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Recession? Lessons Learned from 2008 – Special Episode 2

In this special episode, Michael, Spencer, and Sam discuss their experience going through the Great Recession of 2008. As part of that discussion, they share insights and lessons learned from that time. They then offer advice, especially to those who are dealing with difficult financial or career circumstances and asking the question, what do I do now?

Listen as the guys share personal aspects of their story, in hopes of providing a helpful perspective in this time of increased uncertainty and distress.

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Episode Transcript – Recession? Lessons Learned from 2008 – Special Episode 2


Samuel Carlson (00:01):

Hello and welcome back to the Adventures in CRE Audio Series. This is another bonus episode after we wrapped up season number two. Today, we’ve got something really exciting that we want to share with you. It’s timely to the circumstances that we find ourselves in. It’s all about how to best navigate the current crisis, as well as lessons learned from 2008. Let’s get started.

Opening Voiceover (00:24):

Welcome to the Adventures in CRE Audio Series. Join Michael Belasco and Spencer Burton as they pull back the curtain on everything commercial real estate and introduce you to some of the top minds in the industry. If you want to take your skills to the next level and be part of a growing community of CRE professionals across the world, this is for you.

Samuel Carlson (00:49):

All right. Welcome back to the Adventures in CRE Audio Series joined today, of course, with Michael Belasco and Spencer Burton. How you guys doing?

Michael Belasco (00:57):

Pretty good.

Spencer Burton (00:59):

Yeah, doing good.

Perspective Today, Looking Back on 2008

Samuel Carlson (01:00):

Wonderful. Again, as I kind of stated in the intro, these are odd and interesting times. I think there’s a lot of people that want to know maybe some suggestions, what things they can do to navigate the current situation. Spencer, I’m going to dish it over to you to kind of set things up and really get the ball rolling here.

Spencer Burton (01:21):

Yeah. Michael and I both have had quite a few discussions in the last few weeks both with our day jobs and people we’re talking to about the economic environment that we’re in. There’s obviously the social environment around distancing and shelter in place. I don’t want to really get into that too much because that’s not our area of expertise, but around the economic elements and how this impacts our lives. We’ve had a lot of conversation with people, and I’ve felt from some fear, uncertainty, concern. There’s job losses I’m hearing in commercial real estate. I’m hearing pay cuts. There are deals that are stalling. Certainly most firms are taking a wait and see approach.

Spencer Burton (02:17):

Having been through 2008 and getting crushed by that recession in the property type I was working with at the time, I thought I’d offer my perspective. Sam has an interesting perspective as well as he went through that, and Michael has his perspective, and we thought we’d offer that, like some takeaways from that time and how they might relate today. Hopefully we can offer some thoughts for those who are nervous about the outcome here and maybe a glimmer of hope that these things are, believe it or not, for the better in the long run. Sam, that’s kind of the set up to what I want to get into today.

Michael Belasco (03:10):

Economically speaking for the better.

Spencer Burton (03:11):

Economically speaking.

Samuel Carlson (03:14):

Well, I think a lot of us as we… Whenever there’s some type of market correction or recession or whatever you want to call it, like you said, 2008 was a bit of a interesting year for myself as well as you guys as well. But coming up to these recessions, I remember back in 2008 what it was like coming up to the 2008. Okay? The market conditions, we were really doing the well. At the time, I actually owned of all things to own, not a great thing to own, a residential mortgage company. We were doing very well. In the State of Idaho, we were doing extremely well, and it hit us really quick.

Samuel Carlson (03:53):

That’s kind of like this, but the things that are interesting, and I think this is happening to people right now, is coming to the recession, it’s almost like you think nothing can go wrong. You accept those extraordinary conditions as normal. When something as shocking as that happened or as what we’re going through right now happens, it kind of jolts everything out of place. You know?

Spencer Burton (04:20):

What happens, right, is there’s headline after headline of good news and you become conditioned to believe that this is the new normal. In fact, you start reading articles about this is the new normal. Even this, this is a classic black swan event where something completely unexpected… Of course, there are experts out there who say this was expected, but be that as it may, completely unexpected from an economic standpoint and it sends us into a tailspin, even if it’s short-term. We don’t know how long it is. I woke this morning to a CNBC headline “Goldman sees 15% jobless rate and 34% GDP decline.” Now, the headline then continues, “followed by the fastest recovery in history.”

Spencer Burton (05:12):

Goldman sees kind of a V shape recession here, right? A big collapse followed by a recovery, but I believe that 34% GDP decline would be the largest decline in history, larger than anything we saw in the Great Depression. You have to believe that there will be ripple effects from that. While we may recover quickly… I believe, let’s see, Goldman sees a 19% rebound in the third quarter. It takes a while to come back from it. We saw that in 2008, right, where certain industries were hit early and the broader economy didn’t even know necessarily that it was happening. I mean, in the subprime situation, I mean, that stuff was first revealing itself late 2006.

Spencer Burton (05:59):

Sam, the mortgage company you talked about, for those who don’t know, I was partner in that mortgage company. Sam and I have been friends since we were young. It took us… I think most people in the industry, it hit us flatfooted. Here you go December… I remember this day, December I want to say it was 14. It was a Friday in the middle of December. We all finished our workday. Monday comes around and I get a call from Sam saying, “Hey, our largest Alt-A lender went under over the weekend.” For those who don’t know, everyone knows subprime, but most don’t know Alt-A. That mortgage company we were talking about largely lend Alt-A mortgages, which are effectively nonconventional mortgages to credit worthy borrowers.

Spencer Burton (06:49):

They were very, very popular at the time. They were like the subprimes equivalent, but for good borrowers and they were very popular. Over the weekend completely unexpectedly, at least to those outside of that small little world, completely unexpected gone. That rippled into… Now the rest of the world discovered this kind of later in 2007, but it was like COVID-19 unexpected. All of a sudden, your world’s upside down. What do you do?

Samuel Carlson (07:24):

I’m glad that you said that up because one of the things that people are saying is this seems like a very abrupt, quick thing. Okay? In 2008, for us, it was extremely abrupt and quick. I mean, you’re talking about from one month we went from doing 80, 90 mortgages to the next month doing three or four. That’s a literal number. That is a very short amount of time to see the spigot get turned off. Most businesses during that time because they weren’t in the mortgage and lending field didn’t see that quick of a turnoff. When they talk about the recession, everybody has their own experience. For me, this is very similar to that to where we saw, hey, somebody just shut the spigot off, right?

Spencer Burton (08:16):


Samuel Carlson (08:17):


Spencer Burton (08:18):

That’s what happened here. A month and a half ago, I was on vacation and then I come back and all of a sudden I can’t go to work anymore. Two weeks later, no one can go to work and the economy shuts down. Like you said, the spigot turns off. It can be very scary especially if this is your first downturn.

Samuel Carlson (08:42):

Right. I think that was one of the… As we were talking about this coming into this episode, one of the things that I wanted to share was it doesn’t have to be scary. Because of my experience and your experience and I’m sure Michael has his own experience of going through that recession, I actually feel encouraged because, A, this was not built upon… I mean, from what we know, built upon anything fundamental in the economy. It was more of, like as you said, a black swan event. This is more of an event. Whatever happens after as far as the recovery time does not really matter. Will there be change? Yes. Is there opportunity? Absolutely. Can you position yourself to succeed? 100%.

Takeaways from 2008 – Have Value to Offer the Marketplace

Samuel Carlson (09:34):

But I think that in order to do that, and hopefully this is kind of where we can start talking about because this is really where my journey took me, is in order to position yourself to win from this, you do need to rethink the way you approach everything. I mean, if you’re trying to get a job, if you’re trying to start your own business, or whatever the case maybe, doing it the way you would have done it even six months ago needs to change. You need to adapt and become indispensable to the opportunities that are out there waiting for you. I think that shifting and pivoting the conversation towards, okay, we are where we’re at, now what? What do you need to do?

Spencer Burton (10:20):

Yes. The first takeaway for me from the 2008 environment. I was a partner in the mortgage company and at the time, I was a land developer, right? Land development meaning lot development. If you’re familiar with that time, that spigot turned off. There was no liquidity in lot sales, certainly not in the markets I was in, none, which means there was no business there. My biggest weakness at the time, I didn’t realize it, is I had no other skillset. In fact, and some of you know this, I didn’t have a college degree at that point in time. I quickly realized I had no value in the marketplace. Because I had no value in the marketplace, I couldn’t support my family and it was humiliating personally.

Spencer Burton (11:17):

Thankfully, I had a residential developer colleague who was a former client who I had worked with and then had gone to work for him. He opened up some opportunities and we went and we developed a project outside the United States because there wasn’t any residential development happening inside United States. Even so, outside of that environment, I wouldn’t have gone to Central America to develop housing if opportunities were good in the States, right? Nevertheless, I realized I had no marketable skill outside of this really very much niche idea, this niche area of residential land development, and I needed a decent education to back up the skills and then I needed to broaden those.

Spencer Burton (12:08):

We left, but when I moved to Panama, I had 28 credits of undergrad completed and a GPA of 1.9, right?

Samuel Carlson (12:18):

That is an incredible story, by the way. I mean, if you think about what happened after, that’s… I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you, but that’s incredible.

Spencer Burton (12:27):

Yeah. I was young, and I was dumb, and I thought I’m smart enough. I don’t need that. I can hustle and put deals together. I had been very successful at it. Of course, any blind squirrel at the time could have found an acorn. I was doing very, very, very well prior to the crash, and then all of a sudden the spigot turned off and it was over. I realized I didn’t have a marketable skill. The marketplace didn’t need me, and I had to make myself marketable. That has been my mission since, right? I focused on getting an education. I did that at nights while I was working on our project in Panama. I spent nearly seven years in Panama kind of learning that, but knowing I needed to pivot away from the residential land development thing.

Spencer Burton (13:16):

As much as I enjoyed it, it wasn’t a longterm viable area of real estate that I wanted to be in. That led to Cornell and I attribute much of my success to my graduate degree and the people that I met there, Michael included. Then coming out of that and going in to work at an institutional shop and now I’m going into this one and I have the skillset. I’m not at all nervous and that’s because I have value in the marketplace and I didn’t have that before. That’s my first takeaway. It was a long-winded way of saying if you don’t have value in the marketplace, you got to get it.

Samuel Carlson (14:00):

Well, and I think that’s where Michael, myself, you, I think the first thing that we all can agree on that we each did and would be another move that everybody should look at right now was acquire the skills and the value you need to, again like you said, to have your value, to have what you can give and add in the marketplace. Michael, maybe a little bit when you were… Because you and Spencer were obviously in school at the same and you were coming out of I believe a career in building. Correct?

Michael Belasco (14:38):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s right.

Samuel Carlson (14:41):


Takeaways from 2008 – Get Your House in Order; Take Care of What Matters Most

Michael Belasco (14:41):

My 2008-2009, that whole area of experience was a lot different than you guys. You guys were out and about. I was actually still in school. What I saw during that time, I was pretty much sheltered within the educational system. What I saw was a lot of people fleeing back to education, which is exactly what happened when everybody losses their job, and Spencer, you really kind of said it. You go back and you figure out how to become marketable. Look, there are similarities, there’s this black swan event, like you said, there this downturn, but there’s a lot of added different angles to this, right? There’s a health component to this, right?

Michael Belasco (15:21):

There’s a lot of different things. But weirdly enough, we are even more adept today to dealing with a situation like this because how far technology has advanced. There’s so many things you can do. Online education has proliferated and there’s just so many opportunities. Universities, all those free education out there. But point being is that in times like this… What is it? Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Get your house in order. There are needs that need to be met. Then once those are met, I mean, now is the time to say, “Okay. I have a little window here. Once I have all my stuff in order, I’m not stressing out, my family’s taken care of, we have food, everybody’s in their right places and healthy, now’s the time to kind of expand.”

Michael Belasco (16:11):

I mean, it’s funny, you could focus on education, even hobbies you can pick up. It’s funny. I’ve been playing my guitar a lot like crazy, which is awesome, which is great, but now is really an opportunity to kind of go inward a little bit, right? We’re so out and about and all of a sudden things are going great and you kind of turn down. I was kind of doing that. That’s kind of what you do when you’re in school and that’s where I was in 2008. I’m seeing the return back. It’s almost there these sentiments and feelings about people that I’ve grown up with. Going back a little bit, outside of the stressors of what’s happening, you can kind of see that and just kind of return.

Michael Belasco (16:54):

Weirdly enough, like a return to self and inner growth and learning, stuff like that. Look, there’s a lot of stress. There’s a lot of scary things going on. What’s the saying? I’ve been hearing it so much now during this downturn. It’s be greedy when others are fearful and be fearful when others are greedy, right?

Samuel Carlson (17:14):

Warren Buffett.

Michael Belasco (17:15):

It’s kind of like everybody is kind of… Greedy might not be the right word for this, right? Get out of the fear and expand or grow or get greedy with your education or get greedy with yourself personally right now. It’s tough to find a job, almost impossible, but there is light at the end of the tunnel is basically the point. Just prep for it, right? This is a moment in time. I saw it and I was sheltered from it, but I saw everybody come out. I mean, you guys, I’ve heard your stories and it’s fascinating. You guys can write a book about your story through 2008. There’s a lot more of the personal details and the struggles you guys went through that you’ve come out on the other side.

Michael Belasco (17:57):

I remember, Spencer, when we were at Cornell and just like… I remember you telling me the story from like it’s not rags to riches. It was riches to rags, right? But it’s such a good story. It’s the story that I went home and I was like telling my wife, “This guy Spencer, his story is amazing.” Right? There’s darkness. The other thing, Spencer, that we talked about, that book that you’re talking about, The Infinite Game, right? We’re in a moment in time and nothing is permanent. There is another side to this. We will get out. Nothing lasts forever. Prep. Take some stock.

Michael Belasco (18:36):

Get some personal time, retool, be family as much as you can, but really prepare because there is another side to this and here’s kind of a window of opportunity weirdly enough outside of all the craziness.

Spencer Burton (18:49):

Yeah. Yeah. We’re speaking to the individual, but I think you can also say the same of a company, right?

Samuel Carlson (18:55):

Yeah, absolutely.

Spencer Burton (18:56):

How often do you get a chance to pause and reassess where you are and where you’re going? If you’re a small business owner, maybe a development [inaudible 00:19:07] development deals are drying up right now, it’s a chance to rethink who you are as a company, what your strategy is. No one will fault you. That’s kind of the beauty of this particular situation, everyone’s paused and stopped. No time in my life have I ever had so much time to be productive and it’s been incredible. That’s my first big takeaway. Thanks, Michael, for your perspective on that as well. Your skillset matters.

Samuel Carlson (19:48):

Your skillset absolutely matters.

Spencer Burton (19:51):

Your skillset is your value in the marketplace. Think about that and strengthen your skillset. Take the opportunities now that you have to do.

Samuel Carlson (20:03):

Hold some inventory. Sit down with yourself and say, “Hey, what skills am I good at? What things do I need to get better at? Where can I become indispensable to people that are looking to hire, right? When they’ve got a stack full of resumes, how’s mine going to stick out from everybody else?” For me, as I look back at that time, one of the behaviors and one of the things… My big thing here is when I look back at what I initially did, I can look back and say, “I didn’t manage the situation very good at all at its onset.” It came in pretty quickly. I was young and I never anticipated those types of challenges.

Takeaways from 2008 – Don’t Wait for Things to “Get Back to Normal”, Be proactive

Samuel Carlson (20:55):

One of the things that I have now come to really be an advocate for and even until to today, even today this is a huge problem, is just the mindset and the way you show you. Here’s what I mean. Okay? Most people behave and interact with other people and do their job almost subconsciously from day to day, meaning they have a pre-programmed response in their communication, in the way they execute tasks, in the way they do their job. Everything is almost subconscious. Okay? It’s kind of like when you’re driving your car, if you’ve ever driven your car for a place that you go to a lot and then all of a sudden you end up there and you’re like, wow, how did I… You’re on autopilot, right?

Samuel Carlson (21:42):

The whole time you were safe, You were executing the tasks that you need to do to be a safe driver, but you showed up there without much thought. This is the way that most people enter their daily lives. For me, this was a problem because I did the same thing. What it led me to at that time was sitting and waiting. You know what I mean? It was like sitting and waiting to see what’s the government going to do to help me, is my business going to come back. It was basically just sitting and waiting for things to happen. Now, not intentionally. It wasn’t like I was saying, “Oh, I just want to be lazy,” because I’ve never been lazy, but I just didn’t know. I didn’t know what to do.

Samuel Carlson (22:29):

One of the things that I really believe in… If I were to say, “Hey, what is a big lesson that led to any amount of success that I’ve had since,” and that’s been show up with a plan. Be proactive. Okay? That starts at the beginning of your day every single day and that continues through whatever it is that you’re going after, whether that’s to get a job, to start your own company, whatever it is. If you show up proactively, you’re going to win. Not just because, hey, I have a plan or whatever, it’s because most people are operating subconsciously. You start to do these things that they themselves would never do.

Samuel Carlson (23:11):

Right now, and I’ll just anecdotally share this, we have got a ton of people that as far as their behavior in the Accelerator, which we don’t need to get into that, they are taking action. They are consuming content. They are asking questions. There’s all these amazing things that those people are doing to take action that I find that maybe wouldn’t have happened had this not happened. You know what I mean?

Spencer Burton (23:38):

Yeah. I mean, that’s that deliberate action you’re talking about, right? You’re right. It’s easy to fall into the autopilot, but those who take deliberate action have plans. I love that that’s your takeaway because my second takeaway… By the way, we didn’t rehearse or we didn’t talk through any of this.

Samuel Carlson (23:55):

I feel like it’s better if you don’t. Yeah.

Takeaways from 2008 – Focus, Be Consistent

Spencer Burton (23:57):

Yeah. My second takeaway is around focus. I think there’s a lot of parallels with your deliberate action idea. What I found is when times are really bad, having a longterm focus on something that I was working towards made… It’s that infinite game idea. The short term is less important than working towards this longterm thing that I had. My wife and I had at the time a clear focus on where we were going and that helped us make decisions on a daily basis and on a monthly basis that work towards that focus. We were deliberate about it. We knew exactly where we were going. We weren’t sure exactly how we’re going to get there, but we had that focus. That drove the decisions that we made in those coming years.

Spencer Burton (24:56):

It took years, by the way, I mean, to get out of that unfortunately. 2008 was a really tough time. Again, I wasn’t well-positioned or prepared for it. Certainly not as prepared as I am for this one. That was tough and it took some time. But because we had that focus, it allowed us to take deliberate action because we knew where we were going.

Samuel Carlson (25:18):

I heard this phrase one time that consistent effort compounds, right? Meaning if you’re out there and you’re trying to do things, it’s not one or two attempts that are going to get you the result. It’s that consistent effort. As you do anything overtime, it has compounding effects. If you were to really want to lose weight, if you do a crash diet for a week, that’s not going to work. But if you set a goal and you also identify the behaviors and the actions that you’re going to need to get you there, it’s not hard to do. You just have to be consistent overtime.

Spencer Burton (25:59):

Let me share really quick. I wasn’t going to share this, and so I’m a little vulnerable in sharing it. That’s focus. One of the objectives that my wife and I concluded we needed was a graduate degree from a top 10, 15 university. Okay? For many of you, that doesn’t seem like it’s that big of a deal. Where I grew up, no one went to a top 50 university. Okay? I don’t mean it to sound elitist at all, and it wasn’t really about that. It was I felt like if I had a business degree from one of these top universities, that I would always be secure from there. I didn’t want to feel this insecurity, financial insecurity is what I’m talking about, financial insecurity again.

Spencer Burton (26:54):

At the time when we made this decision, this was a few months prior to us finally moving to Panama. Money had run out. We had two kids at the time. Actually we had one with a second on the way, about to be born. We moved into my in-laws’ basement. Okay? Talk about complete humiliation. Here I am, we were married for several years, moved in to my in-laws’ basement and we created that objective. We said, “That is what we need in order to…” This is unique. This is specific for everyone else, so that’s why I hesitated to even share it, but that was for us what we felt like and that created focus. We had a couple other longer term objectives that we were working towards, but that was the big one for us.

Spencer Burton (27:41):

Again, in the perspective of in my in-laws’ basement and 28 credits from a subpar university and a 1.9 GPA, I won’t even say what university it is, it’s that subpar at the time, that focus made all the difference. It helped me get through kind of the darker times when things just… It was not fun for quite a few years.

Michael Belasco (28:05):

I’m actually really glad that you shared that. That was what I was kind of alluding to the story of you gone from on top of the world to your in-laws’ basement because everybody kind of regress in a lot of cases today. You’ve regressed to a severe sort of… You hit a huge trial right there, right?

Samuel Carlson (28:30):

You can call that rock bottom.

Takeaways from 2008 – Develop a Plan

Michael Belasco (28:30):

You call rock bottom, but that’s what… Right? You developed a plan from that point. You were in the basement of your in-laws’ house, right? Where everybody is today, you just lost your job, I mean, look, that’s why your guys’ story because you actually were there. I mean, this isn’t you just preaching something. You guys felt it, experienced it to the depths. You being able to speak from your in-laws’ basement, you are speaking from there. I’m glad that you shared that because that is like you know where to go from there. That’s the outline, right? You set the goal, focus, all these things that we’re talking about. I just wanted to jump in and just say that…

Michael Belasco (29:13):

Just to reiterate for the audience, this is coming from people who really… We’ve been there. Spencer’s in his in-laws’ basement coming out, but that’s big, right? It’s vulnerable. That’s huge I think. I just wanted to reiterate that.

Samuel Carlson (29:30):

There’s a story and it’s one of my favorite stories. I believe it was Warren Buffett and Bill Gates were together at Bill Gates’ parent’s house. I mean, these are a lot of old people in one room. Okay? Brace yourself.

Spencer Burton (29:46):

I hope that story is true because if it’s not true, that is still a good story even if it’s not true.

Samuel Carlson (29:49):

It is true. It has been fact checked. My recounting of it maybe a little off, but the truth is here. All three, so Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Bill Gates’ dad says, “Hey, I’ve got the two riches people at my house. I need to ask these guys a question.” He asked them independent of each other, if you could cite one thing of anything that has been a key to your success, what would you attribute it to? Independent of each other, they each wrote the exact same word, and that word was focus. It’s really interesting.

Samuel Carlson (30:30):

When you look at the way people displace all of their efforts, the way we go this direction chasing one objective and then that direction chasing another and then this direction with distractions of whatever the distraction is, all of that effort and time gets displaced or gets used in one way or another. When you’re talking about focus, what we’re talking about is putting a magnifying glass directed at something that you want to achieve and accomplish, right? I mean, for me finding a mentor and having a person, which was ultimately something that I found down the road, it was ultimately something that for me gave me that focus. I learned it through hard knocks.

Samuel Carlson (31:20):

I mean, there’s something to be said for that, but if you’re listening to this and you’re saying, “Hey, I don’t necessarily want to move into my in-laws’ basement,” you don’t have to, right? It just so happened that…

Spencer Burton (31:31):

I do not recommend it.

Takeaways from 2008 – Find, or be, a Mentor

Samuel Carlson (31:32):

Yeah, it’s not recommended. I think that there’s a lot of things. For me, mentorship. Mentorship was absolutely huge. I was doing a lot of things in my own day to day business. I’ve never had a job. I’ve always owned my own business. I’ve always been an entrepreneur. That same thing I was talking about where you almost behave subconsciously, meaning you don’t really think with intent, having a mentor for me started giving me all those pieces. What I think is absolutely amazing today… Now this is 2008, so that’s 12 years ago. Even back then, we didn’t have podcasts. We had like talk radio basically. I mean, maybe we had podcasts. I didn’t listen to podcast.

Samuel Carlson (32:16):

We didn’t have all this information, but what I think is amazing about today is mentorship is actually evolving in my opinion. You can have the one-on-one. What I really admire about both of you is the amount of time you take to speak directly to people in your audience. I know this for a fact because I see emails and I see scheduled calls with people that are just doing consultations or just talking. These are just open discussions. What I really appreciate about what we can do today is we can come on and have a three way discussion and share our experiences and in essence be…

Samuel Carlson (32:58):

I don’t mean this like we’re above anybody or anything like that, but hopefully this experience can serve as a little bit of mentorship for people who are maybe trying to create a plan or feeling a little out of sorts with all this. I think really we do have opportunity so long as our mindset is positioned and we have the right perspective on things.

Takeaways from 2008 – Look Outward, Forget About Yourself, and Help Others

Spencer Burton (33:20):

Yes. I’m really glad you brought this up as well because my third and final takeaway…

Samuel Carlson (33:25):

Am I like taking everything?

Spencer Burton (33:28):

No, no, this is perfect. At these points in your life, again, it’s a reassessment, it’s a reevaluation, forget about yourself. I know that’s hard to say especially in the context of have some focus and think about your skillset and that’s really your value in the marketplace. But when you reverse your thinking and you wake up in the morning and say, “Who can I help,” it’s amazing how the universe just turns around and helps you back. You talk about mentorship. I’m sure I’m speaking for Michael when I say this, we do those phone calls and we respond to these emails because we enjoy it. That’s why we do it.

Spencer Burton (34:14):

We like talking to people, and it feels good to help other people, but it also is interesting and that’s something we enjoy. But what you’ll find is if you kind of forget about your plight and think about, okay, what skills do you have, what abilities do you have that can help someone else, number one, it makes the harder times a lot easier because you’re not so focused on what’s going wrong, but you also represent to the world that you’re a value-driven individual, that what you want is to benefit others. People just want to work with folks like that.

Samuel Carlson (35:01):

Yeah, I agree?

Spencer Burton (35:02):

Michael, am I off base here? Am I not getting this quite right? What are your thoughts on that?

Michael Belasco (35:09):

I mean, I don’t have much to say to that. I think that’s totally right. You take time away from yourself. Time goes by, you’re focusing on other people, it’s helpful, and you do. You get something out of that. It feels good. In a weird way it’s kind of selfish because when you’re done, you feel good that you’ve helped somebody, if you’ve helped somebody and hopefully you got a good conversation and it was insightful and helpful. Every time I talk with somebody, I feel like I get something back from them as well. There’s stuff like I don’t go into the conversations.

Michael Belasco (35:39):

People reach out and ask me for input or advice and I’ll give them what I have, but I oftentimes find I learn just as much as from the conversation because they’ll tell me stuff that I don’t know, right? I’m not here pretending to be an expert on all things. We’ll have a conversations and we’ll share ideas and it’ll be about the person who’s on the other end of the line or on the other end of the email. It’s good. I benefit from it just like you.

Spencer Burton (36:11):

Let me echo that sentiment. Michael and I do calls a couple of times a week at least. I had a call this week. I won’t give too many details because I don’t want to divulge the individual’s details, but 25 year old guy who spent a couple of years at a particular shop. I learned some really interesting things from this person, right, just because we all had different perspective, we’ve done different things. Back to my point about look outward, it’s not just all going and raking your neighbor’s yard. I’m not saying that. We’re talking career. We’re talking economics. You have a skillset that you can offer to others and you don’t have to get paid all the time to do it.

Samuel Carlson (37:01):

Sometimes that’s the best way to get your foot in the door.

Spencer Burton (37:04):


Wrapping Up This Episode

Samuel Carlson (37:06):

Kind of in summary to wrap this episode, I think it’s safe to say that while in maybe challenging times we find ourselves right now, there’s opportunity that will come about from this. If you have the right perspective, if you are open to trying things a new way, and if you’re open to bettering your skillset and your value to the market, you can certainly position yourself to win after this. Anything you would add to that, Spencer or Michael?

Michael Belasco (37:38):

I think it’s well said.

Spencer Burton (37:42):

Yeah, no, you’re spot on.

Samuel Carlson (37:44):


Spencer Burton (37:46):

Yeah, I do have something to add. I would not change what happened in 2008 for the world.

Samuel Carlson (37:54):


Spencer Burton (37:55):

I am who I am today because of what I went through. I’m grateful for that time. I wouldn’t change it.

Samuel Carlson (38:02):


Spencer Burton (38:04):

If you’re going through a really hard time economically right now, you’re going to look at back this… This is cheap words at this point in time for you, but you’re going to look back on this time at some point, especially if you take advantage of this time, and you’re going to be grateful for it because you’re going to be stronger. Your company’s going to be stronger. If you have a company, your company’s going to be stronger for it. As an individual, you’ll be better. Your career’s going to be better off because these sorts of disruptions force you to be better and do better.

Samuel Carlson (38:34):

Couldn’t agree more.

Spencer Burton (38:35):

Those are my parting words.

Samuel Carlson (38:36):

One really great thing that has come out of this and almost a bit of announcement to the listeners and to people over at Adventures in CRE, one of the cool things that is happening as a result of this is we’re launching a new, almost like a sub audio series to the audio series. Now we record, if you don’t know this, most of our episodes in this audio series are recorded in seasons. Last episode and this episode are bonus episodes, but they’ve also kind of maybe lit a little bit of a fire in us to help people understand what other opportunities and what other stories can help them through these times. We’re launching a new subseries called Accelerators In Action. That’s going to be absolutely amazing.

Samuel Carlson (39:27):

We’re going to have people that are out there doing amazing things both in commercial real estate, in their community and different things, and we’re going to be sharing their stories. Stay tuned for that. We appreciate everybody that has come on and listened to this. If you like this, feel free to give us a review and we’ll see you on the next episode.

Closing Voiceover (39:48):

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the Adventures in CRE Audio Series. For show notes and additional resources, head over to www.adventuresincre.com/audioseries. Would you like to learn real estate financial modeling in a matter of weeks and do it with zero guess work? If so, the A.CRE Accelerator is for you. The Accelerator is a step-by-step case-based program designed to teach you exactly what you need to know and in the order you need to know it, so you can gain both the knowledge and experience to take your career to the next level. To see if the Accelerator is right for you, go to www.adventuresincre.com/accelerator.