The Art of Selling: How McDonald’s sold me a dream twice and I had to go to Disneyland to learn to dream again? I was watching a movie on a plane ride which was about a woman who was
Rich Dad Revisited
Dated: March 18 2021
I went to visit a huge Victorian-style house located in Ditmars park part of Brooklyn, NY. A house this size starts at $1.5 million and goes up from there to as high as $3 million dollars. The median home value for a single-family house in Brooklyn is $780,000. Upon arriving, I can’t help but appreciate the beautiful tree line block where each house is artistically spaced and every house has a huge front yard leading to a front porch before reaching the door of the house. In a crowded dense area like NYC, this is not common.
When I rang the doorbell, a lady who appears to be in her middle age greeted me and invited me into the house. The house was filled with 19th Century décor with European-style furniture, artwork, and craftsmanship all over. It immediately felt like visiting the local museum of art. I toured the entire house, which has 16 rooms all with different décor inspired from the same period of 1800 European style. By all means, the house appears to be dated but yet very well maintained. I was most impressed when I saw a refurbished marble floor with plants artistically placed across the room with a fountain that resembles the Garden of Eden. Not surprisingly, Eva who is the homeowner is artistic and specializes in art recovery that is very niche, time-consuming, and costly. She recovered and designed each room by herself. She has even worked at the white house and was hired by former President Clinton to recover a room inside the white house.
When we got to the dining room, I couldn’t help but point out that it resembles the centerpiece artwork of the same room. Eva shared with me that the centerpiece has been with her since she was 19 years old when she was working in France. She was particularly obsessed with the art piece of a group of 19th Century men gathering and having supper in a dining room of the time. She was inspired to have her own dining room that she wants to provide the same essence and therefore committed her entire life to make that dream come true one day. She bought that piece of artwork that day when she was 19 and carried it for over half a decade. She is now late in her 70s.
Finally, after touring 15 rooms we arrived on the 3rd floor of the house in the front where it resides a library spreading across the entire length of the house with books shelves on every wall neatly placed and surround the bright windows of every side of the wall. Beneath my foot was a carpet brought over from Iran that spread across the middle part of the room. A study desk place on the left with an early classic lamp and the middle of the room surrounded by furniture in a comfortable U shape that is both inviting and relaxing. It was at this point that I found out that Eva studied English Literature and also teaches philosophy in the local college. She is currently writing her second book on her experience as an Iranian immigrant who traveled across the world and ended up settling for a life in America.
We sat down in one of the living rooms back downstairs. She shared with me the book and upon flipping through I was thoroughly impressed. She even shared her experience of meeting people from her country who are part of the LGBT community that didn’t exist in her country and not nearly as popular and accepting as today in the US. I also found out that both she and her husband are highly educated. Both Eva and her husband teach in a university. Eva shared with me her plans for the next 10 years. She was very realistic and accepting that she probably only has 10 more working years and decided to live it in the most fulfilled way possible which includes writing 2 more books, traveling the world, and grow her organization of dog adoption in Iran. Before the meeting ended, we concluded that her home is worth around $2 million and if she by choice sells it then she can buy any mansion for half of the price in the part of Connecticut that she plans to move to.
Two hours later during the same day after I met Eva, I arrived at a corner Subway franchise where I am meeting my client Joe who owns this commercial mixed-use building in Bay Ridge part of Brooklyn. We are meeting with him and his tenant to finalize the ending of the lease and moving on to finding another tenant. I arrived and sitting across from Joe was his tenant Sal. Sal and his family came from India and were entrepreneurial-spirited. Sal decided 10 years ago that he was going to build his own business as a means of supporting his family and fulfilling the American dream. He believes that business is the only way to go and that working, as an employee is a dead-end route. He used his life savings and started a Subway franchise, which was very popular and successful at the time. 8 years later today and it is the same entrepreneur who is sitting in front of me. This time his spirit wasn’t as high, and he wasn’t having a business meeting about expansion but one about the best way to close his business.
Subway franchise is one of the most popular franchises to start and one of the least capital-intensive franchises. After all expenses, the average Subway is expected to bring in $60-70,000 in net income to the franchisee. However, due to its low barrier to entry and high expansion across the nation, it became a very diluted franchise in a hugely saturated market. Consumer’s preference has also changed towards a more health-conscious vegan type diet. The change has been detrimental to Sal’s Subway franchise. Even a year before, Sal was already struggling to make a meaningful profit and had to fire his employees and get his family to replace them in order to cut costs. After 1 year of struggling in his stagnate business, he was too far in and had to close down the shop. Upon closing shop, Sal still owes my client Joe two months rent and had to sell some of his equipment to pay for the rent.
Sitting at the meeting was Sal and his daughter, Meg. Meg was asking Joe to please give them two weeks extension so they can gather more funds to pay of their creditors. The negotiation was a little disheartening to watch as you can see that the family was almost begging for more time and at the same time try to retain their pride and dignity. They have also disclosed that the family had to use up all their personal savings and Meg who is still in school had to take on a $40,000 personal loan to help pay off some of its business debt. The meeting ended with buyers coming in to inspect their equipment that they are selling while Meg is giving Joe their personal address as reassurance that they will pay their debt along with waving off customers who didn’t know the store permanently closed.
As I walked to the corner of the block and looked around, I found myself in deep thought as I absorb what I have experienced in the last 5 hours of the day. I stared into the night skies and thought to myself that I have met both Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad” and “Poor Dad” today. Bemused, I have lost perspective of which dad is which.
Peter began his career at a small real estate brokerage in 2009, during one of the most difficult markets in decades. While many other agents left the business, Peter decided he was going to persevere....