In your business, there are going to be times that you simply don't feel like getting up and doing
real estate... PERIOD.
Then, there are going to be other times that you have a heart to heart conversation with the person
staring back at you in the mirror. It might go something like this:
"What are you doing? Did you REALLY think you could do this? Maybe you should cut your losses
and try something else..."
This conversation could go on for minutes, hours or even days at a time. And trust me, these
conversations WILL HAPPEN from time to time if you're in the business long enough (in any
business for that matter).
I remember back about 4 years ago... I was sitting on my couch perched under my front window. I had
just discovered that I'd had 5 break ins in 3 days on 2 out my 3 properties. Yep... that's right.
I felt like laughing and crying all at the same time. I looked out the window, up and down the
street and thought to myself, "What the heck have you gotten yourself into?" I just wanted a way out.
I wanted to quit and go get a job waiting tables.
But, what made the difference? How did I get past that point and ultimately skyrocket from it?
It was 3 fold: Decision, Persistence, and Planning.
I'll talk to you a little more about decision and planning in the next couple days (it'll all make
sense in a couple of days, trust me :-))
But for now... let's talk about how we can persist when things get tough. Here are 5 Tips to get you
First, you need to close all doors behind you. There is no longer any back door; any "way out".
Commit to this business and commit to giving it everything that you have. You see, if you give it
every effort - every REAL effort.
So many times, we stick our big toe in the water and decide it's not for us or it doesn't work.
Jump in as if you're out in the middle of the ocean and you need to get yourself back to the
shore... no life rope... no floatation device...
Your only option is to learn to swim - and do it fast. Now, I'm not suggestion quit your job if you
are using it to pay your bills, but I a suggesting that you STOP looking for the new magic pill.
That is committment and it's going all in. It is no longer a matter of "if I can do real estate".
It becomes a matter of "when" and "how". (The good news is this... with a short time of hard work,
you'll be free to go and explore new opportunities with the confidence that you CAN do it)
A good friend of mine, Armand Morin, says that "success leaves traces". I believe failure does too!
So why not become successful rather than fail!
Next, you need to plaster your "WHY" all over the place. I know you've heard it 1000 times before,
but have you done it? Can you see, touch, taste, hear and smell the reasons that you are doing
this? If not, when the going gets tough, you'll quit going!
Start living the life you want to have on a small scale. If your dream is more time with your kids,
build in an extra hour each week NOW and start experiencing it. It will keep you going. If your
why is to travel, start taking one day trips once a month. They don't have to cost a lot, but
they let you experience what it's like to start living the way you want to.
Stop what you are doing and WRITE OUT YOUR GOALS. Do this before January 1st. Do it now! You need
to know where you're going if you're going to get there. Now, don't sit here at your computer and
jot them down in notepad.
Get a real notebook out. Grab your favorite pen and go to a quiet area and WRITE. Something happens
when you take the time to write out your goals. Then, make a dozen copies of your goals and keep
them with you. Maybe even make your goals your screensaver on your computer. Never let them leave
your side and read them every day.
Set your "real estate" hours. It doesn't matter what you have on your plate (job, family, other
businesses,etc.). You need to block time out for your real estate business. It may be 10-12 every
day or it may be 6pm-8pm every night. But it is important you do it consistently.
Use this time to write your marketing letters, to call potential sellers, to follow up on deals, to
do what it takes to get the leads coming in. This eliminates excuses. You have it set on your
schedule. You don't think about it. Nothing gets in the way to allow you to make your excuses. And
let's face it, 99% of the reason you're not where you want to be is an excuse. Sure, it may be
disguised as a valid reason, but rest assured there are only a few things that are REAL reasons you're
not as successful as you could be.
Think about it...
You haven't taken the time to learn how to do the business WITHOUT your own money. I didn't have two
nickels to rub together when I got started
Make it. If you can tell me that you don't have 2 hours/day (12 hours/week that you can dig up), you
don't want to. If you're letting your kids be your excuse for not having time, you're looking at it
the wrong way! Teach your kids the entreprenuerial mindset. Involve them and build it together.
See... it's all how you look at it and if you really want it bad enough.
The list can go on and on, but 99% of the time, there is a solution. For that 1% of the time that
there is not, I understand. And you need to take the time to deal with those life challenges. And
in my opinion, even those life challenges can be excuses sometimes.
Build your support team. I am NOT suggesting to call all your friends and family here. These may NOT be
the right people. In fact, when I was starting, I had a partner and we had our best friend over the
house. She literally looked us square in the eye and asked, "Do you REALLY think anyone's going to take
YOU TWO seriously?"
The sad thing is that she thought she was HELPING us and keeping us from getting crushed.
So, sometimes, you need to step outside of your sphere and find new people that share the same ideas,
values and enthusiasm that you have.
I look back to my everyday circle of influence when I started and compare it to my circle of influence
now and it's not made up of one single person that was there back then. This is possibly the hardest
part of the business! Letting go of the old to make room for the new.
The good news is that the people I made room for are like an extended family that spans all over the
United States and beyond. I couldn't hand pick better people. These are people that I met by
going to seminars, workshops, and events and networking with people all over. From these groups,
we've build mastermind teams that get together once a week.
This keeps you going... it keeps you upbeat and motivated to press on. It keeps you focused. Here's
what you do:
- What have you done in the last 7 days for your business?
- What is holding you back or what do you need help on to take the next steps?
- What are you going to do between now and the next time you get together?
This works the very best if you have a coach facilitating the process with your mastermind team,
but can be done with just a group of people as well.
It holds you accountable to someone other than yourself and forces you to stick with it.
So, take today and focus yourself. Write down your goals, make a committment to your business in the
new year, and start looking for a coach and a mastermind team to get you to the next level.
I've had many mentors in my businesses and have paid 10s of 1000s of dollars (no exaggeration) to
build relationships. In fact, several years ago, I spent $16,000 without even knowing what all was
involved, but I knew I wanted the relationship and the team that was being developed. I committed to
that aspect of my business and have seen my return 10 fold and it's still growing.
In fact, some of the people I met as a result of that investment are now partners of mine in
6-figure companies with huge potential.
Tomorrow, I want to discuss "planning" with you.We're at the end of a year, just days away from the
new year and if you've not gotten your plan set up, what are you waiting for?
So again, take today and get the big rocks planned so that tomorrow we can start planning!
Yours in Success,
Heather Seitz is a licensed Realtor® in the state of Florida. Heather
specializes in working with investors, golf communities and old Spanish
Reproduced with permission.
Sunday, December 31, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Here are some quotes to note:
"So greatness isn't handed to anyone; it requires a lot of hard work."
"Instead, it's all about how you do what you're already doing - you create the practice in your work, which requires a few critical changes. The first is going at any task with a new goal: Instead of merely trying to get it done, you aim to get better at it."
"Again, research shows that this difference in mental approach is vital. For example, when amateur singers take a singing lesson, they experience it as fun, a release of tension. But for professional singers, it's the opposite: They increase their concentration and focus on improving their performance during the lesson. Same activity, different mindset."
"Through the whole process, one of your goals is to build what the researchers call "mental models of your business" - pictures of how the elements fit together and influence one another. The more you work on it, the larger your mental models will become and the better your performance will grow."
"Do it regularly, not sporadically."
"... the striking, liberating news is that greatness isn't reserved for a preordained few. It is available to you and to everyone."
Friday, September 29, 2006
Monday, September 11, 2006
Click here to view my pics
You can view more grassroots photos about September 11, 2001 by going to:
Here is New York: A Democracy of Photos
Here is an interview with our ex Mayor - Rudy Giuliani remembering on the 5th Year Anniversary of 9-11
Click here to see the interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News
Hey thanks Dave. Five years later and the emotion is still there. I
remember standing in front of the towers in awe the first time I was
ever in NYC. Awesome pics -- captured the spirit that was there.
David S. - Buffalo, NY
Nancy - Long Island, NY
Dave -- Thanks for sharing your photos with members of the Power Team. In 2001, I was working for Good Morning America and had the opportunity to do a number of stories relating to the tragedy -- the work of the volunteers at Ground Zero, the families of police officers and firefighters who lost their lives, memorial ceremonies for the airline flight crews, and so on -- such a sad time, but also somehow inspiring to see so many people (formerly strangers) pulling together and helping one another through this unimaginable situation.
Tom M - Ridgefield, CT
Nice pictures. You got some cool ones of the Tribute of Light. Thanks for
Erin s - Brooklyn, NY
Thanks for the pics...they were moving.
Your day at Ground Zero must have filled with emotions, sights and sounds.
Howard C - Queens, NY
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
They say Education is Power but is America getting more Powerful?
Ben Chavis, principal of an alternative school in Oakland, CA
Monday, June 12, 2006
In my case, I have been defrauded by various "friends" and also "contractors" who can get me a great price. Even then I have talked to various people who said they can do something and afterwords when I confronted them about their credentials they say, "you either take it or leave it". I left it.
Just this morning my friend from the west coast is leaving the country after an incident in which his group lost the capital of the investment group. They lost the money to a "dealmaker" who was giving them a great discount on some assets.
There is much to be said about trusting people. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, treating them with respect, and creating value for others. What is least talked about is how to insure your interests in things.
I spoke to an investor in California. I asked her does she invest her money with other investment groups. With a quick answer she said - NO! She shared with me a story of how a guy was taking money from a fund of investors. She instead will do her own deals and make them work.
Like Warren Buffet mentions, do not diversify but instead take on the responsibility of investing on what you know and watch the basket of eggs like a hawk! Yet even the best hawks got swindled.
Suffice to say I can go on and on on some of the various scams I have personally seen and heard in my circles but here are some best practices when investing:
1. KNOW WHO YOU ARE INVESTING WITH. How long have they been doing this? What is an example of their project? Do you feel comfortable with them? Are they putting money up in the first few projects to show how confident they are in the deals? Any references?
2. CHECK THE REFERENCES. After I lost money last year to people who promised certain things and didn't perform. I started checking the licenses and information about the companies that are investors. I check the personal references as well as professional ones. I even check the city and state if possible. Kiyosaki mentions that each dollar is an employee so is each investment manager. I take time to interview them. Remember to take time to hire and quick to fire!
3. KNOW WHAT YOU ARE INVESTING IN. Of course if you don't know, ask for information. With the bigger companies it is called a prospectus. With smaller companies ask for brocehures or talk to the principal of the company to understand what they are doing.
4. INVEST ACCORDING TO YOUR PLAN (Note: If you don't have a plan - MAKE ONE!). When I invested with a "friend", I understood what they were doing and trusted that they knew also. I put in only several thousand dollars to see if they would be able to produce. They were not. My plan was not to invest over a flat amount. I stayed with it and took a small loss. I am able to handle it and move on. Others were not as fortunate and are proceeding with ligitation.
5. MEASURE THE RISK AND REWARD (KNOW YOUR #'s). In the above scenario, I calculated 100% return on investment as the reward and a risk of 0% if it failed. I was able to handle the #s as concided with my philosophy of investing and also my risk tolerance. Playing the cashflow board game has been invaluable in simplying the #s and also the strategies.
6. WHAT IS YOUR EXIT STRATEGY? Every investment has an exit strategy. If you don't have one then you will find it a mess. Find out when you can take out money and when you can't. Put a time cost on it and then move on. This is another major reason why newbies investors fail. They don't know their exit.
7. SCREW THEM OVER. One of my friends came up to me and asked me for my opinion. He was telling me he was doing a new construction from his single home to two homes in Staten Island. After some discussion, he found out that the contractor forged his signature and took a draw from the bank without him noticing. Immediately I said, "how much?" He told me, "oh about $150K, what do you think I should do?". I said, "GO AFTER HIM RIGHT NOW! Don't waste your time. Anyone stealing from me is a crook. GO!". My friend said he wanted to wait for the contractor to finish some stuff that is left before reporting him. Basically give him some chances.
I looked at him and was baffled and shared my experience. It is not only a trust issue but business wise every time I wait I am losing money. In addition, if someone steals once they will steal again.
Now I believe in trust, love, patience, etc... I truly have generous spirit and faith in people. Yet, working in the real estate field there are quite a few they don't play that way. They are instead selfish and consider only their desires without regards to others. I know in life we do break the rules in order to fulfill a deeper need like breaking the speed limit on the highway to drive a spouse to the hospital for labor, etc... Yet in these cases, there are people who only care about themselves. In this way I say, "SCREW THEM". Is it an eye for an eye? Yeap but sometimes God uses people to effect a lesson. God works in mysterious ways. Sometimes God uses us.
Ok these should be some guidelines. If you have any feel free to post and let me know.
Enjoy your day!
Monday, May 22, 2006
It seems so simple yet books and courses can be written about how important these skills are. Without them the business doesn't even start and is dead. I am currently using the SalesDogs (www.salesdogs.com ) training materials by Blair Singer to start off improving my communication skills. I am also reading the book The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino to create a better positive self image to sell better.
Lastly I have been fortunate enough to enroll 5 other cashflow members in joining with me on how to sell. We have committed to meeting 4 sequential weekdays to practice on this. It is exciting!
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
However, here is MY Top 10 list of things a newbie should do to get started in this business:
1) Read EVERYTHING available to you that is free at the library about Creative Real Estate investing, even if the book is old.
2) Read AS MUCH AS YOU CAN while drinking coffee at Barnes & Noble. Buy what interests you and you can afford.
3) Find and join a local (or as local as you can get) Real Estate Investment Club. Look at http://www.nationalreia.com/ to help find one.
4) Call every one of the "We Buy Houses" ads in you local newspapers and talk to the investor. Offer to buy him/her lunch for 30-60 minutes of their time while you pick their brain and explain your current situation.
5) Do an in depth analysis of your current and short term (1 year) financial situation. You need to know a) how much cash you have available immediately to help you find and close deals. This is money that you DO NOT NEED to help pay your bills or feed your face. What is your borrowing capacity, ie Credit score, non-liquid assets that have equity to use as collateral, etc.
6) Using what you have learned above, cultivate relationships with one or two mortgage brokers, bankers, real estate agents.
7) Start a basic business plan targeting only one or two areas of investing, it rehabs, wholesales, flips, subject to's, whatever floats your boat. You'll know what these mean after you do steps 1-4.
My advice to newbies that don't have great credit and large cash reserves: start by flipping (wholesaling). This is where you get a property under contract and "flip" or assign it to another investor.
Advantages: Fast payday, little risk, gets you in the game while you learn more.
Get Bill Bronchick's course "Flipping". It has everything you need to get started. How to do the business, some marketing ideas, all the contracts and forms you'll need. Other than Flipping, make sure you spend significant time on your exit strategies - this is where you realize the profit. Have this in place. Are you going to be a long term hold landlord, or a 3 months rehab and sell flipper, or a wholesaler that never takes title, or.... You get the picture. While you make your profit when you buy, you don't realize it until you sell.
8) Develope a marketing plan. Of all 10 items I list, this is one of the most important. You can spend all kinds of time learning about creative real estate and
how to structure deals, but if you can't find a deal, you are just swimming in acedemia. It must be a 2-sided plan. First part on how to FIND deals, Part Two on Exit Strategy Marketing.
I suggest Ben Innes-Ker's course, "Motivated Seller Magnet". It is inexpensive, and contains truly valuable materials so you don't have to start from scratch, especially if you don't have a marketing degree.
9) Start calling and visiting prospective sellers. Don't worry about making mistakes. Learn from them. If you think you've got a hot one, call on one or more
of your new friends from Step 6.
10) Do your first Deal! Now your hooked like a meth addict. Welcome to the Club.
Helping Homeowners in Central Oklahoma
STOP FORECLOSURE / SAVE YOUR HOME / SAVE YOUR CREDIT
We Pay CASH for Referrals!!
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
I was going through the various websites and I caught this one:
This is authored by Donald Mitchell of the 2000% Solution and other published materials. The website details the Mastermind which is international and building a billion dollar business idea. I wrote to him briefly and he seems to be an open person who has some interesting ideas. I am looking to see what his expertise is on building a world class billion dollar business. Despite all the get quick rich schemes I find that building a billion dollar business does require good business entrepreneurial accumen. If anyone has any comments please let me know. It is a good read to expand one's horizons.
Monday, March 27, 2006
It is so true to get people motivated and willing to work. It comes from within first.
"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it."
Two Myths About Leadership
By Michael Masterson
Did you know that the average age of the people who write for Forbes, Fortune, Business Week, and The Wall Street Journal is something like 29 years old?
Don't get me wrong. I read these publications. And I understand the necessity of hiring young, inexperienced writers. But because I have been on the inside of the business-publishing world, I'm skeptical about what I read in the business press ... and especially so about advice that is given.
Such is the case with the advice I read about leadership. For the most part, the ideas seem wrong to me. They don't correspond to anything I've experienced myself, and they don't equate with practices I've seen as a consultant to business owners.
It's not a conspiracy. It's the process that's the problem. I know how secondhand information works. It gets misunderstood, oversimplified, and distorted. And if that's not bad enough, it also gets cleaned up, edited, prettified. Not, in the latter case, by the writers, but by the experts who are being interviewed. (When asked about the secret to his success, what business leader wouldn't want to give motivating credit to his troops?)
Good business writers know how to recognize an interesting idea and present it in a clear, convincing manner. That is good - so long as the idea itself is good. But if the idea is wrong ... then the good writing only serves to waste your time (or do you harm).
There are a lot of myths about leadership floating around out there. And if you take those myths as truth, you can seriously damage your business. Let's take a closer look at two of them, find out why they're wrong ... and what techniques the REAL leaders use.
MYTH #1: "Soft" Leadership Skills Work
I once read an article in which a spokesman for Office Team, a business consulting firm, said "If companies want to be successful in the future, they'll have to adopt soft leadership skills." By this, he meant that you should be listening to your employees, sharing feelings with them, and keeping an open mind "to all kinds of ideas - even bad ones."
If you don't learn these soft skills, the consultancy says, you will be in trouble. Because these softer skills will soon "completely replace the older, harder skills of planning, persuasion, and discipline." Office Team says: "The future office environment won't allow for command-and-control focused management style. Employees want to contribute to decisions and offer creative solutions."
This sort of thinking completely contradicts my own experience. From what I've seen, most employees want leadership. And leadership to them means that someone else solves the problems and tells them what to do about them.
As a leader in your business, you are earning big bucks to do the hard thinking, to make the tough decisions, and to get the job done - even if that means pushing the weight uphill. Yes, you should be open to new ideas. Yes, you should talk to the rank-and-file workers. Yes, you should pay attention to your employees. But the big decisions about where to go and what to make and how to solve the company's problems are ultimately yours.
This requires vision, knowledge, skill, and (most certainly) good ideas. But even more important is an understanding of how to get people to embrace your ideas and work to achieve them ... even in the face of criticism and adversity.
So how do you do it? By making the work worthwhile.
For a perfect example, look to some of the great religious leaders of history. From Jesus Christ to Gandhi, these leaders were able to persuade large groups of people to do all kinds of great and difficult work, merely by creating the idea that the work itself was good. (Yes, there may have been some bribing going on there - the promise of heaven, and all that. But I can't imagine that so many people would have made so many sacrifices without believing that the work itself was worthwhile.)
MYTH #2 "Allowing participation is more important than sharing your vision."
This myth is another gem gleaned from an article in a prestigious business publication. The premise seems to be that, when it comes to setting goals, leaders should focus on fostering and improving employee participation rather than on creating a plan for better business.
That is just silly. Utterly silly. But it was a serious recommendation offered up in sober language by some earnest young writer quoting from some ex-tough-guy businessperson who wanted to sugarcoat his career.
Back here in the real world ... a leader can delegate a great deal of responsibility if he surrounds himself with good people. But the one thing he can never delegate is the job of establishing goals and creating a vision. Unless, that is, he wants to cease being a leader.
Dreaming about what your business can accomplish, thinking about how far it can go and how great it can be, is the most important job you can do. If you are a leader, now or in the future, you must spend much of your spare time doing that.
Yes, you can ask questions. Yes, you can seek advice. But when it comes down to deciding where you want your business to go and what you want it to achieve, you've got to do it yourself. Then ... you've got to share your vision.
It is not easy to inspire work. Those who can have one thing in common: They have a keen ability to create and communicate a compelling vision. This is essential for effective leadership. Most real authorities on leadership recognize this. You can be fairly limited in other intellectual qualities but strong in audacity and the ability to communicate a picture - and still be a successful leader. (Ronald Reagan proved that, didn't he?)
The same can be said for leaders of social causes. When ordinary citizens work tirelessly to respond to a crisis or natural disaster, they do so not for any of the normal reasons that employees work. They do it because they feel that they are compelled by a vision. They feel engaged in a worthwhile process.
Think about religion today. All those apostles you see at airports. Why do they work like that? Why do they submit themselves to that kind of indignity? It's not for the money; they get none. And it's not for public approval; they get the opposite. They shave their heads, put on robes, and spend countless hours begging ... because they believe that what they are doing is good. It's as simple - and as powerful - as that.
To be a great leader, you have to:
• Spend time thinking about how you can make things better.
• Make people believe in the goodness of your ideas.
If you can do both of these things, your employees will gladly work for you. They will beg for you. They will fight for you. And in extreme cases (not that this is something you'd hope for), they may even die for you.
To become a leader is to become powerful and important. To become a leader is to put yourself in a position of authority and influence. To become a leader is a responsibility and a privilege. It can change your life faster and further than just about anything else you can learn to do. And the way to do that is to create a compelling, worthwhile vision and inspire your employees to follow through with the work itself.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Otherwise this is another tool to use in doing your due diligence for the valuation of how much your property is worth fully renovated.
For more info:
Zillow unveils real-time home values service
Zillow Goes Live -- Too Soon?
Saturday, January 14, 2006
What I have learned is:
* How to recongnize a good or bad deal.
* What is an asset and what is a liability.
* How to read a basic financial statement.
* How abundant the opportunities are out there to create wealth.
* How to communicate with others to joint venture or negotiate favorable terms.
* When to leverage and when not to leverage.
* What are some of the challenges I have to attain wealth.
There are many more insights that I have learned and implement in real life as I take some of the principles and apply to real life and back to the game. I have played well over a hundred games and I learn about myself and others through it. I have also played with people who are advanced in real life and proceed to continue to learn through it.
In addition, I have hosted the game many times as I am self fulfilled when sharing my knowledge to others. I have many times found people say how interesting or something they didn't realize or how much they learned when playing when I am hosting / teaching. Right now I don't have as much time to do it and also I am aiming to build a stronger foundation and core to the group so I collaborated with another member to systematize the hosting. It should be very interesting work.
If you haven't yet I suggest you purchase the game and begin to learn about yourself and how to build wealth.
Friday January 20, 2006 Cashflow Session
Something to share about yesterday's meeting.
The last few months we have received a sporadic few people who are inconsistent in coming to play the cashflow games. I believe it is due to the energy that the group has dwindled to. Inconsistent focus and commitment to one's inner truth.
The core members have been discussing changing the group dynamics with the possibilty of closing the group to other newcomers and making it into a MASTERMIND or investment club to enable the core members to focus on improving each other. In addtion, we have various other cashflow groups that just play the game just to play it without regards to implementing the philosophy in real life and other larger groups that are doing it in real life.
So yesterday we didn't see a large turn out of people so we were going to move forward and discuss about how to actualize our dreams in real life with tangible action steps.
In less than a few minutes, 3 newcomers joined us. 2 of which said they were creating an investment club and saw we were playing the game (they played frequently on the egame and several times on the board game). 1 came once and that was a few months ago.
Fast forward after 2.5 hrs and the reactions are: "wow", "I never saw that before", "I have to come back", "This is great", "There is so much information that I am overwhelmed in a good way", etc....
The newcomers were glad that there were people who were generous to be open and give back to others.
A few things at random that floated in my mind:
* It is good to give back to the community. I always felt that it is possibly ego driven but I enjoy sharing what I know.
* The hosting system that we created needs more tweaking but we will have a hosting system tweaked out in the next few weeks.
* Keeping the group open gives new blood and to feel that wonder of seeing the game new is fun.
* We are growing our brothers and sisters in life. I totally respect others who are serious about their lives and want to live to the fullest.
* Not all are ready to embark on the journey as many have said they will come but they don't come.
* Be inspired by ourselves first. This will enroll and inspire others.
Chicago Tribune 1/17/2006 (you may need to register for free on this site)
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Persons of the YearBy NANCY GIBBS
Posted Monday, Dec. 19, 2005
These are not the people you expect to come to the rescue. Rock stars are designed to be shiny, shallow creatures, furloughed from reality for all time. Billionaires are even more removed, nestled atop fantastic wealth where they never again have to place their own calls or defrost dinner or fly commercial. So Bono spends several thousand dollars at a restaurant for a nice Pinot Noir, and Bill Gates, the great predator of the Internet age, has a trampoline room in his $100 million house. It makes you think that if these guys can decide to make it their mission to save the world, partner with people they would never otherwise meet, care about causes that are not sexy or dignified in the ways that celebrities normally require, then no one really has a good excuse anymore for just staying on the sidelines and watching.
Such is the nature of Bono's fame that just about everyone in the world wants to meet him--except for the richest man in the world, who thought it would be a waste of time. "World health is immensely complicated," says Gates, recalling that first encounter in 2002. "It doesn't really boil down to a 'Let's be nice' analysis. So I thought a meeting wouldn't be all that valuable."
It took about three minutes with Bono for Gates to change his mind. Bill and his wife Melinda, another computer nerd turned poverty warrior, love facts and data with a tenderness most people reserve for their children, and Bono was hurling metrics across the table as fast as they could keep up. "He was every bit the geek that we are," says Gates Foundation chief Patty Stonesifer, who helped broker that first summit. "He just happens to be a geek who is a fantastic musician."
And so another alliance was born: unlikely, unsentimental, hard nosed, clear eyed and dead set on driving poverty into history. The rocker's job is to be raucous, grab our attention. The engineers' job is to make things work. 2005 is the year they turned the corner, when Bono charmed and bullied and morally blackmailed the leaders of the world's richest countries into forgiving $40 billion in debt owed by the poorest; now those countries can spend the money on health and schools rather than interest payments--and have no more excuses for not doing so. The Gateses, having built the world's biggest charity, with a $29 billion endowment, spent the year giving more money away faster than anyone ever has, including nearly half a billion dollars for the Grand Challenges, in which they asked the very best brains in the world how they would solve a huge problem, like inventing a vaccine that needs no needles and no refrigeration, if they had the money to do it.
It would be easy to watch the alliance in action and imagine the division of labor: head and heart, business and culture; one side brings the money, the other side the buzz. But like many great teams, this one is more than the sum of its symbols. Apart from his music stardom, Bono is a busy capitalist (he's a named partner in a $2 billion private equity firm), moves in political circles like a very charming shark, aptly named his organization DATA (debt, AIDS, trade, Africa) to capture both the breadth of his ambitions and the depth of his research. Meanwhile, you could watch Bill and Melinda coolly calculate how many lives will be saved by each billion they spend and miss how impassioned they are about the suffering they have seen. "He's changing the world twice," says Bono of Bill. "And the second act for Bill Gates may be the one that history regards more."
For being shrewd about doing good, for rewiring politics and re-engineering justice, for making mercy smarter and hope strategic and then daring the rest of us to follow, Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono are TIME's Persons of the Year.
As it happens, they have arrived at the right time, as America stirs itself awake from the dreamy indifference with which the world's poor have forever been treated. In ordinary times, we give when it's easy: a gesture, a reflex, a salve to conscience. The entreaties come on late-night TV from well-meaning but long-discarded celebrities who cuddle with big-eyed children and appeal to pity and guilt. Maybe we send off a check, hope it will help someone somewhere stay alive for another day. That is not the model for the current crusaders or the message for these extraordinary times.
This was already a year that redefined generosity. Americans gave more money to tsunami relief, more than $1.6 billion, than to any overseas mission ever before. The Hurricane Season from Hell brought another outpouring of money and time and water bottles and socks and coats and offers of refuge, some $2.7 billion so far. The public failure of government to manage disaster became the political story of the year. But the private response of individuals, from every last lemonade stand to every mitten drive, is the human story of 2005.
"Katrina created one tragedy and revealed another," Melinda Gates said in a speech after the hurricane. "We have to address the inequities that were not created by the hurricanes but exposed by them. We have to ensure that people have the opportunity to make the most of their lives." That just about captures the larger mission she and her husband have embraced. In the poorest countries, every day is as deadly as a hurricane. Malaria kills two African children a minute, round the clock. In that minute a woman dies from complications during pregnancy, nine people get infected with HIV, three people die of TB. A vast host of aid workers and agencies and national governments and international organizations have struggled for years to get ahead of the problem but often fell behind. The task was too big, too complicated. There was no one in charge, no consensus about what to do first and never enough money to do it. In Muslim parts of Ethiopia, aid workers can't talk to teenage girls about condoms to prevent AIDS; but in Tanzania they're encouraged to. How you cut an umbilical cord can determine whether a baby risks a fatal infection, but every culture has its own traditions. They cut with a coin for luck in Nepal and a stone in Bolivia, where they think if you use a razor blade the child will grow up to be a thief. There is no one solution to fit all countries, and so the model the Gates Foundation and Bono have embraced pulls in everyone, at every level. Think globally. Act carefully. Prove what works. Then use whatever levers you have to get it done.
The challenge of "stupid poverty"--the people who die for want of a $2 pill because they live on $1 a day--was enough to draw Gates away from Microsoft years before he intended to shift his focus from making money to giving it away. He and Melinda looked around and recognized a systems failure. "Those lives were being treated as if they weren't valuable," Gates told FORTUNE in 2002. "Well, when you have the resources that could make a very big impact, you can't just say to yourself, 'O.K., when I'm 60, I'll get around to that. Stand by.'"
There have always been rich and famous people who feel the call to "give back," which is where big marble buildings and opera houses come from. But Bill and Melinda didn't set out to win any prizes--or friends. "They've gone into international health," says Paul Farmer, a public-health pioneer, "and said, 'What, are you guys kidding? Is this the best you can do?'" Gates' standards are shaping the charitable marketplace as he has the software universe. "He wants to know where every penny goes," says Bono, whose DATA got off the ground with a Gates Foundation grant. "Not because those pennies mean so much to him, but because he's demanding efficiency." His rigor has been a blessing to everyone--not least of all Bono, who was at particular risk of not being taken seriously, just another guilty white guy pestering people for more money without focusing on where it goes. "When an Irish rock star starts talking about it, people go, yeah, you're paid to be indulged and have these ideas," Bono says. "But when Bill Gates says you can fix malaria in 10 years, they know he's done a few spreadsheets."
The Gates commitment acts as a catalyst. They needed the drug companies to come on board, and the major health agencies, the churches, the universities and a whole generation of politicians who were raised to believe that foreign aid was about as politically sexy as postal reform. And that is where Bono's campaign comes in. He goes to churches and talks of Christ and the lepers, citing exactly how many passages of Scripture ("2,103") deal with taking care of the poor; he sits in a corporate boardroom and talks about the role of aid in reviving the U.S. brand. He gets Pat Robertson and Susan Sarandon to do a commercial together for his ONE campaign to "Make Poverty History." Then he heads to Washington, where he stops by a meeting of House Democrats to nuzzle them about debt relief before a private lunch with President George W. Bush, whom he praises for tripling aid to Africa over the past four years. Everyone from Republican Senator Rick Santorum to Hillary Clinton used Bono's October concert as a fund raiser. "He knows how to get people to follow him," Stonesifer says. "We are probably a good complement. We're more likely to give you four facts about the disease than four ways that you can go do something about it."
Bono grasps that politicians don't much like being yelled at by activists who tell them no matter what they do, it's not enough. Bono knows it's never enough, but he also knows how to say so in a way that doesn't leave his audience feeling helpless. He invites everyone into the game, in a way that makes them think they are missing something if they hold back. "After so many years in Washington," says retired Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, whom Bono recruited to his cause, "I had met enough well-known people to quickly figure out who was genuine and who was there for show. I knew as soon as I met Bono that he was genuine. He has absolutely nothing to gain personally as a result of his work. In fact, he has opened himself to criticism because he has been willing to work with anyone to find help for these children who have taken his heart."
This is not about pity. It's more about passion. Pity sees suffering and wants to ease the pain; passion sees injustice and wants to settle the score. Pity implores the powerful to pay attention; passion warns them about what will happen if they don't. The risk of pity is that it kills with kindness; the promise of passion is that it builds on the hope that the poor are fully capable of helping themselves if given the chance. In 2005 the world's poor needed no more condolences; they needed people to get interested, get mad and then get to work.