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Who wants to be a Millionaire? by Karen Briscoe

Originally published by Karen Briscoe on July 21,2017

Originally published by Karen Briscoe on July 21,2017

The TV game show “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” offers contestants the opportunity to win cash based on chance. There is a more certain way – create your own millions. Owning income producing real estate as an asset class is a proven means of wealth creation.

To net one million dollars after taxes actually requires an investor in the United States initially between $1.25 to $1.5 million. Let’s assume that an investor can expect to earn on average 6% annual rate of return earn on stocks, mutual funds and other such investments, before fees and taxes. That is an annual income of $60,000 which translates into $5,000 per month cash flow. Thus if one owns an asset that cash flows $5,000 per month, then it correlates that that investor is in possession of a $1m asset.

A residential real estate investor typically can purchase a single-family home with 20% down. That means the investor owns 100% of the asset with only 20% actual cash outlay. This leverage is unique in that to own 100% of a stock or mutual fund portfolio requires 100% funds. One can buy equity investments on margin but that just allows for the future purchase, not ownership. Real estate invest property leverages the payment of the mortgage by the tenant, in effect the 80% balance borrowed.

As the tenant pays down the mortgage, in most cases positive cash flow increases. At the juncture that the cash flow is $5,000/month, then the investor owns a million dollar asset. There are some rules of thumb that are best to follow and the values will vary depending on the market area. The best returns typically peak at a $500,000 asset which earns rental income of $2,500 plus/minus per month. The rental income earned ratio to the asset tends to go down as the price of the property increases. The reason being is that a larger tenant pool exists in the lower month rental amount.

It was truly an epiphany moment the day I realized that there are many ways to become a millionaire. One is to earn one million after tax dollars which then could be invested for cash flow. Another is to own assets that earn annual cash flow equivalent to one million dollars. Once one becomes a millionaire, it is natural to want to share the secrets to customers and clients who want to be millionaires, too.

There may be additional tax benefits unique to owning investment real, please be certain to consult your tax advisor.

Karen Briscoe with HBC Group at Keller Williams is an active and experienced Realtor® in the Northern Virginia market place. She works with investors, sellers, and buyers in all price ranges., 703-734-0192,

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4 iPhone Apps That Boost Productivity and Help You Stay Organized

It is hard to imagine life without an iPhone. Aside from being a communication necessity, your iPhone also helps keep your days organized through native iOS apps like Calendar, Reminders, Voice Memos and Notes.

While awesome, sometimes those just aren't enough. If you are looking for some extra help to maintain optimal organization and productivity, here are a few other iOS apps worth trying:


If you live and die by your calendar, NotePlan is for you. This new iOS and Mac app merges checklists and notes within the Calendar app so you can break down your daily tasks and have a clear view of both what you need to get done on any given day, as well as what appointments you have. Tasks and notes entered on a specific date stay there too, so NotePlan also offers a great historical snapshot of what you did on a specific day. From the main view of the app, you have the option of seeing a bigger picture of things, including your daily tasks, as well as future action items that are listed under upcoming dates.

NotePlan for iOS is currently in beta testing and available for free. The desktop Mac app is $19.99.


For people who are visual learners, traditional task lists can be pretty bland and boring, often blending together unless you take the extra time to color code them in a specific way or add doodled illustrations. But as a busy professional, who has the time to prettify their to-do lists?

Enter Clear. This app adds a visually-pleasing organizational element to task lists by color coding the highest priorities items at the top of the list in the darkest color and then gradually adjusting the colors to lighter shades as you move down the list to lower priority action items. You can choose from a variety of color-coding options to best suit your preferences.

Need to adjust an item on the list that has just become a higher priority? Simply drag and drop it at the top of the list and the color coding will automatically adjust to reflect the change. Clear is simple to use, uncluttered and completely intuitive. The desktop app is just as clean, and it's refreshing to see such a minimal aesthetic in a desktop app. For users who juggle multiple devices, like the latest iPhone 7 Plus, an iPad Pro and the newest Apple Watch, you'll also enjoy that your Clear lists sync seamlessly across all of your devices with iCloud sync.


If you wish there were a faster way to create project lists, Things is the app for you. This ultra-simple app is optimized to quickly add tasks and then tag them for easy organization. Things works with an array of keyboard shortcuts to help you make lists faster than ever.

Once an action item is created in Things, you can then either add it to a project or a time-specific list for a certain date.

For those who love the feeling of accomplishment you get from looking at all of your completed tasks, Things also offers a bonus feature called Logbook. Logbook tracks all of your completed tasks, so you can view your the list whenever you like.


If a simple checklist is all you want, Checklist+ is likely the app you have been looking for. The user interface is optimized for simplicity and easy navigation. Without the clutter, you can more easily organize your day and maximize your productivity. Checklist+ offers the capability of creating lists within lists, which is great for extra clarity and detail. Checking items off your list only requires a quick tap.



Giving First by Michael Palmisano


Four years ago, at twenty-nine years old, with zero business experience and two boys under three years old, my wife and I risked our entire life’s savings - our family house money - to start an online guitar school.  And then for 2.5 years I got almost everything wrong.  

Broke and in debt, we had to move three times and rely on family and friends for bare essentials.  We even had to sleep together in the same bed during the winter because our tiny apartment was so cold.

Today we have 70k+ students, one of the highest grossing guitar courses on the internet, major brand sponsorships, guest artist instructors, and have even had a course mentioned in Time Magazine.  Perhaps most importantly, the five of us (yes we had another boy) finally have a home of our own.

Here’s a glimpse of our struggle, and how knowing yourself and helping others made all the difference.


First off, I would like to say how excited I am to be collaborating with The Nice Guys.  Doug - or DJ Doug as he would say - and his daughter are former guitar students of mine.  They are such positive, hard working, and naturally uplifting people and I’m glad to see Doug sharing the message that he lives and breathes.  I reached out to Doug to get involved with The Nice Guys because I feel I have a compelling story of risk, struggle, and reward  - with success ultimately coming from giving first and caring - which is at the core of his message.  Of course, Doug was nice as ever and encouraged me to share.  And if this inspires to you to pick up the guitar (as I hope it does), I have included some tips and a free video to get you going. Furthermore, you can always email me at and I’ll do my best to help you in any way.  


I don’t remember not playing the guitar.  Without a doubt, I have spent the vast majority of my life chasing a singular goal: to be the best guitar player possible.

I didn’t come from a musical family, but they saw my passion and thankfully encouraged me every step of the way.  My first private lessons began in Kindergarten, and for most of my adolescent life I could be found in my room, guitar in hand.  At twenty-three I got serious and moved to Hollywood to study at GIT with some of the very best players in the world.  It was incredibly difficult, but I succeeded - even chosen by my peers to represent our class at graduation - and immediately after graduation I nailed an audition with a major record label.  They had a summer tour lined up, and I thought I had it all figured out.  

And then - seemingly overnight - iTunes and YouTube changed the music industry forever.  My peers and I watched our label gigs disappear that same spring.  I never even had a rehearsal.  It happened that quickly.

My (now) Wife was in Baltimore, and because I desperately wanted to be with her, I moved home and did what all musicians do:  Teach and gig.  

For the next seven years I taught hundreds of students, up to 50-60 a week, coached rock bands (Doug was in one), and gigged around town.  During that time I realized something critical about myself:  

I may be a good guitar player, but I’m an even better teacher - and teaching made me a better player.  THIS was my niche.

There was only one problem:  I had scaled out and couldn’t make any more money teaching.  And then a friend gave me “Crush It” by Gary Vaynerchuck and I immediately knew I had to move online to reach more people.   

Birth Of Guitargate

So - I planned the perfect product - the website I wish I had growing up: “A facebook for guitar lessons.”

It would feature a professional-grade curriculum like I found at GIT, but function as a social network, encouraging students to post videos for instructor and peer feedback.  And since I had never sold anything in my life, and my family encouraged me to complete my degree, I also went back to college full-time for business.  

Yes, you read that correctly:  Not only was I risking everything we had to start a business from scratch, but also I took out student loans to be a full-time college student, all while I was still a full time teacher, a full-time gigging musician, and a full-time husband and father of 2 non school aged children.  My Wife was also a special ed teacher and ran a skin-care business of her own.  

Hiring a firm for the site development, my main job was to create the content to fill this amazing new site:

It was a massive, 60 level, 10+ hour, all HD, multi-angle with pro audio video course.  I was the on-screen instructor and my brother-in-law manned the camera. It also featured 100+ jam tracks and 400+ images and documents.  I played all of the MIDI instruments, did all of the writing, all of the image editing.

12 months and our life savings later, I was ready to launch this incredible product that I was beyond proud of.  I thought selling would be the easy part. - because after all - who else could or would put that kind of time and money into the product??

We Lost Money For 18 Consecutive Months

Pouring every extra dollar we earned from gigging and teaching back into the company, I read every marketing book and blog known to man, took sales course after sales course, and lived and breathed Adwords and FB Ad Manager trying to make my LCV higher than my user acquisition cost.  

I finished my business degree 2nd in my class, placed in three nationwide collegiate whitepaper competitions along the way (won one), and I won our university’s entrepreneurial competition which included free office space and interns for a year.  My band was even voted “best band” in Baltimore Magazine 3 years in a row.  

I was working hard, smart, and succeeding in all my endeavors except one: Guitargate was going bankrupt.  Almost 3 years in I knew my business model was broken, and I was in complete despair.

Doubling Down On Risk - And Myself

And then I had my boldest, craziest idea yet.  The exact opposite of what I’ve been doing:  Let’s make the site completely free.  

The plan was to film a new 60 lesson course - but for complete beginners - and offer brands the opportunity to feature their products in the videos in exchange for co-promotion (I was long out of advertising money).  To hopefully make money, we would simply offer these free students a coupon to buy our masterclass at a discount (which we moved to a 3rd party course marketplace called Udemy.)

This was also when we moved for the 3rd time in 2.5 years to an old mouse-filled apartment with no insulation that backed to a train track.  We maxed out the last credit card.  

And we were having another baby.

And what did I do?  

I spent all day and night giving lessons to people without expecting or asking for anything in return.  I responded thoughtfully and consistently to every email, every video, every comment, and helped any way I could - all for free.  I talked to hundreds of guitar players a day and gave honest, professional advice and encouragement. Day after day, month after month, and now year after year.

I simply provided a link to the masterclass, explained that it picks up after the free beginner lessons, and let students know that that’s how I support Guitargate.  No ads, no email campaigns, no landing page A/B testing, nothing salesy at all.

And do you know what happened?

Within 12 months we had generated 40k+ students, $30k+ /mo in sales, and secured PRS Guitars (the 3rd largest guitar maker in the US) as our first corporate sponsor.

I could go on for hours about why, but it came down to two main points:

1.  I didn’t really know what my product was

2.  My customers didn’t know what they were buying

The Moral Of The Story

I was the product.  It was me - the good player and great teacher - not the amazing expensive website that took a year to build.

Making Guitargate free allowed people to get to know me and get value from my skill set before being asked for a credit card number.  They liked learning from me, and they bought my higher level content because they knew the value of it.

It’s that simple.

I gave first.

In that spirit, here’s a list of common questions the beginner guitarists ask and a video to help you get started.  I hope you find it useful, and if I can help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to email

Beginner Lesson

  1. Am I too old? - NO WAY!  Even if you are 80 years old, you can absolutely learn to play the guitar if you try. If you start slow, give yourself reasonable goals, and have fun, you can do this.

  2. Are my hands / fingers too small? - NO WAY!  I have small hands. Some of the best guitarist that ever lived had small hands.  Look at Django Reinhardt - he only had 2 fingers and many people feel he is the best to have ever lived! Moral of the story = you can do this :)

  3. I don’t have much time to practice - is this a waste of my time? - Absolutely Not.  Actually, especially as a beginner, you don’t need that much time to practice… you just need to practice frequently. Learning a discipline is all about repetition, not duration.  15 minutes a day is better than 30 min every other day. You will not be practicing for hours and hours in the beginning, so it’s important to realize that regular practice is the key - not practicing for a long period of time.

  4. What should I expect realistically? - You get out what you put in.  I know this is obvious, but many people struggle with this simple concept. It is related to the previous question on practice time - if you practice every day for even 5 minutes, you should start seeing results on a weekly basis. And that’s fantastic.  If you practice an hour at a time, but only once every 7-10 days, it’s going to take you at least 1-2 times as long to progress.  Yes, of course, some people are more naturally suited to playing for a variety of reasons, but it’s quite simple: if you practice regularly, you will see regular and consistent progress!



A Tale of Two Choices...which are you? by Bruce Waller

A tale of two choices…

I was recently reflecting on my daughter’s college selection process and it reminded me how closely aligned it is with a candidate that is trying to select a company to work for, or when a leader is considering an employee for a promotion, or even when a company is selecting a vendor to partner with. It’s all about perception…

Several years ago after high school graduation, my daughter had decided to visit two universities as she continued her college education. She was planning to be a nutritional science major and was excited about the journey ahead. So she set up a college tour with each school which were both major universities and I was fascinated by the difference with each visit.
When we visited the first college, it was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and the weather was about 75 degrees. It was amazing. We went in to register for the orientation and found our group for the tour. The tour guide was a student at the university. He was smiling, upbeat, positive, and passionate about his school. As we walked around, he would share his stories about the different areas on campus that he enjoyed and how much fun others have from the student union, to the rec center, to game days. He was engaging and connected with his group during the tour. He was proud of his school and transferred these feelings to students taking the tour. When we left, my daughter was feeling pretty good about the college but said she was keeping her options open as she still had another college to tour before she made a decision.

When we went to visit the second college, it was a cool morning with an overcast as rain was in the forecast. We went to the orientation meeting, then met with our group for the campus tour. The tour guide was also a student, but this guide was much different than the first college we toured. He was not very engaging, and didn’t really have much energy. When asked about certain areas, he didn’t really engage with the group other than share what each place was, not the experience. When we walked by the football field, we thought it might be cool to check it out, but he said it was off limits. I thought he missed a great opportunity to share game day stories, or something to let others know what it would be like as a student. By the end of the tour, my daughter turned to me and said that she really didn’t need to think about it because she had made her decision to attend first college we visited. I was proud of her for going through the process and making her own decision.

So what made the difference? Perception… Both universities were great places to get a college education, but being positive and sharing experiences with others to help them feel what it would be like to be part of the journey made the difference. It doesn’t matter if you are in customer service or operations, or work in HR and payroll. Positive passionate people that learn how to connect, ask questions, and build a relationship will get the promotion and elevate your company every time.

Call to action: Are you the tour guide for college #1 or #2? Ask someone you know this week for feedback to see what changes you need to make to elevate for impact. You will be glad you did and it could also mean big promotions ahead as well. It’s a great start to finding your lane for impact.

This has been “A Relocation Minute” on “a tale of two choices” with Bruce Waller, for more information on relocation resources, call 972-389-5673, or email Follow me on Twitter too!