(Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

You probably never heard of Jeff Greene. No particular reason you should. He’s not a big name in the news.

Probably his most newsworthy mention is an unsuccessful run for the US Senate from Florida. So why write a blog about him?

Because in many ways Jeff is what America is all about.

Starting From Nothing

Jeff’s father sold textile mill machinery in Massachusetts but lost his business when most of that industry moved to southern states. His mother was a Hebrew teacher.

She told Jeff to, “save his pennies, look for value and never pay retail.” Good advice to this day.

When Jeff was in junior high the family moved to Florida, his father refilled vending machines and mom worked as a waitress. Jeff’s father worked various jobs but never recovered from the loss of his business and died of a heart attack at age 51.

In Search of The American Dream

Facing financial hardship Jeff worked as a Hebrew teacher like his mom, worked as a busboy, sold circus tickets that helped pay for Harvard Business School. He also put himself through Johns Hopkins with scholarships and student loans.

He decided that real estate might be the way to go and bought his first house while a grad student and started renting out rooms. By the time he graduated he had amassed 18 similar properties.

Seeing The Future

Jeff and a fellow investor thought that the real estate market was sitting on a huge bubble just waiting to burst. So they moved to “credit default swaps” and it saved Jeff’s business.

Jeff’s real estate portfolio continued to grow to 30 properties in Florida, 3,500 apartments in Los Angeles, 3 buildings in downtown Manhattan, and some other pricy homes.

Jeff bought Palazzo di Amore in Beverly Hills, California at a foreclosure sale for $35 million dollars. It later sold for $195 million making it the most expensive home sale in the US.

Forbes Billionaire Listing

After coming from a very shaky beginning Jeff Greene amassed a net worth of $3 billion dollars. That amount was good enough to put him at #603 on the Forbes list of the of the world’s richest billionaires.

Some Final Thoughts

What can we learn from Jeff Greene’s story? One important thing is that Jeff takes away all the excuses for failure. He didn’t come from a rich family, didn’t inherit his money, or get all the good breaks along the way.

He’s not alone. There are many members of the Forbes list that came from humble beginnings. About 70 percent are self-made.

They found an idea or a process and ran with it. There are no guarantees with success. It can be fleeting.

Jeff could have gone belly up in real estate but because he was a student of his craft he overcame adversity once again. It wasn’t luck or being in the right place at the right time it was an attitude that he would not be denied success.

The rich don’t get rich by luck or accident. Just because you inherit money doesn’t mean you get to keep it.

The rich set a goal and work toward it. Not haphazardly, but with dogged determination. They build on both success and failure.

There are no excuses for success but the excuses are endless for why you failed.

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