When it comes to success, if there is one thing I’ve learned, is that it is an endless learning experience. One of my favorite sources for learning is books. I love reading, but more than that, I am fascinated with the unconventional wisdom and practical tools books can provide me. I often summarize the main lessons and take notes on how I can improve my personal and professional lives by implementing the lessons I gain from them.
In 2020 I read numerous books, and several of them left a mark on me. Today, I’m sharing which 3 books I learned the most from, and how these nuggets of wisdom helped me to become a better businesswoman and a better person.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the book’s authors or publishing companies, nor do I get any compensation for writing about these books.
Book #1: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
by Carol Dweck
Carol Dweck is a psychologist who developed a theory that there are basically two types of people: those with a fixed mindset and those with a growth mindset. People with a fixed mindset believe that people can’t change; everyone is born with a certain skillset and to them, failure is a negative occurrence.
On the other hand, people with a growth mindset are not afraid of failure or challenges, and don’t let failure define them. These people use the experiences as a way to grow and allow failure to help them become a better person. In some areas I find that I have a fixed mindset; while in others, I have a growth mindset. People do not usually belong exclusively to one mindset or the other, but a blend of the two. However, most have a dominant mindset (either fixed or growth mindset).
For example, I see myself as someone with a growth mindset for the most part. I used to live in southern California, but recently moved to Rhode Island. I really miss California and felt that I could only be happy there, which, of course, is not true. Even though a growth mindset is the dominant one in my life, the challenge of the move to the east coast was driven by a fixed mindset. Dealing with a fixed mindset is all about how we think of our own unique talents and abilities.
The author lays out a sequence of steps on how to make a personal journey to a growth mindset.
1. Acknowledge and embrace your fixed mindset, as we all have it in one or two aspects of our lives.
2. Learn what triggers your fixed mindset. Does the persona appear due to failures, criticism, deadlines, or disagreements? Does it come to you when you’re taking on a major challenge and the fixed mindset whispers, “Maybe you don’t have what it takes to achieve this,” or when you keep hitting a dead end and it says, “Maybe you should give up?”
Think about when the fixed mindset comes to you, what it tells you, and how it made you feel. How does it affect those around us?
3. Give your fixed mindset persona a name.
4. Educate your persona and take it on the journey with you. When you’re open to stepping out of your comfort zone, prepare to greet your fixed mindset persona when it shows up and warns you to “stop.” Thank it for her input and then tell it why you want to take this step and ask her to join you. Remember, it was born to protect you and keep you safe but developed very limited ways to do it. Educate it with a new mindset of how she can support you by taking on challenges and sticking with them and bouncing back from failure. It’s ok to understand the persona’s point of view but teach it new ways of thinking.
By following the author’s sequence, you’ll be able to access your growth mindset and make it dominant when needed.
Book #2: How to Win Friends and Influence People
by Dale Carnegie
It’s hard to imagine that a book written over 85-years ago and has sold more than 15 million copies would still have relevance in today’s business and social climate, but this book absolutely does. The principles are timeless. It’s the type of book everyone tells you is a “must-read,” but then you simply forget the advice and move on to a different book. However, if you’re in a position where you have to deal with people and gain their confidence and consensus, I suggest you invest your time reading this classic bestseller.
One of the key takeaways I learned from Carnegie’s book is that the best way to influence people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it. It’s such a basic concept, yet we often focus on ourselves and what we want, rather than finding out what the other person wants. After all, when you catch a fish, you don’t think about what you want. You think about what the fish wants.
I learned that you start by showing genuine interest in people by asking questions about themselves and finding out their interests and what they’re hoping to achieve. Once you gain that information you will be able to tailor your response to meet their unique needs. Before talking with potential investors, I have them fill out an investor form on my website that asks questions about their experience with real estate investments, along with questions about what they’re looking for; is it cash flow, tax benefits, or appreciation?
When I talk to potential investors, I never start with giving them the “spiel” about my company, me track record, or current business offerings. Instead, I use the information they provided in the investor form to talk about THEM first; their past deals, investments goals, what’s important to them in a deal, etc. I have information about what they want, and instead of talking about myself or my company, I talk about meeting their needs. I want to hear what is interesting to them and to find out what they want to achieve by investing in multifamily real estate and managing their money. That way I can show them how investing in my value-add properties will be beneficial to them in terms of what they’re interested in.
On the social side, the book reinforced the need to show genuine interest in others. That is the way to bond with people, and I try to implement that whenever I meet someone, whether in a social setting or in a business context. Another thing the book taught me is that you should always admit when you’re wrong. If someone is upset or angry, admitting you were wrong is something that will help to defuse the situation. This is something that I always try to do in both my personal and business life. It works!
Book #3: The One Thing
by Gary Keller
Everyone is stressed for time, with endless meetings (even on Zoom), multiple to-do lists, and too many emails to respond to. The issue is that not every one of these tasks have the same importance when it comes to contributing to your success. So, this book looks at what is the main thing – the one thing – you can do so that everything else becomes easier or unnecessary.
Reading this book helped me to identify the “big goal,” the “one thing”, that would change everything for my business. Keller suggested prioritizing your short-term goals and breaking them down by level of importance. So, what I’ve started doing is blocking some time in my calendar and dedicating that time to prioritizing my goals. Once I did this, it became clearer to me what “the one thing” was.
The challenge I was struggling with was that I didn’t see much change in my business in terms of acquiring additional deals. So, I kept looking for the “one thing” that would change everything, as the book suggested. Like most businesspeople, I usually started my day by answering emails. In addition, I was looking at deals, flying all over the country and walking properties under consideration, as well as a performing a multitude of other tasks each day. That made it hard to really nail down my goal of putting together one deal after another.
For me, the “one thing” was to hire a team of underwriters to help me get the next deal. This not only helped me focus, it freed up my time to focus on acquisitions. Instead of starting my day answering emails, I dedicated the better part of each morning to working on building my acquisition team. This was the main takeaway for me from Keller’s book, and it worked. It also helped prevent me from feeling burned out, which can happen when there’s too much stress and too many repetitive tasks.
Just be aware that once you find that “one thing,” it may open up the door to other “one thing,” and you’ll find that you have multiple ways of streamlining your workday and becoming more productive. Be receptive to it!
It’s not often that a book has a huge impact on your life, let alone three of them; but that’s exactly what I encountered in 2020. The takeaways from each of these wonderful books were quite helpful and I implemented their main points in both my personal and professional life.
First up was Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Her premise is that there are two types of people: those with a fixed mindset and those with a growth mindset. Those with a fixed mindset aren’t able to change, and they view failure as a negative. Those with a growth mindset aren’t afraid of failure or challenges and let the failures help them grow and become a better person. The book taught me that in some instances I have a fixed mindset, and in others I have a growth mindset. I also learned to embrace my fixed mindset, and to let it support me so that a failure or disappointment won’t drag me down.
The second book is a classic. Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, a book that’s been around since 1936. I learned that the best way to influence people is to learn what they want and then show them how to get it. I use this in my business by first finding out what potential investors want when it comes to investing their money in real estate, and then by showing them how investing with me will be beneficial to them. I also learned to show genuine interest in others, and always admit when you’re wrong or made a mistake. It helps to defuse a situation.
The third book is The One Thing by Gary Keller. Its premise is that you need to find the “one thing” you can do that makes everything else becomes easier or unnecessary. The “one thing” is a game-changer, and it really helped me grow my business. I also learned to prioritize my goals by breaking them down based on their level of importance. This helps to free up my time and get so much more accomplished each day. My “one thing” was to hire others to help underwrite deals, so I could devote my time to building my acquisition team. Thanks to Keller’s book, I found that “one thing” and was able to grow my business. It’s a book I highly recommend to all.
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About the Author
Ellie is the founder of Blue Lake Capital, a real estate company specialized in multifamily investing throughout the United States. At Blue Lake Capital, Ellie helps investors grow their wealth and achieve double-digit returns by investing alongside her in exclusive multifamily deals they usually don't have access to.
Ellie is the host of REady2Scale , a podcast that highlights honest, insightful, and thought-provoking discussions on the multiple approaches for successful real estate investing.
She started her career as a commercial real estate lawyer, leading real estate transactions for one of Israel’s leading development companies. Later, as a property manager for Israel’s largest energy company, she oversaw properties worth over $100MM. Additionally, Ellie is an experienced entrepreneur who helped build and scale companies by improving their business operations.
Ellie holds a Masters in Law from Bar-Ilan University in Israel and an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management.