As a Real Estate Investor, First Focus on the Real Estate Between Your Ears

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 02 June 2021 15:44

What makes someone like Rafael Cortez, an organizational psychologist and creator of CEO Pulse, a company that focuses on real estate entrepreneurship through coaching, consulting, lending, and more, as successful as he’s been? He will be the first to tell you that it wasn’t his upbringing, nor did he follow the adage that you have to have money to make money. Instead, he believes that success comes from mindset – the real estate between your ears.

Components of Success

According to Rafael, what is in your mind matters more than just about any other aspect of real estate, including information. Why? Because information doesn’t get you anywhere if your mindset doesn’t allow you to take action.

Many successful real estate investors tell you that success comes from tenacity, grit, and commitment. Rafael agrees but says that is not where it starts. It all starts with awareness. He sees success like this:

  1. Gaining awareness and remaining curious
  2. Build an alternative reality
  3. Believe in self
  4. Have a catalyst to provide a hyperfocus
  5. Be willing to sacrifice
  6. Take the first steps even if you don’t know how to get started
  7. Meet others along the path who have a better vision
  8. Take bits and pieces of those better visions and pivot your own dream
  9. Find success

Let’s look at each of these steps in turn.


Many people would say that the best traits for success are things like tenacity, grit, and commitment. Although these are super traits to have, the number one success trait is awareness. If you don’t know about something, then you won’t know to learn about it. You can’t know what you don’t know.

For Rafael, this was his biggest challenge. He had humble beginnings living in a trailer with a single mom. He said he didn’t know he was poor and had a lot of love and attention. However, he had a fixed mindset about money. He assumed that if you could make $30K a year, you’d be set. He didn’t undertand the potential he had to make money, nor did he understand how much money could be made. This has been his biggest challenge.

Luckily, he had a couple of indirect mentors along the way who showed him there was more to making money than working to fulfill someone else’s dream. When he was a fireman, his captain took him under his wing and talked with him about things he had never experienced. One conversation was around passive income. The idea that money could just come in astounded him. Later, when he worked construction, he had a boss that gave him some blueprints to build out some huge wooden doors. Despite not knowing how to read blueprints, Rafael worked hard and figured it out. He made $9/hour over the course of several months, in the ending making about $4K on the project. He was happy with his wages until he learned that his boss, who did nothing more than draw the design on CAD, sold those doors for $80K.

A Catalyst to Provide Hyperfocus

This catalyst can come one of two ways:

  1. Something produces a lot of guilt and fear, pushing you into extreme survival mode
  2. You craft a vision

Rafael recommends the second way but lived through the first. He had quit his job as a fireman, was living with his girlfriend and her child, and had a baby on the way. He was working hard and trying to create a business on the side. Then, one day, he looked out the window to see his car being repossessed. He was in a “have-to” moment. He had to do something, which ignited him to the next step – building a new reality.

Build an Alternate Reality

This is the space in your mind where you build the reality you want to see in real life. If you don’t have a fear/guilt catalyst, you can craft a vision. Think about where you want to be in five years and then reverse engineer it.

Don’t be like most people who spend more time planning their vacation than they do their financial future.

Believe in Self

It is also important to see yourself in this reality and believe that you can get there. Without a doubt, you will run into naysayers along the way. There will be negativity thrown at you. You’ll have a choice to listen to those who say you cannot succeed or not.

Rafael suggests seeing naysayers as those who do not believe in themselves so they can’t believe in you. When they say “you can’t,” there is really something going on with them. It isn’t personal.

With the right mindset, you can transform yourself. You can rewire your belief system. You can gain equity in yourself.

Be Willing to Sacrifice

It isn’t until this stage that grit, determination, commitment, and hard work really come in. You have to remember that sacrifice is something short-term so that you can get long-term gain.

Are you willing, like Rafael, to work your day job from 3 AM to noon and then spend another eight hours building your dream?

Are you willing to outwork everyone?

Are you willing to do what you will say you will do despite the odds?

If you will stick with the process, you will find long-term success.

Take First Steps

Another thing that hinders people from becoming successful in real estate investing is feeling that they don’t know the right first step. Instead of worrying about that, just get started. Take those first two or three steps toward your dream. The act of beginning provides the momentum to move you closer to the alternative reality you created.

Meet Others Along the Way and Pivot

When you take the first steps, even blind steps, you’ll soon run into other people with a similar dream. Watch them and learn from them.

You may discover that they have a better vision. Take those elements that make their vision better and use them to pivot your dream.

Always surround yourself with like-minded people because you are who you hang around with. These like-minded people become your network. And as you grow your network, you grow your net worth.

Find Success

Success looks different for everyone, so be sure you define what it means to you. Rafael has to components to his definition of success:

  1. Owning his own options – he can choose what he wants to do and when he wants to do it because he owns his options
  2. Empower others – Empowerment is not just inspiration, which vanishes away. Instead, when you empower someone, you help them become successful and the ripples from that go on and on

Obviously, real estate knowledge is essential for finding real estate investing success – otherwise, Rafael wouldn’t run a coaching business. However, he understands that 80% of success is mindset. Don’t settle for your comfort zone – change your mindset and push for success.

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John Trautman

John Trautman has spent his entire adult life in real estate. Purchasing his first property at 23, he learned the process of flipping and real estate holding from the ground up. Real estate continue to be his passion while he spent eight years as an account executive and later a vice President for Washington Mutual in the mortgage division. Holding the position of President’s Council and several years of President’s Club, he learned the lending business from the mortgage office perspective and lender perspective. Throughout his life he has also been a small business owner, commercial real estate holder, property designer, and house flipper.

During the downturn, John followed the deal to Detroit, Michigan, where he invested in single family rentals and multi-family dwellings. Once his returns were realized, he moved quickly to Arizona to invest in another distressed market.

His passion for making a deal and real estate has lead him to create a hands-on real estate investment mentoring club called Real Estate Knowledge Institute

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