If our homes are our biggest investment; we should buy/sell them like investments!

All these financial and real estate guru’s say, “Your home is the biggest investment you’ll ever make.” But 99% of the timing of people’s buying and selling their “biggest investment” is based on when it’s convenient for them based on their personal situation. “I just got married, I should buy a home now.” “I just got a job somewhere else, I should sell this home and buy a new home now.” “I am about to have another kid and need more space, I will buy a home now.”

This can be financially devastating in today’s volatile housing world where pricing can take wild swings and tumbles and doesn’t just consistently slowly appreciate like we’d all prefer. In many US markets if you bought a $300,000 home in 2007 because you just got married, then you had to move in 2009 for a new job, that home could have been worth $200,000 and bankrupted you to leave or cost you a dream job to stay stuck in it.

I’ve decided that market timing should be taken into consideration and not just personal life convenience when buying or selling homes from now on, and I encourage you to do the same. No shame in renting and waiting to buy if the market is overheated and heavily favors sellers. No shame in selling in that situation either even if it’s not maximum convenient timing for your personal life. Selling that house at $300,000 for a profit in 2007 even if you didn’t have a pressing need to would have been pretty smart. Would you put up with a little personal inconvenience and a couple weekends of hard work moving if someone paid you $100,000? Of course your would! Would you “throw away” $30,000 renting for a couple years if someone paid you $100,000 to do so? You bet you would! But yet I see people all the time choosing not to sell when it’s an obvious seller’s market or rushing to buy an obviously overpriced house in the same situation because they think it’s ALWAYS smarter to buy than rent.

If you think your home is your biggest investment, TREAT IT LIKE ONE. You’d never invest 6-figures in a stock or mutual fund based on when you are having a baby; no you’d try to predict where its value is going based on market factors, not personal-life factors.

I hope these words will help one of you that’s pondering a “should I buy” or “should I sell” decision.

For me to buy a primary residence for my family, I need 4 things, ALL FOUR of them must be true. 3 for 4 is unacceptable.

1) I have at least a 15-20% down payment. This way I could be able to sell it in an emergency if I really needed to and never be stuck in it. Remember real estate can go up or down 10% in a year or two in many markets easily, and selling is going to cost you 6% in fees… so 15% is a bare minimum to make sure you never get imprisoned in a house against your will. Things can happen, life will change, and you always want enough equity to be able to raise anchor when you need to.

2) I don’t have to take out an absurdly high interest rate loan for the remainder. I’m sorry but no “investment” is a good investment if you have to pay 8, 9, 10, 11 % annual interest on it. If I can’t get a fixed rate mortgage between 2-6%… I’m not buying, or I’ll buy cash once I’ve saved enough for a 100% down payment.

3) I am 90+% confident I will be living in that location for at least 5 years and my family will be happy living in that house for 5+ years. This is a big deal for me because I’m an entrepreneur and rarely do something for more than 5 years… this means renting is probably best for me. Why 5 years? Because if you sell within 5 years of buying, you’re almost guaranteed to lose money. Remember selling costs you 6%, and almost ALL your mortgage payment the first 5 years is going to interest not equity, so you accrue almost no equity during those 5 years and will take a 6% hit when you sell… that means you only break even if the value of the home has risen 6%. If it’s stayed the same… you lose money. If it’s lost value… you lose a LOT of money. Better to rent for 1-5 years and guarantee you don’t take a big loss if you’re not sure you’re going to live there long term.

4) The market timing isn’t ridiculous favoring sellers, as in not at multi-year high prices when jobs/wages haven’t increased in the area nearly enough to justify the skyrocketing appraisals. Ask yourself, “Over the last few years, have home prices hear risen way faster than the actual economy has?” If so, wait and rent. However, if the economy, jobs and pay in the area is increasing steadily and homes haven’t gone up much yet, it could be a great time to buy. This fourth point is the one most people neglect. They buy their home emotionally based on when they WANT to. Hopefully you’ll want a home when it’s a good time to buy a home, but a disciplined investor knows not to buy when the market is signaling it’s stupid to. Listen to the market. Rent and be patient if it’s a stupid time to buy, keep saving money, then buy like crazy when it finally is a great time to buy, and you’ll come out WAY AHEAD.

If I’m not 4 for 4 on all of these things… I’m NOT BUYING. I’ve learned this lesson already and will not repeat past mistakes. The traditional advice of, “It’s always smarter to buy than rent.” is a BIG FAT LIE. LIE LIE LIE.

All the info above pertains to primary residence buying. Buying an investment property is a little bit easier decision… all I need to know is:

1) Will I be able to get a good renter here? How much will I get in rent, and how much positive cash flow will that generate?

2) Is it a good time to buy in this market where I think the future price will be higher than today’s?

If you can get good cash flow and feel like you’re getting a good purchase price that will go up, you may have a winning rental property.

So for me, until I’m ready to commit long-term to living somewhere… I’ll probably choose to rent and buy rental properties not personal properties. When I’m 4 for 4 on the primary residence factors above, I’ll buy a family home as well.

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Posted in Finance, Success

I e-mail my toddlers and so should you.

Two things I do for each of my kids as soon as they’re born and we’ve picked their name:

1) I buy their .com domain if it’s available and put it on auto-renew. If it’s not available I get the most logical variation.

2) I get them an e-mail account that’s their name @gmail.com (or the closest available, logical variant).

Domain was a pretty obvious one for me. I highly value owning clintfiore.com and would feel weird if some stranger owned/controlled it, especially as someone who is aspiring to do big things in business and maybe even politics. I want to go ahead and secure the domains for my kids so they can do whatever they want with them when they’re ready.

But why the e-mail address? Well, it’s so I can e-mail them.

I like the idea of preserving memories of their childhood, and privately passing along wisdom and advice to them. I tried to think of the best and most convenient way to do this, and I saw problems with every other idea I had; Physical letters, notes, and scrapbooks are awesome and I think they’re very special, but I just very rarely write or create them. I don’t have paper/pens on me 24/7 as inspirations strikes, and they take time and require a certain formality. So bottom line I wouldn’t do nearly as many as I could via e-mail. Also, I trust I won’t lose e-mail and think it’s a safe bet Google and Gmail will be around in 10 years and I’ll never have to worry about storing them, organizing them, them being destroyed etc… I still may write letters to my kids occasionally, but it’s not a reliable g0-to for me for consistent little notes to them.

Social Media seems to be most people’s choice for preserving their kids’ memories. Social media is more for sharing your life with the world, not for sharing intimate things with your children. Additionally: 1) I don’t want to setup social media accounts for my kids when they’re babies. 2) I don’t 100% trust that Facebook will be the big thing it is now in 10 years, nor do I trust Facebook with all my personal/intimate stuff. 3) I want these notes/pics/memories to be just between parents and children, nobody else should see them, like them, or comment on them.

I’m at a computer all the time for work, and when I’m not I have a smart phone handy. I can quickly compose a message in seconds to one or all of my kids. Since it’s electronic I can attach pictures, documents, links, etc… Every message is stored automatically in my sent items, and in their inboxes. I log into my kids’ e-mail accounts 1-2 times per year just to make sure they stay active.

This makes it easy to share quick notes from my phone like this one from this morning that took literally 30 seconds or so, but I know will be very special to my daughter one day when she’s grown:

To: Sophia     Subject: My Morning Girl
You’re always the first kiddo up in the morning and you come downstairs by yourself and turn on a cartoon. I love seeing you and giving you a big huge before everyone else gets up. I’m downstairs drinking coffee and reading when you come down like a ray of sunshine. Look how cute you looked today with your headband. Love you morning girl!!!

 

My plan is by these little bitty, easy, 30 second commitments, regularly, over a decade or more of their childhood. They’ll end up with a huge love story from their father full of memories, anecdotes, advice, etc… that they will be able to cherish for life and even share with their kids. And as someone who has come close to dying before, I never want to put off doing something for tomorrow and say, “yeah I’ll write them some book or make a scrapbook once I get older and get time to do so”. No, this is too important and that strategy is too risky. Do little things now that will make a big difference later.

I haven’t decided when I’ll give them their e-mail addresses. Probably when they’re 13 or maybe 16.

 

What age do you think I should give them their accounts and passwords? Comment Below.

See any major problems with this plan? Comment Below.

Thanks for reading. Share this post if it inspired you to do the same for your kiddos.

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Posted in Parenting, Success

What is MeWe?

MeWe_Logo-Full (1)

I’ve been privileged to be working behind the scenes the last few months with the team bringing MeWe to the world.

Remember back when Myspace was cool and fun, a victory for free speech and expression of oneself, before it got taken over by obnoxious ads and was eventually killed by Facebook? Remember when Facebook used to be cool and have an exclusive feel to it as you connected with your classmates and family members, before it became a giant personal data vacuum and noisy time-wasting news-center and sold us out to advertisers?

It’s again time for something new. It’s time for a Revolution.

MeWe is the World’s Private Communication Network. You get all the fun, perks, and benefits of Social Media + Cloud Storage + Instant Communication apps, all on one integrated platform that works across desktop and mobile devices. SO think Facebook + Dropbox + Voxer/WhatsApp, all integrated, with Privacy built in. That’s where we’re headed with it.

MeWe was founded by a leading Privacy Advocate and has an industry-leading Privacy Bill of Rights and makes HUGE commitments to you as the user, like: You own your content, your data, your contact list, etc… it’s explicitly YOUR property. You control who can access your content, and what, if anything, you show to others in public searches. You have the right to easily download your content and delete your account at any time. There’s no creepy targeted ads, no cookies, no tracking, no spyware, no facial recognition, and no algorithms controlling your newsfeed. You are in complete control of your content and your experience on the platform. PS- All of this is also free of charge.

MeWe makes its revenues not by collecting and selling user data to advertisers (like Google, Facebook, et al…) Instead, they sell additional cloud storage space on top of the 8GB that’s free, offer you the ability to print photos (currently through Walgreens), and will have an App Store and Enterprise product in 2015. In other words, they have a plan to make money without YOU and YOUR DATA being the product they sell. MeWe believes its users should be the customer, not the product.

MeWe is yours to use your way, for your unique life. It works well for large groups as well as intimate relationships. The goal is to simplify your life, put you in control of your privacy, and provide a safe place where you can be your true self again with the audiences you choose. You can even link your existing Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts so you can push content onto those platforms when appropriate without leaving the MeWe environment; this makes transition extremely easy.

Check it out today and help spread the word.

Connect with me on MeWe here: mewe.com/i/clintfiore

Read Our latest Press Release 

Follow MeWe on Twitter: @MeWe and our CEO is @markweinstein

Intro / Teaser Video is below

 

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Posted in Announcements, Success

How to Get Wealthy and Rich While Still Young

Disclaimer 1) First off, I’m not yet what I consider to be wealthy or rich yet (will define them both in a second), so take this post for what it is, a theory/philosophy from someone who has not yet achieved what he is writing about. However, I’ve not come to this philosophy lightly as it has taken me over 13 years of study, experimentation, training, and practical application in the business world to arrive at this viewpoint.

Disclaimer 2) I’m not a financial advisor, nor am I liable for anything you do with the ideas I present in this blog.

I’m a voracious reader of books on building wealth, personal finance, success, business, etc… and have read dozens of authors that speak authoritatively from experience on all these topics. What I’ve discovered is that almost anyone can get to the point where they can retire comfortably if they start planning for it young, live below their means, employ the power of compound interest over decades of time, follow the tried-and-true advice and principals espoused by wonderful people like Dave Ramsey, and read books like “The Millionaire Next Door.” These teachers will show you how to practically and easily retire a millionaire, even if you’re not a high income earner. I recommend starting here if you have no plan at all yet, don’t know how to budget, are deeply in debt, or feel like you’re out of control with money. If that’s you, stop reading now and go pick up “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey and consider attending a local Financial Peace University class.

My problem is, I want more than just to retire with a lot of money. I want to enjoy the lifestyle I want, the freedom I want, and make an impact on the world (in ways that require a lot of money) before I’m of retirement age. I want to be able to take my kids all over the world, teach them to fly airplanes (OUR planes), start many world-changing businesses and non-profits, etc… while I’m still in my 30’s and 40’s , not in my 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. And as someone who has almost died a couple times, I know I’m not even guaranteed to make it till I’m old to enjoy money… so I’ve been really applying myself the last few years into a creating strategy of building wealth young, and this post outlines the strategy I’m taking to get there. If you already have some basic finance stuff down, know how to get rich slow and smart, the proven way, but are interested in seeing if you can fast forward financially a few decades, this post is for you!

First off, some definitions, here’s how I define wealth and riches:

Wealth- I believe someone is wealthy when they have complete control of their time. I believe time is much more valuable than money (what would you rather have $10 dollars and 10 more years to live, or $10 million dollars and 10 more days to live? I’d take the time, every time!) and consider someone wealthy when they can live a lifestyle they are content with (regardless of the cost of their chosen lifestyle) without financial assistance and without having to work another day to earn money if they choose not to.

Riches- I believe someone is rich when they are able to live a life of their highest desired amplitude. As in, the financial ability to do all the things they want to do and own the things they want to own, regardless of price tag.

Both of these are highly subjective, and rightfully so, as people all over the world have vastly different perspectives on what it means to be rich and their desired lifestyles and wants. However, Riches and Wealth are mutually exclusive. A retiree content wth a simple lifestlye with a lifetime government pension of $3,500/month and expenses of $3,000/month is wealthy, but not rich. A high-earning professional like a doctor or lawyer making $25,000/month and living a $25,000 a month lifestyle including a lot of big monthly expenses and debt could be considered rich, but is not wealthy, for if they stopped earning that high income for any reason, they’d be in danger of losing everything if they didn’t instantly reduce their lifestyle.

You can be rich and not wealthy. You can be wealthy and not rich. You can be neither. You can be both. You have to decide if you want one or both, but I’ve never found anyone who didn’t at least want one. I want to be both, and I want to be both while youngThis requires a different way of thinking, and bucking conventional wisdom that, at best, will make you wealthy and/or rich when you’re at retirement age if you stick with a consistent plan for many decades.

I said I want to be rich and wealthy, but I honestly don’t care which comes first, so I’m working on both at the same time with a two-pronged strategy:

1) To become wealthy, I constantly seek ways to improve monthly cash flow. I reduce expenses as much as possible (while still living an acceptably comfortable lifestlye keeping the family content and happy) by running a tight ship, good monthly budgeting, pay off debts, and increase monthly passive income.

2) To become rich, I take ‘home run swings’. A home run swing is something I am doing with my time, money, or both, that will result in a large increase of money in a relatively short amount of time (not multiple decades). At this snapshot point of my life I generally think of home runs as things that , if they work out, will make me millions of dollars in 5 or less years of time. For me, that would be ‘hitting one out of the park’. Earlier in my life, a home run might have been making $100K in a year, and later in life it might be $100M on a deal. You have to decide what dollar figure would be a home run for you at this moment of your life.

I do both at the same time. I put most of my working time into home run swings, and any spare money into Cash Flow improvements.  Once I achieve passive monthly income (income I don’t have to work for) that exceeds my normal monthly expenses, I’ll be wealthy. And once I hit a home run, I’ll be rich. I don’t know which one will happen first, but one will lead to the other. If I get passive-cashflow-positive first (wealthy), I’ll have complete freedom of my time, and will then exclusively pursue home run swings with every spare dollar and every spare moment of time until I hit one out of the park, then I can upgrade the amplitude of my life and go after the world-changing stuff I want to do. Or, if I hit a home run first (get rich before I’m cashflow wealthy), I’ll be smart and put a chunk of the home run money into boring, consistent, cash flow producing things that will more than pay for my monthly lifestyle expenses, and then continue working on changing the world with the rest. Same result (wealth and riches) regardless of order of achievement.

So yeah, that’s basically it. Here’s some Q&A if you’d like additional details:

 

Q: Could you get more specific about what you’re actually doing please?

A: Absolutely!

Here are specific things you can do to improve your cash flow on the road to wealth:

  • Trying to make as much money in my primary occupation as I can each month.
  • Side work; another job, overtime, or extra work when possible for additional income.
  • My wife helps by homeschooling our kids (not having to pay for childcare and not much school cost), preparing food for all of us (reducing food costs by not eating out a whole lot, and making sure we have healthy stuff), and she makes wedding cakes as a side business which generates a little extra income.
  • Reduce frivolous expenses as much as possible. We don’t have TV (internet and netflix only). We don’t have pets. We competitively shop our insurance and carry high deductibles. Etc…
  • Pay off debts and get rid of all monthly debt payments.
  • Buy real estate that can be rented and be cash flow positive. (This is the #1 way people become wealthy)
  • Buy stocks or paper assets that pay dividends or interest.
  • Loan money you get paid back monthly with interest.
  • Own stakes in companies that pay you a royalty, dividends, or profit sharing.
  • Purchase other cash-producing assets like productive oil wells, etc…
  • Own small businesses like franchises that can be managed by others and produce income for you as the owner.
  • Sell something that pays you residual income annually or monthly (insurance, etc…) from your customers.
  • Blog and monetize it
  • Write a book, sell it on Amazon.
  • Start a website: a small, highly-automated, niche internet business in your spare time.

Here are examples of Home Run Swings you can take on the road to riches:

  • Start a Business (This is the #1 way people become rich). I’m not talking about becoming self-employed, I’m talking about starting a business with the potential to scale it up. Scale can be accomplished many ways including hiring employees, multiple locations, internet efficiences like e-commerce and automation, etc…
  • Invest in a Business. Invest in a business by purchasing equity in a business today that you believe has the potential to go big in the future. Make sure it has the three P’s: good people, good product, good plan.
  • Real Estate Development or Land Plays. I know several people who made their first millions by getting investors to put up the money to buy a large piece of land, then they split it up and sold it or developed it. Doesn’t require you to be rich already, just takes some knowledge and good people skills.
  • Oil Industry, Exploration and other mineral plays. I know several people who have hit their home run in this industry. Right now we’re in a huge oil boom in this country, and there are opportunities all around it. You can make money with the oil, or by doing something needed for the people making the money with the oil. Get it?
  • Other leveraged investments like options, etc… Very risky, takes some skill and luck, but there are big winners and losers every day.
  • Anything you can do that has the potential to be big, where you can use OPM (other people’s money) to try it. Money will come to good people with good plans. I’ve experienced this personally multiple times.
  • Invent something. Patent it. Sell it, or start a business around it.
  • Create an app or niche internet solution that has the chance to appeal to millions of people. This is the newest, fastest way to riches.

 

Q: But doesn’t it, “take money to make money?”

A: No, that’s a lie. The fact is over 80% of millionaires are 1st generation (they did not come from money). I’ve personally raised millions of dollars to start two different home run swing kind of businesses, without having the money personally to do so myself. Again, money is attracted to good people with good products and good plans. It takes skills to make money, not money. You can take someone that has mastered the skillset of an entrepreneur, rob them of all their money, and exile them to a foreign land where they don’t know anyone… and within a couple years they’ll be rich again. It’s what’s between their ears that matters most. That’s why so many rich business people bounce right back after a catastrophic bankruptcy, and why so few athletes and lottery winners ever get rich again if they go bankrupt.

 

Q: I’m scared to take home run swings because they’re so risky and fly in the face of all financial advice I’ve ever received.

A: Yes, home run swings are risky, but I there are 3 incredible ways to minimize your risk. 1) Figure out how to get paid a living wage while pursuing your home run (I’ve done this twice now), and 2) Figure out how to use OPM (Other People’s Money) for most of your capital on your home run swings (I’ve also done that a few times now). 3) Do every business inside separate LLC’s to limit your liability exposure, and try to avoid any personal guarantees which would put your personal assets (like your home) at risk if at all possible. Everyone I’ve ever seen get wealthy or rich while young had to take some chances. If you want the sure thing, be the tortoise and go listen to Dave Ramsey or any good financial advisor and they’ll show you the proven, sure-thing way. Most people will never make millions while young because they think you need to “get lucky” or win the lottery to do so. But the fact is, if you’re not in the batter’s box taking home run swings, you’ll never hit one, I don’t care how lucky or unlucky you are! (and the lottery doesn’t count, it’s just a tax on the hope of broke people). Two quotes to remember with Home Runs Swings:

  • “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” -Wayne Gretzky
  • “Failure doesn’t matter. You only have to be right once.” -Drew Houston, Co-Founder of DropBox

So I say, take as many home run swings as it takes, and make sure you learn from each one. Also, one last thing, we tend to think about Home Run Swings in “best case” and “worst case” scenarios. This makes them scary and exciting. But, you know what? You can swing for a home run and still hit a solid double off the center field wall. My first big business opportunity I tried didn’t make me the millions I wanted, but I made a lot more when I sold my ownership than I would have if I’d stayed in my ‘safe’ job. Solid base hits are possible and great as well. Strikeouts are okay too, just make sure you learn from every at bat.

 

Q: I feel like I don’t know enough or am not smart enough to do this stuff. How do I learn the things you know?

A: It doesn’t take high intelligence to get wealthy and rich, it only takes the right actions. There are plenty of dumb rich people and brilliant broke people (please don’t make me give you examples, they’re obviously everywhere). I started down this path by reading books. You can learn a TON of good stuff on these topics by books. Two I read this year that I think really influenced my philosophy were “The Millionaire Fastlane” by MJ DeMarco and “Rich Dad’s CASHFLOW Quadrant” by Robert Kiyosaki. Start reading. Start learning the skills you need. Anyone can do it!

 

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment any questions or additional thoughts to add from your experience.

Posted in Finance, Success

10 Year Plane Crash Anniversary

Ten years ago today was a day I will never forget.

At the time I was 20 years old, a Junior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, AZ, working on obtaining my Commercial Pilot’s License. I had been flying since I was 16 and advancing rapidly through my studies and ratings.

November 29th was a beautiful clear, crisp fall day in Northern AZ. I took off from Prescott to do a cross-country solo flight to Laughlin, NV, then Boulder City, NV and back. I had to build cross-country time for my rating and found myself ahead of schedule, so I decided to do a little sightseeing along the way. Northwest Arizona is breathtaking jagged wilderness full of mountains and interesting rock formations. Over the desert I lost some altitude to check out an old abandoned airfield and some interesting topography. It was peaceful and beautiful out there and I loved the quiet peace of flying by myself away from civilization. After wandering around the sights for awhile I decided it was time to head home, and punched in Prescott on my GPS to give me a direct route.

Between my destination and my current location lay the jagged, rugged, Aquarius Mountains. I pushed in the throttle of the Cessna as I turned towards them and initiated a cruise/climb. The mountains rose in front of me as I paralleled a ridgeline to my left. I noticed my vertical rate of speed slowing, and then reversed as I began to lose performance in my climb. I checked my airspeed. It looked good. I checked my engine instruments. Everything was in the green. With full throttle, there was no reason I should have been descending… but I was. My curiosity quickly turned to concern as lost more altitude and sunk below the ridge to my left. In front of me the mountains only got higher, so I knew I needed to turn around and get back to the lower terrain, perhaps go do an emergency landing on that old airstrip so I could figure out what was wrong on the ground. I initiated a turn around a hill that looked like it would lead me back. As I descended around the corner, I realized every pilot’s worst nightmare, I had turned into a dead-end box canyon. I was now in a narrow canyon that dead ended into a mountain face, and still losing performance. Doing a 180 was too risky. I pointed at the lowest saddle of the canyon holding full throttle and best angle of climb on my airspeed… and kept sinking. My engine was running and I was praying I’d regain climb performance to clear the ridge. I kept the low point in front of me on the windscreen, and as I focused on it… I heard the unmistakable sound of my stall warning horn. I knew at that moment I wasn’t going to be flying out of the canyon. I lowered the nose to keep control of the aircraft and picked a spot to crash.

The canyon was getting narrower as I approached the dead end. I decided my best chance of survival was to turn into the left wall which had about a 50 degree upslope and try to avoid hitting the largest boulders if I could. I made a mayday call even though I didn’t think anyone would hear and continued to pray. The next few seconds seem to have all been in slow motion. I could not believe this was happening. I could not believe I was about to die. I never had the slightest clue that this would be my time. I did not feel ready. So I kept flying and kept praying. 

I made my left turn and aimed at a small clearing, keeping my hand forward on the throttle and nose low so I wouldn’t stall. As the rocky surface approached, I yanked back on the yoke, bleeding off the last of my airspeed and getting the nose at as high an angle as I could muster on impact. I remember seeing the rocks in front of me. I remember hearing a loud BOOM as I impacted. But the next thing I remembered I was laying on the mountain about 15 feet from the plane. I had no idea how I got there. I don’t remember unbuckling myself or climbing from the wreckage. I know almost no time had passed since impact as I could hear the gyroscopic instruments winding down and saw a waterfall of fuel coming from the broken left wing. 

It was so steep I thought the plane might fall down the mountain after impact. It didn’t. It just hit and stuck to the hillside. I also thought the plane would explode or catch on fire since I went in full power with a lot of fuel on board. but there was no fire. I knew there was a survival kit in the tail so I quickly ran and grabbed it before the plane could catch fire, then got a safe distance between me and the wreckage.

As soon as I was a safe distance I stopped to look myself over for injuries. I had none! I didn’t even have the smallest scrape or bruise ANYWHERE on my body. No bruises where my seatbelts were. No pain in my back which should have broken from the G-forces of the impact. My legs were fine despite a rock penetrating the floor and destroying the rudder pedals where my legs should have been when I hit. No cuts on my face despite the windshield being destroyed and many of the instruments on the panel inches from my face shattering upon impact. Nothing.

It was a surreal experience standing there on that mountain; this other-worldly setting of rocks and mountains with no signs of human life in any direction except for me and what used to be my airplane. Now I needed to get found.

I pulled out my sectional chart of the area and figured out exactly where I was. Not good. There were no roads, buildings, or water sources for many miles any direction. There were a few small patches of snow but I had minimal water, clothing, and shelter items. It was afternoon and I knew my best odds of survival were getting found TODAY. I climbed the nearest peak and built a signal on top out of a small reflective solar blanket, sticks and rope. I then hiked a ridge to another peak and built a windsock from the flimsy orange tube tent in the survival kit. It was a clear day and I could see probably 80 miles every direction and couldn’t see a single aircraft or sign of civilization anywhere. The silence was eerie, and I still felt like close to death, like I was still going to die. I thanked the Lord I survived the crash and proceeded to pass the time waiting for aircraft by writing letters to my family and friends. Even if I died, I was grateful I had a chance to express myself one last time. After I wrote letters, and read some Psalms from the pocket Bible I had with me, the sun continued its downward path towards the horizon as I scanned for aircraft. Nothing. I hiked back down to the plane to see if I could make sure the Emergency Locator was working and check the radios. The radios were destroyed but a small red light on the ELT in the tail gave me hope my position was being broadcast.

Sure enough about 3 hours after impact I spotted a small twin-engine plane. I used a signal mirror to try to get its attention turned towards me and my makeshift signals. My heart leaped when I saw him blink his lights and rock his wings. I knew I was found. They circled for a few minutes as I waved and gave thumbs up. They flew off and about 45 minutes later a DPS helicopter arrived and picked me off the mountain right as the sun dipped under the horizon and took me to Kingman, where I got on a ride on the same twin engine plane that found me (they were dispatched from my school to look for me when I didn’t show up to close my flight plan).

Dealing with the aftermath was a battle all on its own. Figuring out what happened, dealing with my school, the FAA, the NTSB, my own doubts, my future in Aviation, and all that took time and I went through many trials. Eventually I did piece together what happened and chalk the accident up to lack of experience in mountain flying. I was too close to the lee side of a ridgeline and had accidentally positioned my plane in a wave of downward-moving air called a mountain wave. And by the time I realized it, it was too late and I had made the fateful wrong turn. I got kicked out of the flight program at my school in a bogus way via a split decision where a 5-person panel (2 of which I got to choose) decided 3-2 I couldn’t stay in the program. I also got a slap on the 60 day suspension of my license from the FAA, later reduced to 45 days, who felt compelled to do ‘something’ even though the inspector liked me and understood it was purely an accident. I graduated from Embry-Riddle Magna Cum Laude and finished up my flight ratings at another flight school and am now a Commercial, Multi-Engine, Instrument Pilot and Flight Instructor. I learned a lot more about mountain flying after the accident and ended up instructing in Colorado for several years after school and have a stellar record. 

I’ve since got married, started a family and have three beautiful daughters, worked at rewarding careers, and started multiple businesses. The last 10 years have been truly the best years of my life.

I can’t help but feel like every day I have on this earth is a gift, and this last decade has been the best gift I’ve ever received. I’ve lost several friends in plane crashes that were better, more experienced pilots. I know it’s not fair I’m alive and they’re not. But I know my God is good, that they’re with Him, and that I’m going to make the most of my gift of life.

One thing that the plane crash did for me… looking right into death… it cemented in my heart what is really important. In those last moments I thought I had, everything else fell away. Nothing really mattered except two things: God and People. My relationship with God and my relationships with people were the only thing I cared about at that moment. I always try to keep that in perspective as I deal with all the cares and troubles of this life. 

God and People.

Posted in Memories/Events

The Jerk on the Airliner (me)

“Sir, just so you know, I moved your bag to this bin. You had placed it in the flight attendant’s storage area.”

“Uh, okay.” I respond back in my half asleep grogginess. Then it dawns on me… wait a minute, another flight attendant watched me put my bag in there and even helped me push it in when it was getting hung up on the hinges! It’s a bin like all the other bins, it’s not labeled ‘flight attendant’ bin, and it’s directly over my seat. What gives this lady the right to touch my stuff and move it down the plane and take my spot? That should be my bin fair and square. She’s just making stuff up to take my prime real estate! My mind flashes back to the statement she made and suddenly it seems condescending and patronizing. I feel slighted. I feel like she’s abusing her position for her benefit against a paying customer’s.

I plot my revenge.

My mischievous mind goes to work immediately conjuring a plethora of direct and passive responses to strike back. This lady picked the wrong dude to trifle with! Should I go the circuitous route and ask the first flight attendant that helped me out my bag in the bin why she didn’t tell me it was this other lady’s special bin and rope the kind flight attendant into it to make my point for me? Or, should I go the more direct showdown route and interrogate her on the airline’s flight attendant bin policy? I so enjoy a good showdown. In fact, I am great at the showdown. (Maybe I should have been a trial lawyer?) Should I wait until the middle of the flight when the mean flight attendant is preoccupied down the fuselage and quietly swap our bags’ positions back to where they were? That would be funny. I like funny. Or heck, there’s dozens of ways I could just subtly annoy her as a passenger. The possibilities are endless!

The above all happened in about a 1 minute timespan. Another kind, smiling flight attendant swung by and offered to take the banana peeI I was holding, and I snapped out of it thankfully. (Even though that banana peel had roles in a few of my sneakier revenge ideas!)

This carnal instinct I have to defend myself, push back, hit back, punish, when I’m “right” or feel “wronged” is my Achilles heel in life. You would not believe how much trouble it’s got me into! It’s cost me big time relationally and financially. Many of my treasured friends and relationships including my sweet wife have absorbed blows they shouldn’t have had to endure… And unfortunately I fear I lost some people from my life I won’t get back from times I didn’t catch myself and failed to snap out of it before I dealt my ‘righteous justice’. But thanks to my loving, patient, merciful, and longsuffering God hitting me upside the head with Holy Spirit 2x4s enough times, I’m slowly reaching a level of awareness of my problem that’s allowing me to deal with it. His Grace is giving me the strength to catch myself, take my thoughts captive more often and exhibit grace and mercy to others more often.

God cares a lot more about the precious hearts of His children than He does the validation of my correctness. Being right and being righteous are not the same thing. God doesn’t want me to go around being right all the time, He wants me to live a life of righteousness; the kind of righteousness Jesus walked with. Jesus is the Lion and the Lamb. He’s not afraid of conflict, but chooses his battles even when it means sometimes losing, sometimes being shamed, sometimes being mocked. So many times He held back His power out of love for those around Him, despite having all power and authority to ‘put them in their place’ any time He chose.

Jesus said, “I only do what I see my Father doing.” And when I take the time to listen to Father I hear what Jesus probably heard in a patient and loving voice, “Choose your battles, son.”

God made me a lion, and I have a hard time relating to lambs. But he made me a lion for a reason. He made me a lion so that I can be strong and courageous and win the battles I have assigned to me on this Earth. He didn’t make me lion so I could go around roaring with pride and mauling everyone that crosses me. I want to let the Holy Spirit put this lion on a leash to the will of my Father, and learn to walk obediently in step with him, purring like a gentle kitty-cat until He says, “NOW”.

Thanks be to God. He’s not done with me yet! I will get this right with His help.

Posted in Humor, Spiritual

2013 Personal Goals- 6 Month Checkup

Here’s a quick update on the 9 personal goals I’m tracking with my Bean iPhone App. This screenshot was taken late at night June 30th, exactly halfway through the year.

photo

 

Pushups- I’ve been pretty consistently doing pushups every day and not stressing about hitting a particular number every day, just making sure my overall pace is getting me the numbers I need each month. I’ve noticed a big increase in upper body strength by adding this small habit consistently to my life.

Workouts- I got off to a slow start but an now working out consistently and am slightly ahead of pace of where I wanted to be. However, my gym just closed/relocated so I’m going to be doing at-home workouts the rest of the year and need to develop that strategy and habit starting in July if I will hit my annual goal. I’ve been doing a mix of weight lifting, walking, jogging, sprinting, racketball, kettle bells, fitness dvd’s, etc… thus far. I’m mixing things up by lifting a couple times per week and doing something that involves cardio or anaerobic exercise at least once per week, and adding in long hikes/walks up and down steep hills with kids in the jogging stroller.

Non-Paleo Meals- I had a HORRIBLE January and February and racked up way too many of these while traveling on business. Now that I’m home more I’ve been able to meal plan better and slow my pace down. Gradually I’m trying to get my workout number to surpass my non-paleo meal number. Even though I’m way over my pace in this category, if I can dial back to about 1 per week, I can still make my 2013 goal.

Weight Loss- Not much to say here, this is my worst category. Bottom line is you can’t out-workout the fork and spoon. Gotta eat better. What the number doesn’t say though is that I’ve gotten significantly stronger this year and have noticed my body composition changing for the better (more muscle), however, I still have plenty of fat to lose. I’m encouraged by the fact that at least I’m headed downwards, albeit slowly, where the last few years I had been increasing.

Bible Reading- I got off to a slow start here, but thanks to the Daily Audio Bible and incorporating audio Bible listening into my drives and walks, I’ve made a lot of progress catching up to my goal here the last couple months and anticipate succeeding in hitting my 700 chapter goal this year. It’s been great for my spiritual life getting the Word back into my life consistently. It’s one of the best habits I’ve re-developed this year through this project.

Date Nights- Slightly ahead of pace here. If that number seems low to most of you, yes it it, but I’m only counting nights where I have a babysitter for all 3 kids and Melissa and I can go do something just the two of us with no other agenda or distractions. These are very difficult to accomplish when we don’t have parents around our town to help with kids. We do get a lot of uncounted quality time together hanging out and watching movies and reading/talking together after we put the kids to bed, but that doesn’t show up in the counter of course.

Blog Posts- This one replaced a sales goal block I had since I’m no longer doing the sales job I was at the beginning of the year. I’m right on pace here and quite happy to be writing again.

Books Finished- My reading has HUGELY increased this year thanks to this category. I’m reading daily again and have been greatly enriched in my life by the books I’ve been reading including business books, finance books, spiritual books, and even a history book about WW2. I want to keep this habit going and definitely think I’ll achieve my goal here in 2013 of 12 books finished.

Training Days- Mission Accomplished! This was the first category I’ve completely fulfilled. I count training days as me going to special events or trainings one full day long that are teaching or training me in something I’m trying to learn.

Overall I’m very happy to be tracking these things and know I wouldn’t be near where I am today if I wasn’t counting and paying attention to these things. I’m excited to see how many of the remaining 8 I can achieve in the next 6 months and want to make this a habit-development tool I use every year as I continue working towards realizing greater potential in life.

Posted in My Goals