coming off of a year of discomfort. Going into a year of quality is what I'm aiming for.

When you're looking at that quality, you can appreciate that more because you've looked at some of the mistakes. There have been mistakes in 2021, but you're looking at that being able to go, "I saw how not to do that. Now I know what quality of time looks like." You know what the quality of sleep is. You know what that looks like, and now you can be at that place where you can decide because you've been able to do what you've done.

Doing $35 million worth of deals is big. When we talked in January when you were in Boise, you were looking at a parking lot. You were looking at maybe buying this piece of property. You were going to fence it and make some RV surface parking. It was all you were going to do. That was all you had on your horizon. From there, to do $35 million is enormous. Now, you're going to take that up again and bring that stabilized thought process into it.

It's a stabilized thought process. It's no longer running around like what you say, "You’re running 100-miles an hour with your house on fire.” That's fun for a season as well but it's also like, “We're going to be very intentional and methodical about what we do and what we undertake, and put the blinders on.”

I also said, “If I wasn't doing that, I'd probably be on the hunt for a gas can and the lighter.” There's a lot of truth in that but you're right. To have that quality and that balance in deal flow, family life, sleep, and all of those things, you wouldn't know that unless you had the year you had. There's that yin and yang of it all that you don't know what you have until you don't have it. You don't know what you want until you haven't or have had too much of the other thing. Now that you're looking at that, did you overestimate what you could get done in a year or did you underestimate what you could get done in a year?
Stop thinking about what happens if you fail. What you need to focus on is what happens if you succeed
I probably overestimate it. That's a great question. I'm not sure I know the answer to it. At the end of the year, I have overestimated because I've had to rewrite my goals multiple times. Usually, I have a goal for the year. There's an income goal, X goal, and all these different goals. They go all across from all the different roles. I based it on a book called Your Best Year Yet. It's got all these roles and your goal for each role in your life. I've had to rewrite that probably five times as you get 80% of the way through the year. You go, “I'm not going to hit my income goal.” With the current set of circumstances that I'm with, and my time and focus are limited, it's not going to happen. Rewrite it and accept it for what it is.

I had a gal on my show, Rachel Richards, who wrote a book called Money Honey. She always set more goals than she could achieve. She always came to the end of the year and said, “If I have 75 goals and I put my goals out there so that I could get to them and I know that, maybe I'm not going to put 75 goals on the paper, I'm going to put 50. If I put 150 and know that I'm not even going to get close to all of them, I'm going to get 75 which is more than if I just wrote something I would achieve.” There are both sides.

Then you're me and I got to remember what I wrote down. I got to keep revisiting it because I forget. It also goes to the thought process that says, “You overestimate what you'll get done in a year but you underestimate what you do in ten.” Looking at the foundation that you've built over a few months since we checked in last, and everything that you've done, do you think your ten-year goal is too big or too small?

It’s probably too small.

I love hearing that from a guy like you. When you and I spent the day together, there was a lot that we have in common like to hear that you can put that foundation and have that year of biblical tribulation. There was everything but locust in my life, I don't know how yours went, but we're coming to the end of it. We now go to that quality but you can put that quality in. You've got that ability to go, “I'm going to blow this up. I am going to get way farther than I thought because of everything I had in year one.”

It's the foundation. That's it. It is establishing a firm foundation upon which to build upon. You should know something about building foundations.

I know a few things but I love your compression of the timeline. You've got the dog, the kids and the truck all in 2021.

Not the dog. The kids and the truck are in 2021.
RRE Sam Wilson | Growing Through Discomfort
Growing Through Discomfort: Be hyper-focused on the things that bring meaning and value to your life and the people around you. Find out what that means, and from that will stem quality.
Growing Through Discomfort: Be hyper-focused on the things that bring meaning and value to your life and the people around you. Find out what that means, and from that will stem quality.
You're one thing short of a country music song.

I know. I do have an RV. Maybe we could throw that in there for you. That came to me on accident too.

If you're going to boil this down and you're going to hone in on quality, what is it that's going to give you that quality over the other options that you have? Why did you pick quality as what you want for 2022?

The first 40 years have been ready, fire, aim. I've done a lot of different stuff. I've had my hands involved but I've been successful in them. I've had a good time. I've learned an incredible amount. I was looking into buying a business here. I went down to Texas with a younger associate. She was going to be the operator. I'm like, “You're thirteen years junior than me.” She is very capable but hasn't had the life experience, which is fine.

With that said, I realized I've done many things. At this point, I want to hyper-focus on the things that bring meaning and value to my life and other people around me. Whatever that looks like to me or whatever it looks like to you as the audience, you have to find out what that means, what its meaning and value, and from those will stand quality. If you live into that and allow yourself to focus on those things and say, “This is what quality or this is what meaning and value is to me,” and internalize it and allow yourself the freedom to live from that, then your story is going to look different than mine.

You don't necessarily have to be a multifamily syndicator. You can do whatever you want, but you have to make sure that that's the place from which you are living. Personally, I have chased the almighty dollar one too many times. I’ve done things where it's like, “That's a great opportunity to go. We can go turn a quick profit on that,” and I hate what we're doing. You slog it out and you're like, “We made money but that sucked.” Life is too short for that.

We've all done that. How does that apply to your business? Personal growth has to happen, and the foundation has to happen. You have to internalize that growth. You have to get that to happen. After that happens, how is that going to manifest straight up in your business?

The very practical things are selecting and retaining the few key operating partners I'm working with. It's like, “Here are my operating partners. I know how they work. I know what they do. I know what they like to buy.” Personally, I want to stay on the capital side. I think it's fun and I enjoy it. Do I want to be an operator? Maybe someday but if I don't, it's not killing me. Also, compressing maybe what I have previously put as a net worth goal and saying, “Maybe we work on what a cashflow goal is.” You’re like, “At this point, that's basically covered.” I want more than that on a cashflow basis, though. That's part of quality too but also going, “If I can establish within these realms of investing a few different things that will produce a cashflow for me to give me my time back sooner, then maybe I’ll focus more on that.” Those are some practical ways.

I don't know if you've read Tony Robbins’s book MONEY Master The Game. He does a great cashflow scenario there because he talks about people wanting to retire, what they think it takes to retire, and what it takes to replicate your life if the cashflow is there every month. Most syndicators goal is to get to that cashflow piece first then go for the net worth. The reality is if you got the cashflow and the time, your net worth goes off the charts.
It's all about foundation. Establish a firm foundation upon which you can build upon
If you can triple that or you get the trifecta there, where you have money, time and health, the third leg of that stool is health. That's something else that I take very seriously. If you can put those three together, then you have achieved quality, at least in my opinion.

That's great to hear, and it was nice to hear you admit that chasing the dollar has been something we've done because I like parked cars. You hope you don't catch it. At the end of the day, when you've done that seen what that gets you, it makes what you have all that more meaningful. You've got the reality that, “I've got the best. I may not have $10 million in the bank but I have a quality of life that can't be beaten. I have my health and I have the other things that go with it.” Not to bring your story up again for you to brag, but you've got the dog, the truck, the kids and the wife. If you want to know more about where Sam is at and how he got the dog, the truck, the wife and the kids, you can follow Sam, where?

The best thing to do is to follow me on the podcast, How to Scale Commercial Real Estate. That's one way. The second way is to go to

When you're looking at how to bring other people along that journey, what's the first piece of advice you would give them having been through the fire of 2020 and 2021, and where you're going with that? What would be the first piece of advice you would give them if they wanted to get involved with syndicated real estate?

Not more on the mindset side of it but the actual or practical. If they want to get involved in syndications, there are three things. The first and foremost of those three is who the team is. Find a team that you like or find multiple teams that you like. Spend time getting to know your teams, go to conferences, phone calls, other investors, and get to know the team. The second thing that you want to focus on is the market that the team works in, or the markets that the team works in. If they are a great team and crappy markets, it's not going to do any good. If they are a great team and great markets, then the third thing we're going to focus on that is the deal.

Oftentimes, people get that in reverse like, “This is a great deal,” but if they're a crappy operator, they're going to lose your money. Start with the foundation. Start with the team. Get your team figured out, “That's my team.” Now, we go out and find the markets that the team works in. You say, “I like this market you're working on but not that other one.” Do your market research. The third thing is to then start looking for the deals they send you. When they send them to you, find out if the projections and everything lines up and makes sense. I even asked for the underwriting file. That's where I'd start.

That's important because if you're not doing that, then you're not learning. If you're thinking every deal works, I'll be honest, there's never been a piece of real estate I haven't fallen in love with but it doesn't mean I went home with it. I left some of them with the seller. Sam, I want to thank you for showing up here and bringing that authentic truth that a lot of people don't give us in our lives. You've been able to be vulnerable and talk about the challenges you've had, and the way that that's helped you to grow. Not everybody wants to talk about that. I appreciate that and you.

I want to thank you for being our audience and tuning in to the show. Don't forget to like, share and subscribe to the Real Estate Run Down on Spotify, iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts to get automatic updates. You'll also find us on Instagram and YouTube. I would love it if you'd leave us a review. I'd love to hear your feedback and I will answer it personally. Once again, thanks for tuning in to the Real Estate Run Down. We'll talk to you next time.

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About Sam Wilson

RRE Sam Wilson | Growing Through Discomfort
Sam is an active investor in self storage, parking, retail, multi-family apartments, RV parks and single family homes. He hosts the “How to Scale Commercial Real Estate Podcast”, where he interviews real estate experts to give listeners the tips, tools, and tricks to scale their investment portfolio.

Sam holds his bachelor’s degree in business finance from the University of Memphis and holds his real estate license in Tennessee. In addition to his years of real estate experience, he also has a diverse background in business ownership, building construction, and management.