DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in high schools & post-secondary institutions. I spoke at St. Marcellinus Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario in December, 2017 for their event.
With nearly a 70-year history, DECA has impacted the lives of more than ten million students, educators, school administrators and business professionals since it was founded in 1946. Their strong connection with our organization has resonated into a brand that people identify as a remarkable experience in the preparation of emerging leaders and entrepreneurs. DECA’s programs and activities have constantly evolved as we use the latest technology and apply cutting edge educational research. Our core focus has remained consistent and is captured in our mission.
I met the students on the DECA Board for St. Marcellinus Secondary School when I picked them up from school to bring them to Camp Enterprise. The Rotary Club of Mississauga-Meadowvale had paid for them to participate in this great training.
The Objective of Camp Enterprise is to expose, explore, and spur the student’s imagination on the whole subject of business and private enterprise. In providing students with a broad view of professional, business and management careers, the program presents business and management as challenging positions offering enormous personal satisfaction. While allowing the individual to exercise maximum creativity, the program at the same time emphasizes obligations to serve and contribute in the community.
Sometimes, the best thing that happens to an entrepreneur is meeting the right people at the right time, and that is how my entrepreneurial journey began.
It was 1984 and I had just moved from my parent’s home to a 4-bedroom townhouse with 3 friends of mine. It was a very fun but messy place and, as you can imagine, we had lots of parties and did some wild and crazy things.
Before I moved out, I had been thinking about ways to start my own business and create an income that was not from a job.
During those first few months after I moved away from home, I saw an ad in the business section of the Ottawa Citizen newspaper for a free seminar by Raymond Aaron about how to invest in rental real estate with no money down. Because I had been thinking about ways to create a business income, I was excited and attended the event.
I purchased a cassette and workbook course for about $600 and excitedly took it back to the townhouse, looking forward to going through the course as soon and as quickly as possible.
Over the next few days, I told a number of friends about the seminar and and all of them told me it was a scam and that I could not purchase rental properties with no money down, and were happy to share their list of reason why it could not be done and why I could not do it.
Thankfully, their opinions did not deter me. That is a VERY important lesson for an entrepreneur to learn. Most of your parents, siblings, and friends will likely tell you that becoming an entrepreneur is not for you and give you reasons why you particularly would not succeed. That is just how life is.
Almost all the people telling you that you cannot succeed as an entrepreneur, and that getting an education and good job is your best, and only route to take, have never been entrepreneurs themselves.
Your parents and grandparents, who love you a lot, and are important people in your lives, have usually saved $ since you were a baby for you to go to college or university so you can get a good job. That is how generations of parents and grandparents have thought and, until the last 15 years thereabouts, that has been fairly good advice.
The real estate investing course also came with a membership to a monthly educational and opportunity meeting. I attend the very first one after I purchased the course and that is where I met Shane Morand, the first of the right people at the right time that I was blessed to meet.
Shane had taken the course less than a year before and had purchased his own townhouse and 1 or 2 rental properties.
Shane introduced me to Marcello Bentivoglio who is the best overall person I have ever met in my life. When he decided to sell all his investment properties about 5 to 7 years ago, he owned 72 doors free and clear, meaning he had no mortgages on them so almost all his rental income was positive cash flow into his pocket. Marcello is also an amazing son, husband and father. He teaches martial arts, has a black belt, and does High Intensity one hour group workouts regularly throughout the week.
Shane and I hit it off immediately and I asked him about the recommended book reading list that Raymond provided with the course.
Think and Grow Rich was at the top of the list, followed by about 10 to 12 other books. I asked Shane which one he recommended that I read first and he instantly said Think and Grow Rich.
Napoleon Hill used to write stories for a business magazine and, in 1908, he was assigned to interview Andrew Carnegie, the richest man alive at the time. An interview that was supposed to last one evening ended up being 3 days. At the end of their time together, Andrew Carnegie challenged Hill to invest 25 years studying the most successful men of their time with the idea of putting together a course for the everyday person to use. Carnegie gave letters of introduction and arranged meetings for Hill and so, after 25 years of research the book Think and Grow was finally released.
Think and Grow Rich was first published in 1937 and is one of the top 10 bestselling non-fiction books of all time, with over 100 million copies sold. It has been translated into every language you can think of and is popular all over the world, which is why my website attracts visitors from more 150 to 162 countries every single month. They aren’t searching for Tom too tall Cunningham, they search for Napoleon Hill and think and Grow Rich things and my website page about it is often and usually on page 1 of their search.
This leads to another tip for you. Purchase your name or nickname as a website domain like right away, today even. Purchasing a website name usually costs less than $14 per year. If you want to be an entrepreneur, lock up your own name, nickname, or business name now, even if you don’t start building your site yet.
As we left the meeting, I promised to buy and read Think and Grow Rich and arranged to meet with Marcello and Shane the following Saturday for breakfast for what they called a mastermind meeting. A mastermind alliance is the 2nd most important of the 17 success principles that Napoleon Hill identified in his book Think and Grow Rich.
I ended up meeting with Shane and Marcello every Saturday for a few years, and we added other people to our weekly Saturday morning mastermind breakfasts. We talked about personal development books, courses and cassette sets we had read or listened to and what real estate deals we were looking at.
In the first 2 years after purchasing Raymond Aaron’s course, I purchased 4 townhouses for myself that I rented out. My strategy was to look for married couples who were getting divorced and who were selling their home to split up their assets.
The key principle in purchasing investment properties is to look for motivated vendors, people who have a lot of motivation to sell right away. In a divorce, the house is usually where they have equity that will come to them in the form of profit when they sell, so they can both go on their way with some money to start over again.
At this point, they are likely still living in the same house to save $, and they often get to the point of hating the other person, so both of them are very motivated to sell.
I would offer them a price that was about $15,000 below their $85,000 asking price, and offered to close the deal and have the $ in their hands within 2 weeks. My agent Marcello was very sharp and he insisted that he be present when my offers were presented, because he could explain to them the benefits of each of them receiving $7,500 less than they were asking, in return for having the money in their hands and them out of the house within 2 weeks. Not everyone said yes but 4 people did.
At age 24, with 4 rental properties that broke even cash flow wise every month, I was unable to finance any further properties for myself however, some of my friends who originally told me I could not do it asked me if I could find and put a deal together for them if they paid me. Also, since about 90% of the people at the monthly real estate investing education meeting had not purchased any rental property, and most had not even put in an offer, some of them offered to pay me to find and put deals together for them. I told anyone who asked I would do it for $1,000 because, in reality, all I was going to do was introduce them to Marcello, and he would give them the deals he had found for me, I also used the mortgage broker and real estate lawyer that Marcello recommended and he recommended the same people to my customers, so I knew they were in good hands.
All this time, I had a full-time job working for my dad as an accountant at the company he owned, so the $1,000 I earned from real estate investors was extra $ in my pocket on top of my job.
Another entrepreneurial venture that Shane and I did was to get a very low wholesale price for Napoleon Hill’s 1st book The Laws of Success. I had seen and purchased one from a small, local bookstore and, after reading it, I knew I wanted to spread the 15 success principles that Hill wrote about. Shane wanted to as well. We arranged a low wholesale price and ordered 100 books. We took those books to the sales managers at car dealerships, real estate brokers, insurance companies and anywhere else we could find that had large sales teams and a sales manager.
We would give the sales manager a sales presentation about the book, mentioning Think and Grow Rich, which was very well-known, or so we thought. After the presentation, we left the book with them with the agreement that we would be back in a week for either their $50 to buy the book or to pick up the book.
Sadly, Shane and I learned that only about 5% of people are into personal development, and that sales managers are in that 5%. Most of them had not even touched or opened the book since we left it there. It took a lot of work but we did sell the 100 we had purchased and earned a $25 profit on each one, all within 2 or 3 weeks.
I moved from Ottawa to Mississauga when I was 30 years old, around 1993, and have not purchased any more real estate since those 4 townhouses.
Once in Mississauga, I worked for 2 companies that sold tickets to personal development seminars featuring the top business people, speakers, and authors. I was very familiar with many of them as I had read their books or listened to their audio cassette programs.
I almost always got to meet the speakers, either for dinner the night before, or in a conference room with the speaker before the event started. I even got to introduce one of them, who happens to be one of the most well-known, most quoted and most loved speakers of all-time, Jim Rohn. I HIGHLY recommend that you watch at least one of his videos on YouTube, especially if you really want to be an entrepreneur.
In 2010, Shane contacted me and asked to take me for lunch because he had some exciting news. When we met he told me that he was co-founding a company that would sell healthy coffee in a direct sales business. The coffee came in individual cup packages, tasted really good and had what people in China call The King of Herbs, ganoderma, infused into the coffee tastelessly so it did not affect the great taste. In China, they think so highly of ganoderma that everyone who is in hospital there are given it as part of their daily routine. There is a ton of validated scientific research into the many possible health benefits of ganoderma.
Not only had Shane co-founded Organo Gold, he had arranged a partnership with the Napoleon Hill Foundation and had received their permission to print an Organo Gold special, classic, leather-bound edition of Think and Grow Rich, with Shane’s introduction at the front of the book.
When I saw his name in the front of an actual Napoleon Hill Foundation approved edition of Think and Grow Rich I was as excited and happy for him as if it were my name there.
Shane told me that the Foundation offered a Certified Instructor course and he had told their Education Director to contact me about it because I was the biggest fan of Think and Grow Rich that he knew.
Today, Shane earns over $1 million US dollars every month from Organo Gold, and is one of the 5 highest earners in the direct sales industry and I am the world’s most well-known Napoleon Hill Foundation Certified Instructor in the world, with income from 5 revenue streams.