Clayton Morris is a former Fox News anchor who left the No.1 cable news show in its timeslot, Fox & Friends, after achieving financial freedom. Through his Financial Freedom Academy, Clayton now devotes himself to helping others build passive income and achieve financial freedom like he did using methods he had to learn the hard way. After some epic failures, he’s learned how to build a meaningful life, and shares these lessons on his top-rated podcast, Investing in Real Estate with Clayton Morris.
At age 13, Clayton saw his dad unexpectedly lose his job. Ever since then he had a fear about money, and always knew there had to be a more entrepreneurial way of creating wealth. He got into purchasing performing assets to secure a future for his family so they didn’t have to go through the same financial pain as he did growing up. After spending years building up enough passive income through performing assets to quit his high-paying media career, Clayton launched the Financial Freedom Academy because he realized his passion is in helping others learn that they don’t have to just work for a pay check, and they don’t need US$1 million to achieve financial freedom.
“So what happens to a lot of people that start to make money is that they quickly find ways to squander it because money flows to those people who take care of money … and guess what? Money flows away from people that don’t take care of it, and not taking care of it doesn’t just mean making stupid investments … it also means you … think you need to hold on to it like a hoarder.”
Clayton catches property bug after flipping condos for good profit
It was 2006. Clayton was working for Fox News’ The Daily Buzz program out of Orlando, Florida, in the US when he caught the real estate bug. He had lived in and fixed up a one-bedroom condo on a golf course he had bought for US$75,000 since he moved to Florida in 2004 to work on the TV show. Then the woman in the two-bedroom condo next door died and her family were looking for a private sale as it needed renovation so he made an offer to buy it. Without any experience, he started carrying out repairs on the place every day after work. He then listed them and sold them for a handsome profit of around $80,000 just before the market crashed. He had made a fortunate investment and definitely had the bug.
Rolls money into golf community in the North Carolina mountains
He then took that money and rolled it into a speculative land project in the beautiful mountain area of Cashiers, North Carolina. The project, a Phil Mickelson golf course community that a friend of Clayton’s had found in a backroom seminar in Manhattan, required $30,000 upfront for two blocks of land on which two log cabins would be built with funds from a construction loan. The idea was that Clayton could flip the cabins and double his money. He was shown marketing materials on a website with running water sounds and visions of the proposed clubhouse and multiple phases.
Negative associations with money almost drive him to get rid of it
Some emotional negative associations with money were happening with Clayton from his upbringing that made him feel uncomfortable holding on to the profit he had already made. He said he never felt he was worthy of the money or worthy of success.
Visit to beautiful but empty mountain site briefly inspires investor
A short time later, while waiting for the cabins to be built, the market collapses, the builder withdraws from the deal, and they have to find another builder. Clayton drives to North Carolina to see his plot of land meets a promoter at their “beautiful” offices in Cashiers town that has posters with a demonstration building, the construction phases, a log cabin in a field, and lots of hot tea and coffee. They go to visit the marker where Clayton’s plot is and the clubhouse site which is also yet to be built and there is a wood sign with a picture of a clubhouse on it. Despite the lack of any progress, Clayton still could imagine how good it was going to look.
Everything falls apart as economy collapses and all stakeholders withdraw
But, just after the visit, everything started to fall apart: with a balloon payment coming soon on the construction loan, the economy collapsed. With it, the land value fell to very little, the second builder, Phil Mickelson, and the realtors all backed out, leaving Clayton apparently holding the bag. He had to go through deficiency judgment and foreclosure. One day while working at into Fox News, he went to buy coffee and because of the deficiency judgment against him, he found he could not use his debit card. He worked down the hall from Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, national news figures, and went back to his office to log into his Bank of America account to find everything was flashing red. All his accounts were frozen, meaning every single note of cash he had to his name was frozen.
Long climb back to financial health
He had to work with a lawyer to seek a settlement on the construction loan of nearly $200,000 but his property was not worth $5,000. No community had been built, and some other people had been similarly abandoned and were reaching out to form a class action lawsuit. Sadly, to be party to the suit required another $10,000 to buy into it, but Clayton decided to just walk away. He eventually paid off the loan and had to put the entire painful episode behind him. He said of course he never wants to repeat it.
No speculation. What Clayton did was a speculative land project with the hopes of a clubhouse and waterfalls and there was nothing of substance to it. He learned from this, got creative, and nowadays only buys performing assets, in established neighborhoods, renovates them, and takes his $900 a month in cash flow. He buys assets that actually exist.
Extent of his speculation. He had may hopes based on speculation.
Focus on one course of action. Stick with what you know. Don’t let “shiny-object syndrome” get you off track.
First, a tip for listeners to go to Clayton’s podcast, Episode 453. It is what Clayton calls his Motivation Monday broadcast, where you can hear a short inspirational piece about “the color of your thoughts”. In it he presents the very powerful idea of the three stages to go through when you really want to achieve something, 1. Ask for it, 2. Receive it, and 3. Allow it to happen.
Loss is a fact of life. Even people in prominent jobs with big careers make mistakes. The feelings that come with such mishaps can sometimes be devastating, overwhelming. But don’t face such times alone. Other people have been there, other people will be there, so reach out for help and the support of friends, family and whoever you can, because you don’t have to get through failures alone.
External factors can have severe effects. Impacts outside your control such as a collapsing economy, can cause everything to go wrong.
Beware the curse of winning. When we have some wins it can make us feel overconfident. It happens a lot with many of the stories in Andrew’s My Worst Investment Ever series. When investors first buy in to an investment and it goes up they feel confident, usually more confident that they probably should.
Worth of money. When we are craving something or thinking about it so much, that can have the opposite effect on getting it.
Size your position, always. This is mistake number two of the six common mistakes that Andrew has gleaned from the My Worst Investment Ever series: Failed to properly assess and manage risk. Investors may find a project and assess the risk as being reasonable, but the problem is that in many cases, people put all of them money into it. In real estate, his is probably a little harder compared to buying stocks in the stock market, but the point is to make sure you size your position so that you are not putting so much money into one project or one target investment. It should also be remembered that your sizing of the position is not the initial down-payment, it is the final payment that must be made when the property will transfer.
Don’t be afraid to listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to listen to your intuition.
No. 1 goal for next the 12 months
To simplify, simplify, simplify and return to his passion, which is teaching and helping others build wealth.
“To get this message out there to help as many people as he can, to get out of the rat race, change their lives, they want to move to Thailand, they want to move to Portugal, they want to move to Spain, they want to do whatever they want in their lives, they can do it. I want to help them get there.”
“Go out there and take action … You can spend the next two years hanging around on the internet … on internet forums … if you want to talk yourself out of anything, spend five minutes on the internet … or you can actually just get off your butt, go out and take action and become a real estate investor because I believe it’s the number one way to build wealth.”
Further reading mentioned