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Robert Helms & Russ Gray: Learning How To Invest In Real Estate

What goes on during the Summit At Sea
Monday, January 1, 2018, 10:09 AM

In this final podcast of 2017, Chris sits down with Robert Helms and Russell Gray, better known as The Real Estate Radio Guys. They run one of (if not the most) popular podcasts on real estate investing.

Chris and I got to know Robert and Russ well during this year's Summit At Sea, their week-long investing seminar, at which Peak Prosperity received a featured spot among the faculty. It was a pretty amazing experience, both in terms of the knowledge exchanged as well as the personal access to speakers like Simon Black, Douglas Duncan (chief economist of Fannie Mae), Peter Schiff, Robert Kiyosaki, Brien Lundin, and other notables.

As things gear up for the 2018 Summit At Sea (April 6-15th), Robert and Russ explain what participants can expect from this year's experience, which will include extensive guidance on the implications for investors (real estate and otherwise) resulting from the passage of the first major tax overhaul since 1986. Those interested in learning more about the Summit At Sea can click here.

The fact that it's more difficult to learn to invest in real estate than the stock market is actually a benefit, because what it does is it separates you. Real estate is not a perfect market. The stock market is essentially a perfect market. Yes, there's certainly some insider trading that happens, but it’s not supposed to -- it’s illegal. In real estate, insider trading is exactly what makes the market the market it is. When you have knowledge of a market demographic or a product type that somebody else doesn’t, because you’re more diligent and more studious and better connected, then that gives you an advantage.

And so, the fact that it takes some time means that the folks that are willing to put that time in are going to be more serious about it. It’s an investment of time. As investors we want to see a return on anything we spend our money on, so education shouldn’t cost you money -- rather, it should make you money.The lifestyle that you create from the things that you learn, and then putting those things into action, can be extraordinary.

We look at real estate as the ultimate asset. As they say, they’re not making any more land. And as Mark Twain said, "Don’t wait to buy real estate. Buy real estate... and wait". Over time, there will be more demand for land -- and not just from a housing perspective, but agriculturally and commercially. There are so many different uses for it. And of course, hard assets like gold, silver, and oil all come out of the land -- and we’re big believers in those, too. 

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with The Real Estate Guys (Russell Gray and Robert Helms) (44m:21s).


Chris Martenson: Welcome, everyone to this Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host, Chris Martenson. It is December 26, 2017 and this is the very last featured voice podcast of 2017. I wanted it to be a special one. Many of you are listening to this while you are either on break from work or with your extended family or both. I had a really sweet, very special Christmas with my family this year and I no longer take these peaceful, safe moments of deep contentment for granted. I mean, who knows what tomorrow is going to bring, right?

Nobody knows, except we know one thing; there’s going to be change. Whatever the special configuration we’re sharing this holiday, it’s only certain that next year is going to be different. Everybody is going to be a year older. Events will have happened. Nobody is going to be exactly the same. So, happy holidays to everyone and Adam and I would like to wish everyone a very special new year.

Okay. Now, what makes this such a special podcast for me is our guests. As you all know, I’m not exactly in the business of telling people what they want to hear. I’m really in the business of telling them what they need to hear. Sometimes this resonates with what they already know, so it’s received as a confirmation that oddly in many cases can be comforting in its own way. Other times, what I have to say is jarring and it can be experienced as uncomfortable or challenging if not disturbing by some people, at least at first, which is why I especially value people who are willing to step outside of their own comfort zones and risk having Adam and I bring our message to their personal networks.

I mean, that’s a moment of real trust and nobody has done that more graciously and with arms held more wide open than Robert Hounds and Russell Gray, today’s guests. They are the hosts of the Real Estate Radio Guys, a real estate investing talk program for investors that’s been running since 1997. Over many years they’ve carefully nurtured their most prized asset into an extraordinary network of contacts and connections. They value the people around them.

Both Robert and Russ have many decades of real estate investing experience between them and they absolutely – I’m going to use this word carefully – love to share that experience with other people. Welcome Robert. Welcome Russ. Great to have you on the program.

Robert Helms: Hey, Chris. Thanks so much and happy holidays to you.

Russell Gray Hi, Chris. Thanks for having us.

Chris Martenson: Well, let me start here. Last year you invited Adam and myself to participate in your Summit at Sea and that was our first time in participating. I didn’t know what to expect. I showed up and people were wearing necklaces with chili peppers around them. I didn’t know what that meant. I was a complete neophyte. For those of you listening who may not know, the Summit at Sea is a nine-day long experience on a cruise ship. Its two-thirds intensive learning and one-third serious play time that runs deep into each night or maybe early morning I should say.

The first two days are on land and the learning begins right away, like big conference room and everybody seated, and on that very first day – right near the very tippy-top of the entire program – Adam and I were given an extraordinary introduction by Robert and Russ and given a very generous amount of time so that people could be exposed to us and our ideas as early as possible to maximize their ability to interface with both the ideas and Adam and myself personally.

Guys, the way we were introduced and the billing you gave us really meant a lot to me in all the ways I’ve described and some I have not. So, thank you for that.

Robert Helms: Chris, you bet. You know, one of the things that we do at the summit is we want to expose people to different ways of thinking and to different perspectives. We’ve been fans of your work for a long time and you and Adam aren’t out there saying what everybody else is saying. What you’re saying is important and we felt that not only do we want our audience to hear it and for it to jar them a little bit and be a wake-up call, but also, as you mentioned early in the process of spending this week-plus together, we always try to get our newer faculty members near the front so people understand where you’re coming from and why.

You guys, of course, did a great job at explaining that and giving them some real food for thought to chew on. They didn’t just have the afternoon to chew on it. They had the whole rest of the week.

Chris Martenson: Russ, do you have anything to add to that?

Russell Gray: I just really appreciate the opportunity to have people bring their best ideas and their “A” game and I really felt like you and Adam did that. The reason we do the summit the way we do it is because it’s one thing to listen. It’s not like these ideas aren’t out there in cyberspace. People can listen to podcasts. They can watch YouTube videos. They can read books. It’s a one-way absorption of information and you get some, but the processing that you get when you get a chance to engage in conversation, that’s really the environment we seek to create.

So again, by getting you guys out there early so people could see you and hear the ideas and then get comfortable with you and then spend the next eight days getting to know you and talking to each other, as well as you and the different questions that people ask, it’s a dynamic and it’s an environment you just can’t get. Maybe we’re old school, but we’re still big believers in getting together in a live environment. It’s great to learn digitally, but we think you’ve got to augment that with some real world connections and processing.

Chris Martenson: Well, you know I’m a quick learner eventually and one of the things I really came away from – and I talk about the Summit at Sea all the time – because I encountered ideas there that really transformed me. I’d not thought about real estate in the ways that it had been presented, but to be there with people who experienced it, had done it and what I loved was you didn’t just ask people to come up and say; just tell us all the home runs you hit. You wanted to hear about the six times in a row they walked off the plate with nothing because we learn as much from what doesn’t work as what does work. Welcome to being an entrepreneur.

I really felt like I was getting real exposure to real ideas from real people who put them in practice. It wasn’t just this theoretical; hey, if you follow this model you’ll be rich in 20 days. I mean this was on-the-ground, real investing ideas that really changed me. What I came away from was that it felt like our audiences are similar in the sense that my audience, if I can use one word, I would say they’re curious. Right? Everything is just up for learning. We’re a learning organization ourselves. You’re a learning organization, so it felt like a really great match, but this was one of the few conferences that I’ve gone to where I came away with many more ideas than I walked in with.

That was really special to me, so Robert and Russ do just a fantastic job of lining up great faculty and then putting everybody into a container where there’s a lot of opportunity for interaction. So, that was great for me.

Robert Helms: You know, Chris it’s interesting. The cruise ship thing is really not what it’s about. We don’t really audit our cruise. It’s our summit, but it’s a Summit at Sea and what being on the ship does is that it creates this whole environment where there’s a lot of things to do and there’s a lot of fun to be had, but you’re not on your cell phone all the time because it’s $3.00 a minute. You’re not locked on the internet because it’s painfully slow. Instead, you’re almost forced to be interacting personally with people and because you’re getting great ideas from the front of the room and then you have this awesome time over meals and cocktails and at the beach to discuss these ideas; we tell people it’s not a vacation but it’s an amazing amount of fun.

It’s because of what you hit on, the learning part of it. We don’t just put people on stage that are great orators. Oh, we’ve got some wonderful presenters like Tom Hopkins and Peter Schipf, but at the same time a lot of the folks who are faculty are people that are just really good at what they do and they’re doing it in the real world as opposed to people that are off selling courses and programs. There’s nothing wrong with that. We learn that way and we love to learn that way, but when you put people in front of the room who are humble enough to share their challenges and failures, I mean let’s face it; you can learn a ton from failure if you’ll get the lesson.

Chris Martenson: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, I’ll tell you one of my favorite moments. I have many favorite moments, but one that just sort of popped up here was at dinner every night, which was one of those great moments to park it with some of the faculty and you did a great job distributing faculty around to all of the different tables. One of the evenings, it turned out that I was at the same table as G. Edward Griffin, the author from Creature from Jekyll Island and his lovely wife. Our rocking conversation was extraordinary and by the end we had all these other people gathered around and we were kicked out by the staff because we were the last table in a very large place that was probably serving 1,000 people.

It was a huge restaurant and with the conversation, we didn’t know where to draw it to a close. It continued the next day, so it was that kind of interface that was really good for me. It turns out that that was where I learned the most for myself. That’s my process. I like to sit down, talk with people, ask them a lot of questions, and find out where they’re at. And so, that was just a magic moment for me.

Russell Gray: If I could jump in for a moment, Chris. I think that you’ve just hit on something that is so key because a big part of the mission of the summit is to create those conversations. When you can get two big brains like yourself and G. Edward Griffin going, it attracts the curious people like moths to a flame. It doesn’t surprise me that people would hover around. I mean that story that you told has been going on … we’ve done it for 15 years now and we came onto the 15th annual and we’ve got the 16th annual coming up next April.

The challenge for us is to create an environment that’s intellectually stimulating for our faculty. There’s no way we could afford to hire the caliber and quantity of the faculty that we have. It just would cost too much. The event would be prohibitively expensive. It’s not cheap as it is, which means you’re hanging out with great quality people, but it would be ridiculous if we were having to write gigantic checks. So, we have to create an environment that is attractive to people like yourself where you’ll say; you know what? I’m here not just because I want to share but because I want to learn because this is intellectually stimulating.

Robert Kiasocki has come back year after year for that reason. Peter Schiff, year after year and G. Edward Griffin; we have so many great people that come and they come back with their ideas. And so, this notion that you talked about – that you and Adam talked about – the social capital; we didn’t really recognize that concept coming out of 2008. We hadn’t heard of you yet, but we took our lumps in the real estate industry in 2008 and coming out of that we realized that we really needed a stronger network, a smarter network, and we went to work on that.

The summit was our number one tool to do that and it’s really exceeded all of our expectations. It’s just been crazy for not only how it’s helped us build a social network that’s powerful – and we feel very confident going into whatever the future may hold, good, bad, or ugly – and we feel like with our network of people we’re going to get good perspectives and great ideas and access to resources and the ability to make good decisions and navigate the changing landscape well.

We’ve also created an environment where the people who attend get that as well because it’s like going to summer camp. People show up and they kind of don’t know each other. I mean it’s kind of a reunion every year for a core group of the people that come year in and year out. But for a lot of people who are coming for the very first time, they come in a little apprehensive and maybe even a little bit like you were your first time. And then, after you’ve gone through it you’ve got best friends forever all over the planet and really smart, accomplished people.

So, that’s a big, big part of the value proposition for both the people who attend, for us, and for faculty members like yourself.

Chris Martenson: Russ, well said. It’s an experience Adam and I have when we run our seminars. One of the key values for the people is just the other people who show up. Honestly, we could host this whole thing and get laryngitis and people would still have a great time and get a lot out of it. For me, you’re absolutely right. I am still in connection with people I met on that cruise. We’ve been talking about possible business deals through emails and thinking things through.

I’ll tell you how it impacted me personally; I’ve been looking at real estate very differently. I’ve looked at probably 70 properties over the past three or four months. I don’t think it’s quite the right time to get in, but I’ve been running the spreadsheets and starting to figure stuff out. You two graciously granted me a copy of your book Equity Happens. It’s a fantastic book, by the way; I have my son reading it right now. And so, just beginning to get familiar with all this because of the overlap here is that Adam and I talk about how if you have all of your money in tertiary wealth or you have all your wealth expressed in dollars, derivatives, paper, and all that stuff, you’re exposed.

We think people should have their money in primary and secondary wealth. That would be gold, silver, real estate, tangible assets, and all the things that Kiasocki is a big believer in and you guys as well. And so, the thing that we tell people though is that that’s easy to say. It’s harder to do because Wall Street has made it easy to press a button and get your money into Wall Street. That’s easy. Right-click, done. Oops, I bought some Facebook shares. But to do real estate or to do local investing or to be an entrepreneur is harder. You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and do your due diligence.

There’s a process for that, so for me it was really valuable to meet people who had done it and had been there and there are all of these different ideas out there. Many of my listeners no longer believe in sending their money to Wall Street. They think it’s either a big scam or at least it’s a system that only seems to reliably enrich Wall Street by some odd, 100-year plus coincidence, but they want to get their money into real stuff. They don’t know where and how to get started with that.

Russ, you mentioned that 2008 was kind of an expensive moment. I’m going to call that tuition, so yes the Summit at Sea is a fairly expensive proposition for some people, given that it happens on a cruise line and guess what? Cruises cost money, but when you consider the alternative of how you’re going to get exposed to these ideas and how you’re going to begin the process of getting away from having all of your money in Wall Street and out here into the real world, to me I no longer know how to put it into a really appropriate dollar value on the kind of learning that you two are exposing people to.

Russell Gray: When you think about what an idea is worth or what a relationship is worth; access to an opportunity and a chance to collaborate – we do a lot of syndicating where people invest together – and that way you can go do bigger deals and you bring extra brain power to the project. There are some J.B.’s that you do as an investor and these are the types of things that you really don’t do in a Wall Street scenario. Where you go to get access to the people and the ideas to build a relationship and trust is hard to do, but we spend a lot of our time not only sharing ideas but sharing people and creating environments where people can get to know each other.

You know no business gets done. It’s not about that. It’s about just setting the foundation to have an opportunity to go forward and so it’s great when we follow up and hear months later as you’re sharing that; hey, I’m still in touch with people and we’re talking about doing things together. I mean that’s what it’s about. That’s really what business is all about and I think that a lot of this, the way that Wall Street has evolved to make it almost clinical, sterile, and inhuman has really … when people are doing business with other people, people I think generally are good. People care about other people, but when someone is just an account number or they’re just a blip on a computer screen it’s easy to abuse that.

I think that maybe people go into that paper jungle feeling human, but I don’t know that they can stay human for very long in there. There’s big numbers and it’s just nameless and faceless. I’m not a fan. I’m a much bigger fan of people doing business. I call it Main Street investing or investing with Main Street. I think that’s the way it should be. That’s the way it was designed to be and I think it’s just a lot more pleasant and a lot more profitable when it’s done that way.

To your point, Chris it’s not easy to do. That’s why we do what we do to create those environments that facilitate that.

Chris Martenson: Absolutely. Robert, do you have anything to add to that?

Robert Helms: Well, I think the fact that it is more difficult to learn to invest in real estate is actually a benefit because what it does is it separates you and it’s not a perfect market. The stock market is essentially a perfect market. I mean there are certainly some insider trading that happens, but it’s not supposed to. It’s illegal. In real estate, insider trading is exactly what makes the market the market it is. When you have knowledge of a market demographic or a product type that somebody else doesn’t because you’re more diligent and more studious and better connected, then that gives you an advantage.

And so, the fact that it takes some time means that the folks that are willing to put that time in are going to be more serious about it. It’s an investment of time and I think that’s kind of one of the themes here. We talk about what things cost, but as investors we want to see a return on anything we spend money on and education shouldn’t cost you money. It should make you money, whether it’s directly or not. The lifestyle that you create from the things that you learn and putting those things into action can be extraordinary.

We look at real estate as the ultimate asset. They say they’re not making any more land and Mark Twain said don’t wait to buy real estate. Buy real estate at weight. Over time, there is demand for land not just from a housing perspective, but agriculturally. I mean, there are so many different uses of real estate. Gold, silver, and oil all come out of the land and so we’re big believers in what we call real assets.

You hit that pretty well. I mean, you guys are obviously going by that same songbook, but a big part of real estate investing is getting connected. It’s not just what you know. It’s who you know.

Chris Martenson: Absolutely. One of the things people hear about real estate investing is that it can be sort of a cartoonish word for people who haven’t been exposed to it. Oh, real estate? That’s buildings, right? What I was exposed to last year were all of the different niches. There are all of these different ways to participate in it. One way was through residential assisted living and we had Gene Greeno on my program a while back to expose people to that idea. I first met Gene on the Summit at Sea, and it’s a great idea. It’s a real win/win. There are three wins in this, so I think there are a lot of ways for that to really be doing good and making money while doing that.

As well recently, you two have exposed me to the idea of how you can have that same sort of an approach to an investment property that happens to also be your vacation property. That’s just a fantastic idea, so there are lots of different ways to participate in this. I think you guys have just done a great job of bringing people in who can show all these different niches. Here are all of the different ways to participate.

So, that was a real eye-opener for me and I continue to look forward to how I can learn more about all of that because a diversified portfolio, let’s face it; what an uncertain world. Robert, if you could take that education shouldn’t cost you and it should make you money, if you could take that to some colleges … you’d be doing a real service.

Robert Helms: Well, it’s what you do with the education that matters. That’s the thing. You go get an education for a reason. Robert Kiasocki talks a lot about that and how the whole idea of getting an education is so that you can get a good job so you can make a good living and all that. Well, it’s a whole new world. The change that you started talking about in the program that’s occurring daily with you and Adam is not lost on us. This is an ever-changing world from every level. We know in real estate that the long-term prognosis for real estate is great. People will need and demand land and what land can do; from housing to commercial to agricultural and on up.

But, it’s not going to happen without some work. That’s where I think people bristle away. You talked about the ease of investing in the stock market. It is easy, but just because it’s easy doesn’t make it the right thing to do. My mentor, Jim Roan, used to say that the definition of easy is something you can do. And so, real estate investing is easy. It’s something you can do. You just need to be committed to the process. To your point, we love to expose our listeners and a lot of folks to different ideas.

If I’m a single-family home investor, that’s great. Get rich in the niche and all that and get really good at it, but you might as well also look at other angles of real estate investment because who knows? The market changes. We can’t make investment decisions based on the same assumptions that we have today. I think nobody points that out better than you and Adam; that we cannot rely on today’s rules being the rules going forward. The neat thing about real estate is that you can move around within it. You can diversify within real estate the same way of the traditional diversification model. Of course, the difference is that you’re investing in a real, tangible asset.

Chris Martenson: Now, you just mentioned a really important, hot topic. Here we are – and I don’t want to put you guys on the spot because this only happened a little over a week ago – but the tax code just got changed enormously. Obviously, it’s got a lot of implications across all different sorts of classes. Will this be an area that people can learn more about on the Summit at Sea this year?

Robert Helms: Yes. I think part of what we’ll be looking at it is that. I know that Russ, you’ve had your mind around this for quite a while leading up to the potential changes in the tax code?

Russell Gray: Well, any time there’s change you know we look back at the last major tax reform in 1986 and on the heels of that we had the collapse of the savings and loan. The reasons people were investing in real estate at the time were for the losses against their active income. When they lost those losses, they quit investing and all the money came out. All of the savings and loans that had made loans against those properties were upside down and you had financial crisis 101. It wasn’t too dissimilar from what happened in 2008 when the bond market crashed and took the mortgage-backed securities with it.

It may have been the other way around, but the point is that when people are running the numbers, obviously they do the math and the math will tell you what to do. Part of that calculation is the tax ramifications. So, you’re looking at the S.A.L.T. thing, the state and local tax being lost and you think of a place like California and California has got a high income tax. All of a sudden you can’t write that off. Do you think some people from California might be looking to move to Nevada or maybe even out to Arizona, where they still have some income tax but not as much.

I think so. I think you’re going to see some people – high net-worth people that can work from anywhere – decide that it’s time to make a move. So, we’re going to be watching for those things. The great news is unlike the paper market, where someone can have a panic attack and hit the cell button and crash a market, or you can bet on things in the future market and manipulate pricing – I mean look at what’s happened to bitcoin since it ended up on futures, which is a whole different discussion – but you can’t do that with real estate. Real estate moves very slowly because of the nature of the beast and the logistics.

You can’t mass-buy it. You can’t mass-sell it. You’ve got people and businesses occupying it. They don’t just move in and out, you know, in a nanosecond, so because of that we can watch these trends develop. We can get together and have conversations with smart people who are looking at it from all of the different angles and then talk about what moves can we be making to anticipate the macro trend? Where is money going? Where are people going to move away from and where are they going to move into as a result of the tax code? And so, those are the kinds of discussions that are perfect to have on the Summit at Sea.

You have people who are expert in all of these different things and by then they will have had three or four months to really have thought about it. They’ll have their best ideas, so yes it’s absolutely going to be a topic of discussion. That’s the value of having a strong social network. When you have that, and you have people who are studying what you’re into and they’re looking at it from their angles and different angles and you get together and share ideas, you get a 360 faster.

Most people are going to figure it out. In fact, we just published a newsletter on that exact topic, but the great ones figure it out early. So, the key is that if you want to be great at anything is how can you figure it out faster? To me, you’ve just got to hang around a lot of other brains and work on the problem, compare notes, and compress timeframes to figure out how to make your moves quicker.

So, in the summit there’s going to be a lot of discussion about that. We’re also going to be talking about the new faces on the Fed, the future of money and wealth, obviously the meteoric rise of bitcoin in 2017, and of course the topic that we did that call on with Brian London, what’s going on with oil and gold and China’s moves and all those politics surrounding the dollar. There’s a lot to talk about in 2018. The tax code is just one more thing, but yeah we’re going to be talking about all of that stuff.

Chris Martenson: Fantastic. I’m just going to put a quick plug in here for anybody listening. Sunday, January 7 at noon Eastern, Adam and I are going to be putting on a webinar about bitcoin and we have one of our own resident experts who’s going to be holding that with our own emigres or Mark from the site. I mean, he made a ton. He called it early. He’s very knowledgeable, so that’s going to be obviously a topic of discussion. This is a real game-changer potentially, so figuring this out early and fast, as you mentioned Russ, that’s really important.

So, hey Adam and I are thinking – we’re not thinking of it; we both plan to be there at this next Summit at Sea – so, for anybody thinking about this, this is a chance to spend nine days with Adam and myself, which is seven too many, but hey you’ve got to buy the whole package. Who else is going to be on the faculty this year that you know about?

Robert Helms: We’ve got Robert Kiasocki coming back, which we’re very excited about. Peter Schiff is coming back. G. Edward Griffin is coming back. Chris Martenson and Adam Taggart are coming back, which we’re very excited about. We have – gosh, I’m trying to think of who else – we’ve got a couple of newbies. It’s a dynamic where we’re constantly recruiting. We don’t always end up … you know Simon Black, from Sovereign Man is coming back and we have some new folks that we’re working on that I don’t think we’re at liberty to share yet. But we’re probably going to have at least one or two people that we’ve never had before and that’s going to be exciting.

You know, it’s a challenge. It’s like herding cats. These people are super-busy and it’s a huge time commitment, but somehow some way we always manage to get … Brian London, who does the New Orleans Investment Conference is coming back. You mentioned Gene Greeno. He’ll be with us and several of our other real estate faculty members who are experts in their respective niches, they’re all going to be with us, so it’s a lot of brain power. Last year we sailed with 200 people and I think we had about 100 to 120 people re-up before we even got off the ship, so we have a lot of people coming back that are experienced Summit-eers and so they break the ice and keep the conversations going. So, there’s going to be a lot of great discussions and a lot of great topics and of course with what’s going on in the world a lot of great subject matter to cover.

Chris Martenson: There will be plenty to talk about, of course, and one of the things I loved was discovering that so many of you play instruments. So, when I say party hard into the night, there was the band, who were really just people from the cruise. It was really an amazing thing. I’m going to have to dust my old axe off and talk to you guys about a set list offline for a minute so I know at least a couple of chords on a couple of these things, so yeah I was really impressed with the ethic all the way around, from the learning to the playing. It was a great mix, really great.

Robert Helms: You know it’s live together, study together, play together, hang out, and getting to know people on a real level. It’s got to be fun, right? If learning is not fun, then you don’t want to do it. It’s like when you go to hear a boring lecture. You may be really interested in the topic, but struggling to stay awake because of the delivery. We think that if you’re not laughing you’re not learning. You’ve got to get around folks and it makes it real. It connects those dots. Instead of just hearing something in the abstract, they have a conversation at dinner and say; hey, what did you think about what Chris Martenson said today? If someone has an epiphany, that could be as meaningful as hearing the stuff yourself.

And then, you get out in the environments that are fun at night and the band plays and there are shows around the ship and all that kind of stuff. Well, that lets people let their guard down a little bit and start to get into a heart-to-heart connection, which is so important. You know I think there’s a lot today that people can do to hide away from the world. They can sit and watch the webinars and watch the digital content and listen to the podcasts, which are all things you should do, but if you stop there then you miss that real human connection.

We talked about that the last time we had you on our show, Chris, and how important that social capital aspect is. I think you guys do an amazing job of explaining the many forms of capital. Coming into your work, we were very focused on the one form of capital, economic capital, which you spend a lot of time on and even that is a bigger picture than everyone thinks. But there’s so much more to life and the richness of life and getting around people that are as passionate – they may not be interested in exactly the same things – but they’re as passionate to be better, have more, do more, and make a bigger dent in the world. That’s the cool part of getting together with a great group of folks that are committed.

Chris Martenson: Absolutely.

Russell Gray: Let me just add on one thing really quickly, too because I think this is important. A lot of people think it’s about information. I mean we live in the information age and information is everywhere and it’s coming at us all the time. People are hungry for information, but information is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s really wisdom. Wisdom you learn through life experience and hopefully shared life experiences and then if it’s the right kind of information and wisdom, then that leads to transformation.

So, you’re no longer the same as you were. It’s about change, positive change. It’s about taking information and then applying it wisely into taking action that makes a difference, a tangible difference, in your life and in the world. And so, if you think about culture and how you learned to speak your native language and the cultural attitudes that you have and the way you think about life and your morality; all of that was learned in an environment. It wasn’t learned in a book. It was learned by being around people that spoke the language and that lived the values.

When people are wanting to make a change, and they say; I want to learn how to invest a different way. I want to become part of a different kind of community. I want to learn how to think and feel and behave and process the way people who are successful in this space do. The only way you’re going to be able to do it is to spend time. It’s just like in college or in high school when you’re taking a foreign language. You learn in the classroom and you’re doing whatever you’re doing, but if you can go spend time – say you’re learning to speak Spanish – and you can go spend time in Mexico or Spain and live there for a week, you’re going to learn more in that week about that culture and how to really speak that language than in a whole year of college class or textbooks and drills and flash cards.

That’s really what the summit is. The summit is a transformational experience because you put yourself in an environment with people who speak a language and process the world a certain way, and who are taking action and making a difference in their lives and in the world because of the types of investing that they do. You’ve experienced it, Chris because you’ve seen it. You know what it’s like to be around. The hardest thing Robert and I have every year, try as we may, we try to over-promote this thing. We try to tell people how great it is, how awesome it is, and how they’ll never be the same. And yet, at the end of every summit we send out the surveys and everybody says it’s even better than I thought. It surprised me to the upside.

You guys didn’t really promote it well enough. So, we’re at a loss. We don’t know how to tell people what it is. It’s not about information. It’s about transformation. It’s about culture. It’s about becoming part of a community and for the people who do it and come back year after year, they become part of a global fraternity of people that are committed to succeeding in this space come what may. You and I both know that there’s a lot of “come what may” coming.

Chris Martenson: Absolutely. That’s very well said. You know Adam and I struggle with the same thing, which is we don’t quite know how to bill our own seminars except if I could grab people by the lapels I would say; just come and you will be transformed by this in ways that are very positive. I felt at home right away. You guys built an incredible container. If anybody is thinking ever, who’s listening to this, that you want to maybe become an emcee and learn how to host or conduct a seminar, you have to come just to see Robert onstage. Robert, it’s almost as though I’m going to tell people to come and watch Babe Ruth if they want to learn how to swing a bat because you’re that good. You really are.

Robert Helms: Well, thank you for that. You know getting people together is the crux of this thing. When disparate people come together and they’re not sure and maybe they have something in common because they were told about the event by a faculty member or an attendee or our podcast and then they come here and they’re still unsure, the soon as we can create community the better. I think a big part of my job at the summit is to pull people together in a way that it doesn’t feel forced and doesn’t feel weird. You’re not standing up and high-fiving five neighbors. All of that stuff can be fun, but having this camaraderie that starts soon …

Russ made the comparison to summer camp, but if you remember summer camp right you came as strangers and you left as friends crying that you’re not going to see each other. That’s really what happens at the summit. We don’t want it to be day eight when you feel that way. We want it to be right out of the gate. It’s also punctuation. For Robert Kiasocki it’s going to be his fifth year and typically, that’s a hard guy to get. I mean he’s a bestselling financial author in the history of the earth. He doesn’t do a lot of live seminars anymore and when he does, it’s for 10,000, 20,000, or 30,000 people. To get him for a week is pretty rare.

As Russ said, it’s not because we’re writing a big check. He comes because he wants to be there as a student and in spite of the fact that he’s there, he only gets a couple of hours onstage because we have so many other great perspectives. He’s not there to teach. He’s there to learn. He loves to teach, and he’s happy to teach, but he’s there to learn. He gets as much out of it – and he’s shared this with us again and again since we just spent three days with him last week – and he’s all about getting people together to talk about real issues. There are different perspectives and different vantage points.

You know it’s been said that when two people think exactly alike, that one is unnecessary. Not as a person, but in the conversation and we have a lot of like-mindedness but we also have a lot of diversity, which is what I think makes it great. The way that you can punctuate that, the emcee part of it, is just that you’re drawing out the best somebody has in 45 minutes to an hour or an hour and 15 minutes and then encouraging the folks by the environment we create to get in there and mix it up and talk about it and discuss it and make what you just heard your own.

Chris Martenson: Very well said, but you do; you do just a fantastic job of creating that container and again, this is less about being on a cruise ship. That creates its own sort of container as it will, but it’s really almost unnecessary except for the destination. Last year we shipped out of Galveston and out across the Gulf of Mexico and went to Belize. Adam and I unfortunately had to hop off early in Honduras and Roatan and fly back to do our own seminar. This year, where is the cruise going?

Robert Helms: This year we’ll leave out of Fort Lauderdale and we’ve got a great hotel. We’re spending two full days on land before we get on the ship the third day. That’s because we’ve got some big stuff planned. It’s probably the biggest and best faculty we’ve ever had in 16 years. We’re super-excited about that. Some of the names we can’t share with you yet, but we will tell you that it’s going to be worth your time and money to come. Even just those two days are going to be extraordinary. We’ve got panels, we’ve got great stuff planned, and then from there we always pick an itinerary that has at least three sea days so that that’s when we do the classes and the seminars. We hold what we call round tables, which are small group discussions.

We have a lot of fun, and then we pick port days and the three ports this year are; San Juan, Puerto Rico – obviously San Juan has been in the news; there has been a lot that’s been going on there and a couple of our faculty members have residences in Puerto Rico – so, we’re looking to understand the advantages to that marketplace, but also some of the challenges they’ve had. Are there ways that real estate investors can help solve some of those challenges? We’ll also go to St. Thomas, which is a great port in the Caribbean. We’ll be at St. Martin. There’s still a lot of damage from the hurricanes.

What we typically do is we pick one of our port days where we do some sort of group, fun activity. It’s totally optional, but generally most people do it. We have a beach party or we have catamaran sailing or snorkeling or something fun. Again, we’re making it social, but we’re making it fun. We’ll pick one port where we do an optional real estate tour excursion and that’s likely to be Puerto Rico in 2018. The other port days you’ll be on your own just to have fun and go see and explore or maybe just take a day off to be in the spa or whatever you want to. But we always pick cool ports and the ship is beautiful. It’s a great ship and we’ve been on the Celebrity line a couple of times.

We don’t always go on the same cruise line. Really, for us it’s more about the timing and itinerary and fitting it into how the summit portion of it works because it is less about the cruise, but your hotel does move around to some pretty cool places, so there’s a lot of the fun and the variety of seeing different parts of the world.

Especially as real estate investors we love to open people’s eyes as to the fact that you don’t have to invest next door to your home. You can invest all over the world and you can come see that up close and personal by the very fact that the summit moves from place to place.

Chris Martenson: Fantastic. And Russ, if people who are now interested and they’d like to find out more and they’d like to sign up for this, where do they go?

Russell Gray: I think the easiest thing is that if they want to send an email to [email protected], then we can send them the information. That’s the easiest way and we’ll just send a reply.

Chris Martenson: Well, good. We’ll have a link to that directly below this in the comments section linked to this podcast so people can find that easily. If you’re listening, just look below. You can click there and Russ will get right back to you I’m sure.

So hey, I’m really looking forward to this. I really can’t wait and I’m one of those people who would be filling out that survey response saying; I got more out of this than I thought. I really didn’t know what to expect, but it really exceeded my expectations. I still talk about it, and most importantly I just have a really good feeling about it. I look back on it fondly. There were no glitch points, which is great. Most importantly, I think it was something you said, Robert. It’s that these are my people. We didn’t all care about the same things, but these are people who are doing things and they care. They care maybe about different things, but they were all very active, very successful, and very engaged and curious.

So really, it was just such an honor to be invited and to discover that; oh, here’s a whole other tribe that’s kind of like my tribe and we share a lot of similarities and it was great to have those pieces sort of interface. So, I’m sure that anybody whose part of my tribe would really … I’ll almost make this a guarantee. You’re going to love the tribe that these guys put together. So, Robert and Russ, thank you; A. For inviting Adam and myself; B. For doing this; and C. For really it’s a question of your approach and that you really are out there to help people and help people improve their own lives and help people do things I think in a constructive way, a really helpful way.

It’s not about the money. It’s about how you go about conducting yourself. Guess what; if you do that well, money follows, which is my model. So again, thank you so much for all the things you’re doing and for the invitations you’ve extended and the gracious way you’ve embraced Adam and myself. I’m really honored.

Robert Helms: Well, we can’t wait to have you – Chris and Adam – back with us because you added so much to the summit. I’ll tell you what; our tribe digs you guys. It’s going to be great to have you back with a little bit more time this time. You know also, if someone is on the fence about it, you can get the information, send the email and you could read the testimonials and find out what other people thought. I think you’ll come to the conclusion that this is the place you’ll want to be.

Russell Gray: Yes. You know Chris, you used the word tribe and if you really think about it, an economy is really just a collection of tribes that do business together and that share. It doesn’t have to be monetary. It can be intellectual. We can share ideas. We can share resources. We can share opportunities, and of course maybe we’ll do some business together, too. It all starts with getting to know each other. It all starts with being part of a community, and so we really appreciate folks like you and Adam that are out there and that are part of a community of people that see things in the future looking out at the horizon and are sounding the warning bells.

You know maybe they’re not alarmists; it’s not like it’s the end of the world, but the world is changing. That’s a given. The world always changes. The key to success is being part of a tribe, being part of a community of people that are committed to navigating the changing circumstances successfully. And so, we love how you are contributing to that. We love the fact that you’re willing to participate in our event and we look forward to doing more stuff together with you in the future in continuing to grow the tribe and take advantage of the opportunities that we have together in the future.

So, thank you so much.

Chris Martenson: You’re most welcome, and thank you, gentlemen both for taking time on the day after Christmas to record this. I really appreciate that and appreciate your time and I really am looking forward to seeing you both in April. Thank you so much for your time today.

Robert Helms: Thanks, Chris. Happy New Year.

Russell Gray: Thanks, Chris. Happy New Year.

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