Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? It’s okay. Neither do I.
I am sure we have all met those people that knew they wanted to be a veterinarian at 5 years old, got amazing grades, flew through vet school, and are incredibly fulfilled and passionate about their vocation.
That is not common. That is actually pretty rare. Most of us take a much messier path.
To reach our potential for fulfillment and making a positive impact on the world, we need to find the place where our talents, passion, and opportunity intersect.
Seeking a path where you are passionate but lack opportunity is a great recipe to not be able to make a living and therefore lack the ability to make a large impact on the world. Seeking a path where you have talent and opportunity but no passion is just as bad. Because you are not passionate, you will not develop your talent to its full potential and you will be inherently miserable.
Note: I need to pause here and say that just because you are passionate does not mean you don’t have difficult days where you have doubt or it’s hard. Being passionate means that you are energized by doing it and it is exciting to pursue constant and never ending improvement to reach your potential.
My story is not linear. It is naive and messy with many mistakes. I hope you can learn from my mistakes and reflect on your own journey with a little different lens.
My first love, like many American boys, was sports. I grew up riding bulls. My Dad and Uncle rode bulls in High School and I spent time around my Dad’s horses and my Uncle’s cows from a very young age. We watched bull riding on TV and I wanted to be a Cowboy.
I got on my first calf when I was 6 years old and I was terrible. I was a skinny, wiry 6 year old with long arms. Thankfully, my Dad pushed me to practice and found a place close to home to practice. This was one of the most impactful periods of my life, where I learned a growth mindset. I think that is the point of sports for kids. I practiced every week and improved drastically. I built this internal confidence that I could get better at anything I wanted if I practiced consistently and gave my full effort.
My entire family spent years and years traveling to small towns pursuing rodeo. Much like baseball families, we would go to 2-3 rodeos every weekend. We started winning often. My Dad had to file 1099s for his 7 year old and would for several years.
I wanted to be a Professional Bull Rider when I grew up. As I grew up, I began going to bull riding schools to learn and move to the next level of difficulty and size of animal. Something shook me though. Here I was at the school of one of the legends of the sport, he was my Dad’s age and didn’t have much to his name and couldn’t move around very well. That shook my passion. I would practice at current professionals’ houses and see broken families and misery. That isn’t the rule but it shook my passion.
I went on into high school rodeoing and having some success but bitterness grew. I continued riding because it was a big part of my identity but I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t practice. I didn’t watch it on TV. I realized I wasn’t passionate about it.
- Talent: Innate, yes. Unfulfilled is worthless.
- Passion: No.
- Opportunity: No. Without passion, you don’t fulfill your potential.
Note: I do love bull riding today and have put it in its place in my heart. I treasure those memories with my family and the friends we made along the way. And the song “Dear Rodeo” by Cody Johnson tears at my heart strings every. single. time.
In High School I found a new career path to chase. Good grades came easy to me and I spent 5 years in braces, so Dentistry looked like a good way to make a living. Working for yourself and having “Doctor” in front of your name sounded great to me.
So I was a Pre-Dental major in college. I went all in. My resume was stacked. I had a ton of shadowing hours from Dental Mission Trips. Me and a Dentist from my home town would drive down into Mexico a couple of hours and hold 3 day clinics seeing patients often.
I went on a 15 day medical mission trip to Uganda. Imagine a 21 year old with a 20 hour layover in Dubai and getting to white river raft the Nile from the headwaters in Uganda. It was a grand adventure.
I went to Ecuador and hiked the mountain sides through rose plantations. Notice how there isn’t much mention of the dental work itself. I loved the adventure.
I got okay grades and a pretty good DAT score. I was invited to a few interviews. BUT I didn’t get in. I tried for several years but didn’t get accepted. I was humiliated. My confidence was crushed. Every extended family member and friend knew why I went to college. I was supposed to be a Dentist.
- Talent: Ehhhh.
- Passion: For adventure, yes. Dentistry, no.
- Opportunity: Not for me.
While in my undergrad, I got a job at a medical device company that specialized in devices used in Dentistry. I stayed there to keep paying the bills while I figured out my next steps. The summer after graduating, a friend gave me a book to read. It was Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. That was my first self-improvement/business book. It was fascinating.
I began reading book after book on different business topics. College was work but this is so easy. Is this how it is supposed to feel?
This spurred my curiosity and so I began asking to try different tasks at work. I would jump into thing after thing and figure it out. I would dive into something I didn’t know how to do, read and learn about it, and then figure out how to do it. I was building my confidence and some broad experience.
My employer was great. They let me keep trying new things because I had built their trust by delivering on what I said I would little by little. I found an unexpected passion in business but I didn’t know what that meant. Business is a pretty broad subject and I hadn’t figured out where I fit within it. I worked for the medical device company for 11 years, got my MBA, bought a home, and learned so much from really talented people.
- Talent: Unexpectedly, yes.
- Passion: YES!
- Opportunity: Too much!
Early on after college and reading a few business books, me and a handful of friends formed a mastermind group. A group of like-minded, driven people that hold you accountable to your goals.
Through the support of that group and the unconditional belief from my wife, I tried my hand at several different businesses.
House Flipping and Buying Duplexes: Flipped a few and bought a duplex.
- Talent: Yes.
- Passion: No.
- Opportunity: Some.
Valet Trash: Taking the trash out for residents of large student housing complexes.
- Talent: No.
- Passion: No.
- Opportunity: Yes.
Amazon Sales Business: Sourcing and drop shipping products on Amazon.
- Talent: No.
- Passion: No.
- Opportunity: Yes.
I learned a little bit about myself in every failed or abandoned venture. I invested in it. I put my own money up, read several books, listened to podcasts, met with experts, and put the time in to give each of them a real shot.
I was on to something though. I was energized by the process of learning, doing, learning, adjusting, and so on.
Investing in Apartments
These paths and lessons led me to my current venture, Rebus Capital. Essentially, we flip apartment complexes. Similar in some ways to flipping houses but the value is derived by not only renovating the complex but also running a better business and executing a business plan.
I had developed a passion for real estate. I knew that interested me.
But I had this passion for learning about a business subject. I enjoyed reading, researching, meeting with experts, and identifying the best practices and strategies to improve a piece of a business.
Commercial multifamily is a perfect marriage of those two passions.
- Talent: Yes!
- Passion: Yes!
- Opportunity: Yes!
By taking consistent action over years, my passion and talent has opened up opportunity after opportunity in this space. I am energized by it. Make no mistake, I have busted my tail for years through blood, sweat, and tears. There are definitely days and weeks when it is tough. Working for yourself is humbling and puts you on your knees praying often. But it has led me to discover my true unique ability and passion.
I enjoy learning a business subject (through reading, meeting with experts, and direct experience), distilling it to the important parts, creating a plan to implement improvements and best practices, identifying true experts, and incentivizing them to win with the concepts of the plan.
That clarity came at a price. A lot of trying new things, failing, being humiliated, and ultimately learning what I was uniquely made to do that the world had a need for. It has been an adventure with no wasted steps. Every step taught me a lesson that built on the one prior.
I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up but I am growing towards it with intent. Intent on being a good steward of the passions and talents God has blessed me with.