Goal Setting Worksheet

The purpose of this exercise is to help you understand what goes into setting and achieving your goals. You will do some intensive self-examination with regard to these goals. This is for your own benefit, and for your eyes only, unless you choose to let someone else see the results when you have finished, so feel free to be specific about things that you can only talk about with yourself. The more objective and open-hearted you are about this, the more benefits you will see as a result.

Goals and dreams give meaning to life. They enable us to see where we are going, and to evaluate whether we are going where we want to go. Appropriate goals and agendas and life-quests can contribute a remarkable level of personal satisfaction, and are essential to a sense of contentment with your life. The better you know yourself, the more effectively you move through your world.

You are going to have to do some inner work to answer these questions truthfully and helpfully. Self-analysis is a tool with which you evaluate hidden areas that impinge on how you live your life. It can be difficult, raising issues you don’t really want to look at, or bringing you face-to-face with aspects of yourself you would rather deny. It can become obsessive, and needs to be held in balance, as it can get in the way of moving through your life. It can also significantly help you get where you want to go, however, and should become a skill that you know how to use when it can help. For the purposes of this exercise, you need not go too intensively into the deep, dark places of your soul; you are not going to dissect yourself, but rather you should be prepared to look at yourself frankly and open-mindedly.

There are lots of various terminologies that you could use to describe these things: goals, challenges, objectives, dreams, agendas, milestones, and so on. There are three ‘levels’ that you will identify and look at, and I have chosen to describe them as short-range objectives, extended goals, and dreams. These terms are fairly self-explanatory, but I want you to have a clear sense of what they are meant to refer to for the purposes of this exercise, as a means of making this exercise just that much more productive.

There is an art to setting goals. They are like medicine for the soul, and need to be chosen carefully so they help build your strength, rather than poisoning you against yourself. Setting goals that are far out of your reach gives you the feeling, at the outset, that you have great potential, and that you can do anything, but if you are unable to make significant progress toward those goals as time goes on, you will become discouraged, and the voices that dialogue inside your head may become more negative and self-degrading. When goals are chosen wisely, they add a sense of accomplishment to life, and extend your sense of what you can do. They should be out of your current reach, for that teaches you to push beyond your current limits, but they should be chosen so that they can be achieved with reasonable effort (however that needs to be defined for each individual).

Short-Range Objectives

These are those things you set your sights on to accomplish in the immediate future such as what you set out to accomplish today or this week. These goals follow from a clear set of longer-range objectives making an offer on your first deal, for example, or reaching out to other students in an effort to network and develop those relationships that will be so important to you. These are concrete steps you set out for yourself that will make direct progress toward your extended goals.

When you set these goals, they should be worded in such a way as to specifically detail what successful accomplishment of the goal looks like. Vague statements such as ‘I want to learn more about real estate’ don’t enable you to move forward clearly, where ‘I want to read the first 4 chapters of my Leveraging Real Estate - Leveraging Real Estate - Cash at Closing Blueprint and complete all related assignments’ gives you the ability to measure clearly whether you have achieved your goal. This is called having a measurable outcome.

Extended Goals

These are those larger goals which define where you are heading – ‘I want to submit my first offer’ is an example of one of these extended goals. They are characterized by being clear, and they, too, have measurable outcomes. They can be extended in the sense that they pertain to something you cannot achieve until later (I want to purchase my first investment property within the next 6 months), or they may be extended in the sense that they are unachievable now, but will be at some point in the future – ‘I want to buy my first apartment building within 18 months’ might be an example of this kind of extended goal.


Dreams are, well, dreams. These are those things that make your heart jump in response for one person it might be financial freedom, for another it might be qualifying for the fame and fortune. Generally, dreams have some element of achievability to them, but they are more about who you are inside than what you are truly trying to make happen. Dreams also influence your choices of extended goals, and color the way you look at the world around you. They are part of having a vision for life, and should be nourished and given room to grow. It’s easy to let the kind of self-analysis that helps you analyze goals and dreams become overly introspective – but it’s equally easy to let it drop out of the picture altogether, which can significantly weaken your ability to dream and to reach for goals.

Identifying your goals:

We will start in the middle. Short-range objectives depend on clearly articulated goals, and dreams are less practical, generally, than goals so we will start with goals.
List your four most important investment goals
these should be framed in phrases like ‘I will do __________ by such-and-such date,’ or ‘I want to __________by _________ .’


What are the most important goals in other areas of your life? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Do any of these goals conflict with each other? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

Do any of these goals help each other out? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

Pick your most important investment goal – your heart’s strongest desire. Write it out below. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

Answer the following questions about that goal:

1)  How close to, or far from, achieving this goal are you (leaving time considerations out of the picture for now)? In other words, is it within easy reach? Is it way out of reach? Does it depend upon a whole bunch of other factors you can’t control? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2)  Are you making clear and steady progress toward this goal in your day-to-day activities? In what ways does that need to improve? (As this exercise is to help you increase your effectiveness in achieving your goals, do not be too kind to yourself on this question look seriously at yourself and examine where you are effective and where they are not. In particular, as you think about this question, tune your awareness to those things that hold you back from making forward progress usually they are elements inside yourself ... fear of failure, fear of success, self-doubt, and so on, are typical obstructive patterns.) ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3)  What is your biggest reason for wanting to achieve this goal? (Give this some serious thought. As you write out answers to this, ask the same question about each thing you write, till you are at the heart of why you want to achieve the goal.) ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

4)  What inner conflicts do you sense as you envision truly going after this goal? (Is there self-doubt? What is it that you doubt? Is there fear? What is it that you are most afraid of? Why do you think these doubts or fears or whatever you identified are there? What do you feel when you look at them? What do they give back to you what benefit do you derive from them?) ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

5)  In light of your answers to that last question what is the biggest obstacle that holds you back from achieving this goal? Give this detailed thought often these things are like living creatures, and will try to escape detection; it may be difficult to force yourself to be clear about this area, but be as detailed as you can. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________

6)  Is there a way of dismantling this obstacle putting it aside, giving it permission to go somewhere else in your life for a little while; or breaking it into smaller, manageable pieces?________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

7)  If all the big obstacles were cleared out of the way, how would your approach to achieving this goal be different?


8)  If or when you accomplish this goal, how will you change – what will it bring to your life? How will it change your perception of yourself and the world around you? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Setting new objectives

Imagine that nothing in your inner self held you back any longer from achieving the goal you worked on above. Write out four short-term goals that you would set out to accomplish over the next two weeks. Be sure to frame the goals as having measurable outcomes.


After writing these out, write down how it felt to articulate these objectives if you sensed nervousness, identify what made you feel nervous; if you felt excited, be specific about what that excitement was about, etc. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Each time you rethink a long-range goal, re-evaluate the objectives related to it, and set a few short-range objectives that will set you immediately on the road of achieving your new goal.


It is a wonderful thing to have a clear idea what you dream of; but why you dream of that particular thing is perhaps one of the most important things you can discover about yourself.

Write out a short list of dreams that you envision for your life. Do not be self-conscious... this is for your eyes only. Try to let your mind go without judging what it comes up with.


Usually, dreams are about what we need to feel good about ourselves. They can tell us a lot about the motivating forces in our lives. Sometimes in looking at these motivations, we discover that they are not really what we want in our lives, and we find other ways to achieve what those dreams are reaching for.

Ask yourself some questions about why you are dreaming these dreams. (For example, if you dream about owning several apartment complexes, do you do so because you want the recognition that comes with success? What would that recognition bring for you? Or is it perhaps about proving to someone maybe your spouse? that you are in fact good enough? How does it make you feel to envision that dream made a reality?)

For some people, this is an extremely difficult exercise – either they don’t want to look at their motivations that closely, or they find themselves unhappy with what they see. The great rule of this exercise is BE KIND TO YOURSELF IN THIS PROCESS. There is nothing gained in harsh self-criticism. If you find you don’t really like the idea of being motivated by something you find (power? ego? fame?), ask yourself if that really is the bottom line for you, or is that motivating factor that you don’t like simply the façade of some deeper need, as they so often are. There is nothing wrong with having needs, or being insecure or self-centered, or feeling helpless. They are all part of being a whole human being. When you find something that makes you uncomfortable, it is often only because you have not yet found what connects that thing to your deepest heart fear of failure may simply be a deep desire to make the world a better place.

Now: Take your most private courage in hand, and write out your deepest dream. What is at stake for you in this dream? What do you want or need from it? If you don’t make this dream come true, is there some way to fulfill that need in another way? If this dream were made reality, would you change? In what way?



There is one more step in this process which you can begin to undertake. It is one which will be ‘under construction’ for much of your life, but the process itself is a journey with great impact. 

You have looked at a number of pieces of your own inner nature, and you have evaluated goals in terms not only of what you what to achieve, but also why you want to achieve those particular goals. You now have some of the tools you need to define your life philosophy. When you are able to articulate some form of this, you have a clarity about who you are in the world that will help you make decisions throughout your life. Is there anything which seems to tie all these dreams and goals together? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If you were to live well and gracefully for a hundred years in looking back on in your life, what would you like to be able to say was your greatest gift to the world around you? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Where are the Detroit Developers?

Believe it or not, Detroit is one of the hottest cities in the world, abundant with opportunities. Investors all over the world are asking which way is Detroit? And yet, Detroit developers seem asleep at the wheel… sleeping through the greatest recession of our lifetime. Where are the Detroit developers?

By Detroit developers I mean people like you and I that will find, fund, fix-up and flip properties for a good return and community pride. This is our city and we need to participate in it’s revival.

Think about this: In just a few years, Detroit will be debt-free with a tremendous amount of cleared land ready for redevelopment. It should have new, smart street lighting (with security features) and a revamped police department. The economic picture looks even better. Look around you, most of the cars are older which means years of pent up demand for automobiles. The auto industry will be hiring engineers and computer wizards for a long time. As a matter of fact, SE Michigan now hires more computer and engineer geeks than any area outside of Silicon Valley.

We also have 25 percent of the fresh water in the world. Sooner or later, industries will move here or come seeking water to survive. Just look at the Pepsi Co. bottling plant on Russell and Mack. It bottles and ships our water around the world, to the tune of $4.6 billion last year. Yet, no one has thought about doing a joint venture with DWSD to accomplish the same thing. After all, it is our water.

Wake up, Detroiters! Others are eating our lunch at our own kitchen table.

I intend to do something about this. Those persons interested in helping to redevelop the city and become developers/investors in Detroit are encouraged to contact institutions offering developers courses such as Lawrence Technological University; Taubman School of Architectural and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan and Strather Academy which intends to create the next generation of urban developers.

If you decide to help Detroit restore its proper place in the world, first seek knowledge from experts to maximize your chances of success.


10 reasons why Detroit will succeed

Here are 10 reasons why I think Detroit will succeed:

  1. Detroit now has excellent, cooperative political leadership with the mayor and City Council president working together for the first time in memory. Mayor Mike Duggan has certified turnaround skills that have already begun to show fruit. He garnered a $53,000,000 demolition grant in addition to a transportation grant to repair buses.
  2. Detroit has a super clean future balance sheet. Post-bankruptcy promises to be a booming time for the D.
  3. Detroit has great entrepreneurs such as Dan Gilbert, who has bought more than 50 buildings downtown. Dan and others like him are fully committed to turning downtown Detroit into a super vibrant place to work, shop and play.
  4. Detroit’s philanthropic community’s response to the bankruptcy is unheard of. Members demonstrated the depth of their commitment by pledging an unprecedented $366 million to help out the pensioners and keep Detroit’s artwork out of creditors’ hands.
  5. Detroit has 25 percent of the world’s fresh water a product that is in short supply and, sooner or later, people will have to come to where the water is. Just ask the Pepsi Co. bottling plant, which last year sold more than $4 billion of Detroit’s water to the rest of the world.  
  6. The automotive industry is back on top of its game with a pent-up demand for new cars and a demand for new engineers and computer experts that rival Silicon Valley. 
  7. Enter a new generation of optimists: Young, energetic intellectuals who are occupying office space, living in lofts and cramming into bars. The change is happening before our eyes, and it is almost unbelievable.
  8. Detroit has the best real estate values in the country and probably the world. Where else can you get a cap rate of 15 percent or better? Real estate is still selling for a mere fraction of its value against a pent-up demand for quality housing. The availability of move-in ready real estate is now becoming an issue. Evidence surfaced when Detroit Land Bank Authority auctioned off five houses last week starting at $1,000 each. The houses, which needed repairs, sold between $30,000 and $42,000.
  9. Bordering Canada, Detroit is a major international city and expanding transportation hub.
  10. Detroit has a great international airport with connections all over the world, and with plans to include a new airport rail system, additional runways and terminal expansions

I believe Detroit is headed for a future brighter than anyone could have imagined. These are exciting times, and it is just the beginning.

How the homeless helped create the Detroit casino industry: A story never told

I have never told this story, but it is true and almost unbelievable. Exactly 20 years ago between Feb. 28 and March 15, 1994, I collected enough signatures to qualify my “Riverboat Casino Initiative” for a place on the August ballot, but I could not have done this without the homeless. This is the story of how the homeless helped to create the commercial casino industry in Detroit.

In February 1994, something weighed heavily on my mind. Namely, I watched the Windsor temporary casino being built from my riverfront window, and I read about the proposed off-reservation Indian casino to be built in Greektown. 

The only problem was that the Canadians made it illegal to hire Americans, and the Indian proposal required Indians to be hired first. This left Detroiters with only one role to play: To bring in their money. I was not happy about this!

On Feb. 28, I attended a community meeting with about 20 Optimist members at MLK High School, where David Snead, former Detroit Public Schools superintendent, was having a rally promoting safe streets for our kids. There was a young elementary student who did a wonderful performance that left me emotional. I left thinking, “If I did not do something, her life and those not yet born will be changed because Windsor and the Indian casino would suck Detroit dry.” It was that night that I decided to put an initiative on the ballot to permit commercial casinos. 

First signature: Coleman A. Young

I had my work cut out for me. I had to collect 7,700 signatures by 4:30 p.m. March 15, 1994. I got started by retyping Greektown’s petition with my own Riverboat language. I typed for 10 straight hours and created what I thought was a perfect petition.

The initiative provided Detroit with 55 percent of the casino revenue tax; no other city in America had such a sharing ratio with their state. We would use that money for community development, public safety, anti-gang efforts, youth development and senior citizens support.

The next day I printed out some copies and started getting signatures. I will never forget it. The first signature was Coleman A. Young. He was having a meeting with Don Barden at the Riverfront Café. Coleman said, “Hell, I’ll sign the damn thing. Good luck.” Don would not sign because, he said, it was "site specific," and he did not support that.

I collected several hundred signatures that day before I decided to get legal assurance that my petition was legal; that’s when I got the bad news. My font size was wrong, the language not quite right and the petition was not preapproved by the county clerk. Furthermore, it could take quite a bit of precious time to get the clerk’s approval. I only had 13 days left before March 15, 1994.

A young lawyer, Taylor Segue, quickly tightened up the petition. We decided to go forward without preapproval from the county clerk. For the next few days, I hired everyone I could to get signatures. Most of those gathering signatures lasted a day and quit. They did not have the thick skin to accept rejection or being cursed at from people upset about the idea of a casino. 

I was collecting signatures for almost 18 hours a day. I would talk to anyone who would listen. One evening Bobby “Blue” Bland was having a concert at the Fox Theater. I began trying to get signatures from the crowd going to the concert. Most people were rushing past to get in, and I was being ignored. At that point I yelled at the top of my voice, “WILL SOMEONE PLEASE SIGN MY RIVERBOAT PETITION?!” It worked. I got lots of attention and lots of signatures. However, by the 8th of March I had a grim reality check: I only had 2,200 signatures and, for sure, I was not going to get 5,500 more signatures within a week from the crowd I had helping me; they were uncomfortable with rejection. 

What was I to do?

This is when history happened.

Determination and resilience

At about 1:30 p.m., a man in an old suit came up to me and asked if I needed help. I asked him if he was a registered voter and he replied “yes,” but he did not have his voter registration card in his possession.

I told him to stay close, and I hired him to work handling the west entrance of the City-County Building as I handled the north entrance. We worked for several hours, and at the end of the day he made $65. He then admitted that he was homeless, and he was going to get a good night’s sleep and a great bath for a change. He asked if he could bring along a friend or two tomorrow. The answer was a resounding, YES!

The next day he brought two other men. The only problem was that they were not prepared to approach the public. They smelled and needed clothing. I took them to National Dry Goods on 12th Street and bought them decent clothes. The owner/manager saw what I was doing and whispered something in the cashier’s ear. She then took 50 percent off the price; I nodded in appreciation.

That day we collected over 50 pages or 1,000 signatures. I was beginning to feel better.

The following day I hired another six homeless people and went through the same procedure. I was now collecting about 100 petitions a day equivalent to 2,000 signatures per day. I found out that homeless people are very smart and resilient. I recall one guy, somehow, did not get paid. When I got home and stepped off the elevator on the 29th floor of Riverfront Towers, I was shocked to see him there asleep at my front door. He somehow figured out where I lived and got through all types of security to get paid.

Homeless earn their place in Detroit casino history

On March 15, 1994, at 3:30 p.m., I headed downtown to turn in more than 14,000 signatures – enough to quash any recount and qualify for a place on the ballot and a place in history.

The one other thing that impressed me about the homeless is their tenacity. Everyone else quit except them. They delivered the signatures that created the casinos. They are used to being rejected, yet they never quit.

This story has never been told. Now that it is known, perhaps casino employees and the casinos themselves will help in efforts to support the homeless.

They have earned their place in Detroit’s casino history, and the right to expect support from an industry that will not hire them, but would not exist without them.

Herbert Strather: What should the UAW do to reinvent itself into relevancy?

As most people know, I write about how to leverage real estate in Detroit. Although the UAW is not dirt or bricks and mortar, it is big-time real estate in the "D" and it is in trouble. After losing the Tennessee battle, thanks partially to the GOP, it has to ask itself: "How do we make ourselves more relevant and grow?"

I have a few suggestions that come from a non-UAW member looking from the outside and hoping the UAW can save itself. Here goes:

1. Education: Devote more resources to educating members about services and skills needed by employers. Joint venture with colleges and universities and offer tuition rebates. Create programs exclusively for union members paid for by the UAW. This will create the best possible skilled labor force.

2. Member competition: Create competition amongst union members to be the employee of the quarter (or month) at the places where they work. There can be an annual award dinner with a substantial financial reward for the top employees. Criteria can be set by the UAW and the company, i.e. quality control, production, best ideas, timeliness, etc.

3. Create wealth for employees: Form a public corporation and put all bonuses into it. The stock prices will increase dramatically as the bonuses increase. By way of example, let's say the UAW created GME LLC for General Motors employees, issued all of them stock in GME, the company had a good year and paid out $8,000 per employee in bonuses. Instead of the employees getting bonuses, their stock would dramatically increase. If a stock had an $8,000 dividend, the stock should be worth somewhere between $80,000 and $200,000.

4. Personal development opportunities: Create personal development opportunities for the employees such as real estate training (of course), advance technological learning, how to buy stocks and so forth.

5. Use members as a force in the community: Encourage and support civic engagement by UAW members. Offer awards for the best project, i.e. UAW Community Optimist Clubs, Habitat for Humanity and UAW Boys and Girls Club. In other words, use your members as a force in the community.

8 things Duggan, Snyder and Orr can do to help fix Detroit

Detroit's biggest problems can be resolved with community control, technology, public/private programs and partnerships; crowd-funding and a little help from Gov. Rick Snyder. Here are my ideas:

1. Reduce crime by using technology. Crime is considered by many people as the No. 1 problem in Detroit. However, if communities establish Business Improvement Districts and Special Assessment District within the new City Council districts, the communities can control or reduce crime by 90 percent or eliminate it completely by using a Community Information System. CIS uses an intranet system that the entire block or community is logged into which has cameras on houses and light poles to track movement in the community. Deterrent face recognition technology can be used, provided a warning sign that says "Legal notice: Face recognition and license plate search cameras are operable." A CIS can also be used for social entrepreneurship (i.e. babysitting, grass cutting, etc.) and community information (lost pets, announcements, etc.). We need a grant to institute face recognition technology.

2. Syndicate street lighting and include in Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Detroit cannot use depreciation and tax credits but investors can. As part of a CIS, smart light poles can be installed and leased to the city at a reduced cost. For starters, solar panels can eliminate high utility costs and the infrastructure can in many cases be fully paid for using MSHDA Low Income Housing Tax Credits on scattered site developments along with federal energy credits. This can also be done through affordable syndication using crowd-funding. We should also look into solar panel farms on vacant blocks (with security cameras and electronic charged fences); the communities or SADs can fully pay for the lights and actually make a profit thereafter selling the surplus electricity to the city. The big issue here is whether or not we have enough sunlight in the Midwest for surplus sales and whether or not the governor would restore Detroit set aside for LIHTC's.

3. Create market driven education alternatives.

  • First, since parents want either private schools, or a suburban school system or a charter school as an alternative to Detroit Public Schools, DPS should consider a 100 percent charter system as a brand even if the charter schools are owned and controlled by DPS in the short term. DPS could spend their time aligning corporate sponsorships with the schools, i.e General Motors, Compuware, Chase, Quicken Loans, Pulte and others could adopt schools and offer their programs. In other words give the corporations a vehicle to help with – roll out the red carpet of opportunity and they will respond.
  • Second, instead of requiring the students to conform to the normal school environment, DPS should offer alternative learning environments using technology. Give children who have dropped out of school a place to go and do their daily homework required to earn them a GED or a diploma. There are plenty of vacant school buildings, but most of them may not be attractive. Try mixing socializing along with retail, and a recording studio after homework as an incentive and we will have a winner. A place like Tower Center or the Mammoth building on Grand River and Greenfield would be ideal. I'm sure there are also other attractive places.

4. Create revenue growth with citizens. No matter what happens with crime and education, Detroit needs new dynamic revenue growth. We can find that growth among our citizens by using the DNA we Detroiters were born with: entrepreneurship. The city can provide an entrepreneur fund, municipal partnerships and incentive grants. We should also look at privatization using newly formed public companies. Add crowd-funding to allow people that want to help, and we have a formula for success. Examples are:

  • A bottling plant in a joint venture with the water board. A Pepsi bottling plant on Mack produces bottle water that is sold around the world; last year sales were over $4 billion from water produced at the facility. A joint venture with the water board can produce affordable financing and market-driven sales.
  • DEGC is issuing seven $50,000 grants for national full service sit-down restaurants serving spirits. Target one in each council district. Note: Detroit has only two (Hard Rock downtown and Chili's on Southfield and Ford Road). We are the only major American city in this predicament. Why? Because of shrinkage and service. In order to overcome this we can work with churches to hire qualified, honest workers. An RFP with a startup grant will produce results.
  • A housing plant as part of a joint venture with a major manufacturing home builder and DPS. Detroit could energize our home-building efforts by creating a housing plant to produce quality homes off the assembly line and teach trades. There are two issues – unions and sales tax. There are 20 major home manufacturers along the border of Indiana and Michigan; they feed off the Michigan market but do not want to come across state line because they do not want their operations in other states unionized. Also, Michigan charges a sales tax on the completed house, and Indiana does not. Perhaps the unions would consider backing off and training their future members and perhaps the governor would back legislation to eliminate sales taxes on manufactured housing in conjunction with schools.
  • A newly formed public company between an experienced contractor and employees bidding on a public service jobs like garbage pickup, street cleaning, water services and demolition. The profits would be capitalized and instead of getting a profit sharing check for say $5,000 the price of the shares would increase by $100,000 -$200,000 depending if there was a growth component for good services. This could empower thousands of Detroiters. Perhaps our emergency manager would consider this model and add points to RFPs that include Detroit citizens' joint ventures with major companies.

5. Ask for Hope VI or HUD funds for Blight and Community Development: Other than federal demolition grants, the city should ask for more Hope VI funds and ask the governor to restore Detroit allocation of MSHDA set-asides, which he personally took away and has the sole power to restore. Detroit needs affordable houses to shrink its size. People, especially seniors, cannot afford to move off their street and Detroit cannot afford to properly service them.

6. Peacefully settle with banks. Create banks community development fund in lieu of lawsuit. Use funds to foster community improvement competition and create CIS's. The great real estate fraud hit Detroiters harder than any other American city and banks are responsible – let's settle!

7. Clear the way for Special Assessment Districts and Business Improvement Districts.

8. Insurance. SADs and BIDs can buy blanket policies to reduce costs. Real simple.

EDITORIAL: Property deals may signal rising tide

Is Detroit hosting the "real estate Super Bowl"?

That's the phrase that investor Herb Strather used to describe last week's auction of foreclosed residential properties.

At the same time, online auctions yielded a bid of nearly $9 million for the David Stott Building downtown — a building with an occupancy rate of about 15 percent — and $4 million for the former Detroit Free Press building a few blocks south.

As we report on Page 3, the owner of both buildings, Emre Uralli, stands to make a profit of a few million dollars if the deals close. Uralli bought the buildings after selling his Florida real estate portfolio at the peak of the market there in 2007 on the theory that Detroit's historic buildings had significant upside.

This could be the proverbial rising tide Detroit has been waiting for. Significant investments by Dan Gilbert likely have helped raise prices on two fronts: visibility and greater occupied density.

It's another potential sign that segments of the economy can prosper even with the city in bankruptcy.

Paving a strategy for road repairs

Gov. Rick Snyder has backed off his push to get a comprehensive package of bills to increase revenue to invest in Michigan roads.

As an alternative, he's pushing for legislation to charge fuel taxes at the wholesale rather than retail level.

That's a good alternative because it allows for future revenue growth. The current per-gallon levy at the retail level has starved transportation funding because people drive less and have more fuel-efficient vehicles.

But any long-term strategy for road improvements also needs two companion elements.

First, the truck weight limits need to be overhauled. Michigan has higher weight limits than neighboring states. It's senseless to invest in road surfaces if heavy truck traffic tears them apart.

Second, the state needs strategic funding options for public transit — in metro Detroit and other population centers.

As the Regional Transit Authority begins operations in Southeast Michigan, a clear vision for transit — and the steps required for public funding — should be taking shape, too.

Wayne County property tax auction: Large, complex, opportunity, risk

It's almost fall, and in Southeast Michigan that means the country's biggest property tax auction is underway.

The Wayne County property tax auction takes place online, at wayne.realforeclose.com, and there are actually two of them. The first round, which went live Sept. 5, with closings beginning Sept. 23, sets properties at a starting bid equal to the amount owed in taxes. The second, held in October, sets properties that didn't sell in September at a starting bid of $500.

More than 18,000 properties are on the block. Last year, the county treasurer's office offered 21,350 properties and sold 12,333 for a total of $46 million. The person in charge of the auctions, Chief Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski, said he's never heard of another auction that comes close to being as large.

The 18,000 figure comes from a total 42,000 properties on which the treasurer's office initiated foreclosure proceedings. "We could have pursued twice as many, but our office couldn't handle the volume," Szymanski said.

Cuyahoga County, which encompasses Cleveland, is the county with the next highest figures, as far as Szymanski knew. Cuyahoga initiated foreclosure proceedings on 801 delinquent properties from January through end of July this year, and expects the number to hit 2,600 by year's end, according to its county prosecutor's office.

Cuyahoga has a total of about 48,000 delinquent properties built up over several years. Wayne County's comparable figure is 199,000. Szymanski doesn't expect Wayne County's number to begin falling for another two years.

One of the many issues that arise from managing the volume of properties is that people don't do their homework and end up with properties that are rubble. They might only have looked at Google Maps and saw an image of a nice home, not realizing it no longer exists.

The treasurer's office this year considered bundling dilapidated properties into one auction item that no one would touch, and then put them on a path toward demolition. The idea was dropped, however, because of a lack of time, with the exception of a few failed subdivision and condo developments.

The auction attracts buyers of all sorts, from gougers and speculators to renovators and do-gooders, say businesses, nonprofits and real estate professionals familiar with it. Herb Strather, chairman of Strather Academy and former chairman of MotorCity Casino, has been urging metro Detroiters to participate in the auction and become homeowners.

"How is the city going to look 10 years from now if it's predominantly owned by outsiders?" he said.

Strather holds an auction course for adults that lasts through the October auction and takes the students through a real buying and selling process, with students going into the field to check on properties of interest, earning fees for research they do on properties the class ends up buying, and, for students who choose to invest in the pool of funds used to buy properties, earning returns.

Citibank is working with the class to provide 30-year mortgages for as low as $10,000 at 4.6 percent to potential buyers, Strather said.

He said many occupants don't realize they can participate in the auctions, or that they can buy their homes at auction even after losing their homes in a mortgage foreclosure. That's because lenders, too, sometimes don't pay their taxes.

"Yes, banks do walk away from properties," Szymanski said, roughly estimating this year's collection of tax-foreclosed properties includes 1,700 parcels belonging to financial institutions.

That's one of the widespread beliefs about the auction that happens to be true. Another belief is that most of the buyers are foreign.

The numbers say otherwise. According to a spreadsheet provided to Crain's by the treasurer's office, of the 12,250 parcels sold at last year's auction, 263 — or about 2 percent of the total — were from "non-USA" buyers. Buyers in the U.S. outside of Michigan accounted for about 13 percent of the total, with 1,600 parcels purchased. Michigan buyers bought the other 10,300.

Those figures are in line with information gathered at Loveland Technologies LLC, the Detroit business behind WhyDontWeOwnThis.com, which tracks the auctions and statuses of Detroit properties.

"I would expect it to be less than 10 percent," said Alex Alsup, Loveland business officer and partner.

Some foreign buyers probably partner with locals, so the office cross-referenced bank accounts looking for foreign sources and came up with similar numbers. Szymanski said even if some transactions are masked by local accounts, the total would still not be that high, and noted that foreign buyers have no reason to hide their purchases since they aren't illegal.

"In my mind, where a person lives is not as important as how they treat the property," he said.

Loveland held two classes on the auction this summer, and about 150 people showed up to each, suggesting heightened interest.

"I expect it to be more active than last year's auction. It's a combination of the attention on Detroit going through bankruptcy and more stories about cheap property," Alsup said.

The Real Estate Super Bowl is coming here soon

Investors worldwide are whispering about Detroit, the city where you can buy real estate for less than the price of a used car. Wayne County holds the largest annual real estate auction in the world and is becoming the "Super Bowl" of all real estate auctions. This September's auction will have more than 20,000 parcels available exceeding $250,000,000 in value. Detroit area property owners and investors had better be prepared to compete with investors from all 7 continents interested in acquiring their piece of Detroit's modern day gold rush.

In the last two auctions alone my students and investors purchased real estate worth more than $1,750,000 for less than $122,500. It's these types of eye-popping opportunities that have made this the "Super Bowl" of real estate auctions. And I can't help but wonder how this massive property sell off will affect Detroit's landscape over the next 5, 10, 20 or 50 years. Whether we're choosing our leaders or we're choosing how we invest our money, the decisions we make today will fundamentally change our trajectory forever.

My goal is to motivate Detroiters to participate. Some of you live on great streets with 1-2 vacant houses. I wonder……... would you agree to redevelop the houses on your own street to enhance your own house value? Some of you are retired with resources such as cash, self-directed retirement accounts, credit, skills and time yet you have not gotten involved to help your city turnaround... Why? I fear that most Detroiters' don't understand the urgency of this situation. This money coming from overseas is purely speculative; these investors are not here to develop our communities, so let's not kid ourselves.

The facts of the matter is that Detroit has become one of the most attractive investment cities in the world. Our real estate is dirt cheap but our rent is normal. Obviously something doesn't add up here. Combine this with a city government that's about to be debt free with thousands of young energetic people wanting to move here and we're ready to rock and roll.

I hope and pray that we have good strong support from any and all local investors. Whether you live in the suburbs or you were born and raised in Detroit, the Wayne County Auction is an opportunity for southeast Michigan to come together in support of our great city. Do not sleep through the Real Estate Super Bowl where great wealth will be created and millionaires will be made. These opportunities belong to the people who are a part of the community first. Please, let us not allow others to eat our family's lunch, inside our house at our own kitchen table.

If you are interested in developing your community while at the same time accumulating wealth for yourself and your offspring (even those not yet born), then wake up and let's do it!

Registration for the Wayne County September auction closes Friday; bidding closes for each batch of parcels Sept. 23-26.

Getting Rich is Easy

"I'm never going to move!" Slowly but defiantly a 12-year-old boy's tongue struggled to bring forth the words, as peers looked on in bafflement and mocked his speech impediment.

Out of ridicule and poverty came an uncontrollable desire to not only bring financial prosperity to the family of a boy who once stuttered but would also transform Detroit, one house at a time.

"Growing up dirt poor, I was motivated to make money," explained Herbert Strather, president and CEO of Strather Associates. "I made a commitment at 12 that I was never going to move out of the city. I promised myself that as soon as I graduated from Western High School, I would buy my mother a house."

What started as a childhood fantasy began to take fruition.

At 17, Strather made good on his promise and purchased a home on Cherrylawn on Detroit's northwest side, marking the start of a one man crusade to rebuild a city that was still recovering from riots and economic depression.

Strather's turning point came shortly afterward with the purchase of a two-family flat on Euclid and Dexter.

"He wanted $1,000, and I would assume the mortgage. I went to the bank and took out a $2,500 second mortgage on the house, but I couldn't fund it. I had to wait three days," said Strather. "I gave him (the seller) a $1,000 check and told him to hold it for three days. He trusted me with his deed, and I gave it to the bank. Once the bank gives a second mortgage, there's a rescission period for three days. You have three days to cancel it. I borrowed $2,500, gave him $1,000, made $1,500 and bought a house. From that point on I would always find a way to buy property and take cash out of it."

The formula Strather used to acquire property without investing money is outlined in the soon to be released book, "Getting Rich Is Easy." In it, he tells how he massed millions in real estate deals.

"I hope readers will gain financial independence," says Strather. "That's my primary interest. The first edition will be released in Detroit. Later, I may release a second edition nationwide."

While Strather's commitment to revitalizing the city is told in "Getting Rich Is Easy," it can especially be seen on Detroit's northwest side with the construction of strip malls built on three corners of Grand River and Greenfield, an apartment complex on Meyers off McNichols, dozens of homes and other projects that have expanded to other urban areas in Highland Park, Ecorse, and St. Louis, Missouri.

"Most of my real estate is in northwest Detroit. You should buy and invest in real estate where you live, work, play, and go to church," advises Strather. "If you're a west sider, why would you want to buy on the east side? You'll find out how important it is when you've got to meet somebody and you're pressed for time. If I go to my mother's house or to Hartford Church, I can ride by it (my property) and check it out. I don't walk inside, but I make sure it's still there. I can do that because it's in the path where I live, work, and play."

"Over the years, I've had a lot of projects. In 1978, we did 13 deals that totaled $25 million worth of property and never invested any money. We owned anywhere from 25 to 50 percent of the property."

Daily reflecting on his childhood proclamation, Strather actively seeks to help area youth and others to fulfill their dreams.

Over 1,300 students have attended the HJS Real Estate Academy since its founding five years ago, banking on Strather's wisdom.

"I tell my students you've got to learn math real good. You've got to learn it quick. If not, somebody will cheat you out of your money. That's rule number one. My goal is to share my knowledge with young people and make entrepreneurs."

Despite being busy with acquiring new deals and lecturing at prestigious Ivy League universities across the country, Strather still makes time to assist those that he values the most, fellow Detroiters. He is a loyal supporter of the Optimist Youth Foundation and started the Strather Foundation to further his interests.

On February 15, he will share his insight at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History during a special symposium taking place from 7 P.M. to 9 P.M. "Getting Rich Is Easy" will also be unveiled during the free public event.

Honoring a commitment he once struggled to utter at 12, Strather occasionally revisits his old neighborhood. Longtime residents marvel at the change has not only made financially but to the city.

"I won't move," he boldly exclaims, this time with no pausing between the words. "I have a great love for the City of Detroit. I believe a person should be committed to something. What keeps me here is the commitment I made when I was 12 years old that I wasn't ever going to leave. And, I'm going to keep that commitment come sunshine or come storm.

Black Diamond Entertainment Press Release - Herbert J. Strather

Detroit, Michigan, January 20, 2007 - Herbert J. Strather, renowned philanthropist, entrepreneur, mentor, educator, real estate guru and now, newly published author has penned his first exceptional "tell all" book, "Getting Rich is Easy". This unveiling and symposium will be held on Thursday, February 15, 2007 from 5 to 9 P.M. at the Charles H Wright Museum of African American History, 315 East Warren, in Detroit, Michigan.

Strather, a true cornerstone for Detroit's economic and cultural growth, has emerged as one of America's most prominent and successful African-American real estate entrepreneurs. In his book, Strather shares his vision, dedication, unwavering tenacity and commitment to making his dreams become reality for his community and his family. During this event, attendees will receive a power-packed session of knowledge necessary to successful leverage real estate and create wealth.

In addition to serving on a number of boards and committees, Herb Strather is very active in the Optimist International Club, an organization devoted to empowering young people to be the best they can be. Crediting the organization with "saving his life" as a youth, Strather past International Vice President and former Governor of the Michigan District organization has personally built over 115 Optimist Clubs internationally, making him the most successful builder of such clubs in the organizations history. In support of his commitment to Optimist, Strather endowed The Northwest Optimist Youth Foundation in 1999. This organization has been selected as the charitable recipient of this event.

Mr. Strather believes that true power and freedom lies in education, and being a man of action, he founded the Herbert J. Strather Real Estate Academy in 2003. Classes have been facilitated in partnership with Wayne County Community College District and Marygrove College. Students are inspired and encouraged to look at real estate in terms of individual and community empowerment, with class projects being focused on making communities whole from the inside out. Well over 3,000 students have been coached to realize their personal vision of real estate ownership and investment. The year 2006 has brought about another of Mr. Strather's visions with the opening of the Strather Career and Learning Academy. It is the Academy's mission to inspire youth to realize their full potential, focusing on education and career specific training.


Strather: Eternal Optimist put his stamp on Detroit

Move into real estate

Strather had begun waxing cars with his father as a child and continued to do so through high school graduation in 1968, while attending classes at Highland Park Community College and Wayne County Community College and even after he started working in a small real estate office. "I must have waxed more than 2,000 cars in my life." Strather says.

In 1970, he joined Bowers Realty Co. and soon thereafter earned his real estate broker's license. By 1971, he had become top sales lister among United Northwest Detroit Realtors, Strather said.

During 1973-74, Strather studied appraisal and public adjusting on his own, and in January, 1975 founded Strather & Associates and began putting together apartment deals in Northwest Detroit.

One of his early customers was former University of Michigan Associate Professor Nellie Varner, later a UM regent, who bought an eight-unit apartment building on Tireman Avenue through Strather and soon became an investor and partner with him.

Between 1979 and 1991, Strather & Varner Inc. closed more than $250 million in real estate transactions and acquired more than 1,000 apartment units in Southeast Michigan. They also formed Primco Management Corp., since replaced by Select Property Management L.L.C., to manage the properties.

Strather said he and Varner weathered tough times at some of their rental units during the rough real estate market of the 1980s. They were plagued by unpaid rents, damages to property and overdue taxes on some of their buildings.

By 1991, Varner's business interests took her in a different direction, and their real estate partnership dissolved, but they continued to work together on development of MotorCity Casino. Strather said they have remained close friends. Varner has been ill and couldn't be interviewed for this article.

Leonard Farber, now retired, was president of the former Republic Development Corp., which 20 years ago owned apartments in Detroit.

"Herb Strather walked into my office in 1983 or '84 and asked if we'd like to sell them. He'd found an organization in New York that was interested.

Strather was "professional, patient and persistent" in putting the $66 million deal together, but it wasn't all smooth sailing, Farber recalled.

"It's no secret that Herb is a black man, and one of the people involved in the deal was nasty because of that fact. It was remarkable to see how Herb was not thrown by that; I was truly impressed. He wanted to close the deal and he did.

"Putting myself in his shoes, I recognized how difficult it must have been for him, but he didn't take the bait. He's a unique guy and it would be a better world if there were more like him," Farber said.

The Importance of education

Currently, Strather is a partner in Woodbridge Estates, where his long-lasting interest in helping youth is underscored by his promotion of building improvements and programs at Edmondson Elementary School and Murray Wright High School and the charter school University Preparatory at Pelham.

A high-tech $1.7 million gymnasium is being built at Edmondson, to be managed by Think Detroit, Inc. and available to the community after school.

Edmondson is to become the city's first Detroit area pre-college engineering program elementary school, Strather said, with $400,000 spent for curriculum in math and science, and technology.

"Our goal is to make it the top school in Michigan within 48 months, using public and private partnerships, teaching tough subjects to the very young, when they learn best."

And Strather plans to start an Optimist Club in the schools.

Strather has been supporting the Optimists and their youth programs for more than 25 years. He has helped start a record 111 Optimist clubs nationwide from Massachusetts to Washington state, from michigan to Florida and Arizona, even in Barbados and Nassau in the Bahamas.

"He's built more clubs than anyone I know," said Ken Monschein, a St. Louis businessman and past president of Optimist International.

Monschein has known Strather for almost 20 years through Optimist activities, including Strather's service as governor of the Michigan clubs, on international committees and on the Optimist international Foundation board.

"Whatever he sets his mind to, he'll always finish first," said Monschein, who figures Strather can be the first African-American president of Optimist International, "when he finds the time."

Crain's Detroit Business - Eternal Optimist

A yen for a Cadillac convertible as a teenager launched Herb Strather into a real estate career.

That was 35 years and $1 billion in projects ago. Along the way, Strather has also become a community volunteer, a philanthropist, a founder of clubs for Optimist International and is credited - and blamed - for bringing casinos to Detroit.

He's also been a boy with a stutter who entered oratory contests until he won as a teenager who knew that desires don't change lives, but plans to achieve them do.

Now Strather, 53, says he looks to a future in which he wants to empower a new generation of developers and investors willing to help improve urban areas. "My goal is to see a thriving, comeback Detroit before I die; then I can say that I fought a good fight."

The Cadillac in question was a brand-spanking new 1970 model, gold with a white top, that belonged to developer Bernie Glieberman, president of Crosswinds Communities, Inc. Strather was an 18-year-old car waxer in 1969 when he first saw it and thought: "That's what I'm going to drive!"

And he's driven them for 20 years, sometimes getting Cadillac Eldorados converted into ragtops when they weren't available otherwise.

Strather had purchased his first house in 1968 with his mother as a co-signer, but he was still without a concrete career plan.

But the Cadillac - and the fact that it was a developer who drove it - helped Strather make the decision that ultimately led to starting his own brokerage and appraisal firm, Strather & Associates, Inc., in 1975.

But that's not the beginning of Strather's Story. The beginning came in middle school when, as Strather puts it, "The Optimists saved my life."

Strather had spent a peripatetic childhood on Detroit's southwest side during which he moved with his family five times between the ages of 4 and 16.

"We were poor and on welfare. I stuttered real bad and was an insecure kid," Strather said. He was, however, determined to improve his life.

He began selling spices and tonics door-to-door for Watkins Products, at age 12, as much to overcome his fear of talking to people as to make money.

About the same time, he entered an Optmist International Club oratory contest at his school.

"It was embarrassing for me at first. I got the John F. Kennedy saying, "Ask not what your country can do..." backward, and the audience laughed and laughed while I stuttered, "I mean I mean..." trying to get it right."

But Strather entered the contest every year until he won.

After that, enthralled with public speaking, he decided to run for class president at Western High School and won - but not before bringing up his grades at the insistence of the principal.

Students Invest in Detroit

Detroit - armed with paint buckets, garden trowels and vacuum cleaners, 15 graduates of a real estate course at Wayne County Community College recently helped a fellow student update her 17-unit apartment building on LaSalle.

Together they washed graffiti off the gold brick walls, planted flowers, painted kitches and hauled out trash. Neighbors from all sides came to watch the transformation and ask how they could become part of the action.

"We're taking the class to the streets, demonstrating how to beautify a neighborhood and make money doing so," said Herb Strather, the multimillion owner of Strather and Associates, a Detroit firm that owns or manages 3.5 million square feet of real estate in Detroit. Strather has taught more than 200 students the basic Real Estate Investing 101 class where students buy actual property after learning assessment and financial leverage tools. The real estate mogul expects to double that number this coming school year.

Selialue Porter, a former student who now coordinates the WCCC course for Strather and Associates, bought a decrepit apartment building on LaSalle for $65,000. The class taught her how to seek contractors and monitor quality and how to prioritize a $25,000 remodeling effort. Her fellow students helped restore it to grandeur.

"This building was so ugly no one would rent there," says Porter who bought the building in 2003. Now she charges rent of $485 for a one bedroom apartment and $585 for two bedroom and has 70 percent occupancy.

On a recent Saturday she invited class members to practice their renovation skills by placing signs all around the building to show where extra attention was needed.

"Our class really bonded," said Vinnie Petre of Southgate. "We will take turns helping one another beautify their properties. Eventually we could resurrect whole neighborhoods."

Students learn the Strather method of surveying property. They check titles to learn who owns the property, assess the operating cost of utilities, the potential rent the surrounding neighborhood would pay and the amount of cash needed to restore the unit. Class members hare names and phone numbers of reliable plumbers, roofers, painters, and landscapers.

Some real estate deals can be managed with little or no money down, according to Strather. One student, Piper Simmons of Detroit, expects to gain 95 percent financing on a $80,000 multiple unit building. She will finish negotiations this month, with the help of Strather's contracts.

"Assessing the property was the key to acquiring it," Simmons said.

Strather has taken a visible role in Detroit's redevelopment. His firm coordinated the renewal of the former Brewster Projects land on Detroit's near east side, creating the $110 million Woodbridge Estates.