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Inspiration , Investing

Taking Action is the Hardest Part – Panama to Crypto

December 15, 2023
hard steps pay off

I went to the bank 7 times in one week when I was buying my first property in Panama. This was 2012~ish, just after FATCA laws came into place. The whole process is different now, but not by much.

The property I bought, I ended up selling several years later for double what I paid. It was a great investment, if I consider my annualized returns of 30%+.

This was an investment that I couldn’t go fast with. Meaning, I couldn’t speed things up to make it happen faster. Instead, I was kept to the pace of the government and market.

The basic strategy for the investment was to buy ocean front land, in unique locations. “They’re not making any more ocean front lots,” was the masterminded strategy. Pure mid-20’s genius.

Yes, it’s obviously a basic and uncreative strategy… but it’s not wrong. It works.

However, the process to make this investment is a pain in the asssssssss. It’s bad. Papercuts in between your fingers, bad.

I started to question if this was even a profession. “Investing? This is not what I’m doing. I’m…” I’d think, as I sat in line for three hours in the alley on the backside of the bank. One week, I ended up going to that same bank 7 times.

The bank was state run. Well, it called itself independent, but it was clear who was running the show. Conveniently, they were the only bank in town that could do a money transfer for the region of Panama I was in. That meant that I had to deal with whoever was in that bank – and no one else.

Her name was “Magdalena” and she was a nightmare. The most difficult and frustrating person you can imagine to deal with. It didn’t help that she looked like a miniature Jabba the Hutt on stilts.

Her English was better than my Spanish, but she’d always talk shit about me in Spanish to her co-workers, even though she knew I could understand her. She mostly said stuff about me being a stupid gringo – nothing too bad.

The process to open a bank account in Panama, and many other countries, is often a nightmare. Any country that has problems with money laundering, drug trafficking, and general corruption have very difficult finance systems to navigate.

For me to buy this land in a remote corner of Panama, I had to go through the same process. Sure, I fit the exact profile for a drug smuggling white-dude, who “surfed” the remote beaches… but… really, all I was trying to do was buy beachfront land in Panama.

The Hard Part of Investing

The hard part about investing doesn’t feel like investing. It feels like you’re doing something dumb… something below you. Sometimes, it is something that really is a waste of your time. Other times, it’s the most important and time consuming part of the entire deal.

Working hard for a couple months total can result in making more money than working half-assed for several years.

It sure doesn’t feel like it, though.

Probably why so many people don’t do it. Investing is hard.

Sometimes, an investment is super simple. You could probably teach a 12 year old kid how to do it, in terms of the steps. I mean, my Panama land investment is a perfect example. Open a bank account, work with a lawyer, and give the seller their money in exchange for their land.

We had already agreed on a price – the same price that was listed on his advertisement. Clearly I didn’t even realize I should have negotiated a better deal – the listing price is always the starting point.

However, even though my Panama land deal was simple, it required a fair amount of hard work to get it done – mostly just patience.

By going through the trouble to open the bank account, find a reputable lawyer to take care of all the paperwork details, and follow through with actually buying the land, I had already outworked 99% of my competition.

Obviously this is easy to say in hindsight. But, really, the only advantage I had here was that I took action.

Taking Action is the Hardest Part

A lot of times, investment opportunities can catalyze just from being in the same room with the right people.

For me, when it came to buying that land in Panama, I had just driven far enough into the jungle to find something interesting. Really, the road out to the land I bought was impassable for most vehicles. With two separate door-deep river crossings, a 4×4 with high clearance was required. But it still came down to just finding something that was hidden from most.

Around the world, there are an endless amount of unique investment opportunities. To find them you need to be adventurous, creative, and most importantly, you need to take action!

There’s a reason why everyone has a story that goes something like, “I was going to buy bitcoin in 2014,” or, “I could of been an early investor in Amazon,” or, “I almost bought a house that has since gone up in value ten-fold.”

Many times, the lack of taking action has nothing to do with ability, but instead comes down to not having patience and fortitude.

Learn How to Exit

After several years of owning my land in Panama, I received an offer out of the blue. The offer, which was twice what I originally paid, was still below what I thought the land was actually worth. So why did I sell?

In truth, my life and the world had changed. My views were different. But I had also spent the previous couple of years watching several investments do a round trip on the rollercoaster.

After taking action, learning how to exit is the next most important step. 

You’ll never lose money, if you sell for a profit. 

Timing is everything in life, and investing. But don’t worry about being perfect – just get close.

Where to Take Action, Now

As I stated before, there are an endless amount of unique investment opportunities around the world. However…

When it comes to equality of access, simplicity of taking action, and potential upside, there is no other opportunity that comes even close to the crypto markets. 

If you are not invested in crypto – specifically bitcoin – you should be taking action today. Yes, you will be late to the party, but it’s still the party before the main event.

You don’t need to invest a lot. You don’t need to become an expert. And you certainly don’t need to do anything fancy, other than just buy and hold.

Similar to my land deal in Panama, taking action is the most important part of this investment opportunity.

Just get started.

(I wrote everything above specifically so I can make reference to this post several years from now.  If you want to see what I mean, just check out what I wrote in 2017 about bitcoin.)