By Mitch Stephen
Tragedy struck on June 20th, 2001. Everything changed. Life took an abrupt 90 degree turn, all but throwing my spirit out of the body it was riding in. I struggled to deal with my loss. When I finally came to the conclusion that I was not big enough to handle things myself, I gave all the pieces to God and asked him to put me back together again. And then one day, out of the blue, I sat down at my computer and started writing.
I’d never planned on writing a book. I’d never dreamed of being an author. It was never on my bucket-list of things to do before I died. I practically failed English class – every year! My English teachers, all of them, without a doubt, would vote me least likely to become an author.
Still, I began writing. I wrote and re-wrote and then re-wrote again, over eight hundred pages. I thought I had just written four hundred pages, but four hundred pages in 12 point font in Microsoft Word translates into an eight hundred page book. That’s how little I knew about English, and writing books.
By the time I finished that book, four years in the making, God had put me back together again…all together but with one hole, squarely in the middle of my heart. I had re-learned how to live, one piece missing.
In 2008 I published my first book, I didn’t know it them, but it would later become a series of books. The elevator pitch for the book reads as follows:
MY LIFE & 1,000 HOUSES: Failing Forward to Financial Freedom is the autobiographical account of an unlikely entrepreneur who stumbles upon the long standing revelations of business, money, love and life while struggling to find his own financial independence. Though his journey culminates in the eventual purchase and sale of over 1,000 houses, make no mistake, this is a story about falling down and getting back up. Laugh, cry, and cheer…but more importantly, be inspired.
Inevitably, every time I got interviewed about the book, the first question was always the same; “Mitch, What inspired the book?” My answer was always different, and it was always untrue. I could never quite put my finger on why I’d written the book.
Then one day, I was visiting my doctor for an annual routine checkup. My doctor is one of my private lenders and he has a lot of money placed with me on any given day, so he takes my health very seriously. Doc and his wife are also authors…the kind of authors that get paid advances to write books. Big advances! I asked the good doctor, “Is it possible a guy could write a book and not know why?”
DOC: Awwwww my boy, so you don’t know why you wrote the book do ya?
ME: No. I don’t think I do.
DOC: Have you ever seen that movie Forest Gump?
ME: Yes. It’s one of my favorite movies!
DOC: What did Forest Gump do when his heart was broken?
ME: He ran. He ran from one coast to the other, and then back again.
DOC: What do you think he was doing while he was running?
DOC: Yep! He was grinding it out…all that pain…and trying to put everything in order in his mind.
I knew where the doctor was going, but I didn’t want to give myself up until I was sure.
ME: So what are you telling me?
DOC: When a person has a tragic event happen to them, it’s a natural reaction for that person to want to categorize their life;
Why did this happen?
Why them and not me?
What have I done?
Why am I here?
Where do I go from here?
The minute Doc said the words I knew he was right. I wrote my book in reaction to my own personal tragedy. Hours upon hours I poured into those pages, until I could write no more. Forest Gump ran, and Mitch Stephen wrote. MY LIFE & 1,000 Houses: Failing Forward to Financial Freedom is the book that healed me.
First the tragedy changed my life, and then, the book changed my life again. Because I was grieving, I didn’t care what anyone thought about the things I was about to say in my book. I told of all my failures, all my disappointments, and the ugliness that all the other gurus seemed to have left out in their “You Too Can Get Rich In Real Estate” seminars. I didn’t care about how much money it cost to publish a book or how much money I was not going to make it as a self-published author. I didn’t care how long it took, or the fact that I had long since lost whatever little punctuation and spelling skills I’d possessed in the past. It wasn’t about punctuation or spelling, it was about having a long a deep conversation with myself…for four years!
Towards the end of the process, the editors and proof readers would all eventually ask me the same question, “You fall down so much in this book. Are you sure you want to publish this book like this?” The only person I ever asked for permission from was my wife who, at times in the book, gets pummeled pretty hard. She never flinched and said, “Hey, it’s the truth about what happened…and the truth is the truth!”
Writing that book took me, from where I was in that terrible time, to places I’d never have dreamed of. I have met people, gone places, and done things all as a direct connection to have written a heartfelt, no holding back, book. I have to admit, as time went on and the book began to get traction, the adulation of being an author was emotionally satisfying, even intoxicating.
Being an author was also educational in a way. All those situations I wrote about in my book that seemed so personal to me, resonated with hundreds of people across the nation. So many readers have called to say how much our lives are parallel. It seems everyone has spent their time in the woods. And plenty of them have come out of the woods stronger and better than ever. It’s the honesty that grabs the readers and keeps them reading to the very end. So, once again, honesty wins big in my life.
Ever since the publication of “Failing Forward…” there has been this one resounding question asked over and over again, “How in the world do you consistently find such great deals on houses?” In response to that question I sat down to write my second book in the MY LIFE & 1,000 HOUSES series. This book would not be for healing but rather to educate.
MY LIFE & 1,000 HOUSES: 200+ Ways to Find Bargain Properties is my earnest attempt to explain to people how I’ve managed to find so many deals. The first 30 pages or so are dedicated on how to set up your business from the very start, so you don’t have to start over again, in certain departments, once your business begins to require the help of others.
In the creative real estate investing arena, it all begins with a deal. Understanding this most basic function of investing is exactly where to start. When most of us begin our investing journey, we have little to no money. When you don’t have money you overcome your lack of funds by becoming a great, professional, deal finder. Never forget, it’s the deal that finds the money. The information in this book is enough to launch an entire career because it really is true…it all begins with a deal!
In 2015 I published a third book in the MY LIFE & 1,000 HOUSES series.
MY LIFE & 1,000 HOUSES: The Art of Owner Financing delves deep into the theories and practices of my favorite real estate investing strategy, Buying with OPM and selling with Owner Financing. This particular strategy is my favorite because it takes the banks completely out of the equation. You don’t need a bank to buy and you don’t need a bank to sell.
As everyone else begins to shut down when the banks start to clam up in the recessions, investors specializing in this owner financing strategy just keep on trucking. In fact, during the recession of 2008 I personally boomed; buying a house a day in one particular month. I was buying for cheaper than I’d bought for in years and I was selling for higher than I’d sold for in years. Find out how and why in this book.
Don’t let the price of the book get in your way. It is an extremely valuable book.
So there you have it! …the story behind how a guy who hated English class ended up writing three books. Be sure to get the “BUNDLE PRICING” when you order all three books at one time at 1000Houses.com/Books