Sutton’s partner is a longtime client who is very experienced in the movie business. Together, they aim to bring back Sunn Classic Pictures. As in the earlier iteration, the rebooted production company will make documentaries and feature films. Currently, they are producing a documentary about Max Patkin, known as the Clown Prince of Baseball. The movie will be released this year, Sutton said, and details are on “We’ve interviewed some great people that are well- known in the baseball world,” he said. “Anybody who loves baseball is going to love this documentary.” His film company also aims to create an online platform called SunnStream to distribute original content in a pay-per-view model. Sutton says he’s excited about embarking on this venture and learning all about an industry that’s new to him. “I realize how much fun my clients have had all these years,” he said. “Not to say I haven’t enjoyed what I’m doing—I don’t want to convey that message—but it’s new. After doing this since 1978, to be involved in something new and different is enjoyable.” In addition to his love for movies, Sutton said the film business can be advantageous for investors. The IRS allows a 100% write-off for movie production costs in the year of production, he said. In comparison to real estate, he said, those investors benefit from depreciation over time; for film, the depreciation is immediate and provides a substantial tax incentive. RISK AND REWARD Sutton said there’s been risk involved with each new venture he’s taken on, but not enough to stop him from trying. “You don’t want to just enter it blindly. You want to think about the risks and you can’t ignore the risks, but if you’re going to succeed in business, you can’t be deterred by every risk either,” he said. “We’re a pretty forgiving society in that sense. … In our country, you can take risks and fail. In Silicon Valley, that’s a badge of honor. People don’t look down on someone who risks and loses.” Though his career has touched so many industries, Sutton said he’s most proud of his canon of business advice. “Hopefully, I’ve written books that have helped people. I talk to people on the phone who have read my books and say that it’s a good book … I love it when someone says that,” he said. “If there’s a legacy to be had, it would be the written word. … It’s been very rewarding.” •

You want to think about the risks and you can’t ignore the risks, but if you’re going to succeed in business, you can’t be deterred by every risk either.” –GARRETT SUTTON

One of those lessons was that he had to get tough quick on tenants who had excuses for not paying rent—like “the Raiders lost” (and they had bet their rent money on the game). Fortunately, Sutton said, Nevada law allows landlords to move quickly on evictions when necessary. He kept the single-family rental for about 10 years. Later, when he got to know Kiyosaki and learned his “Rich Dad” philosophy of financial independence, Sutton said he and his wife decided to invest in different types of real estate. They owned a 50-unit apartment building for 15 years. The couple now has transitioned to triple net leases, which provides income without the management burden. Sutton explained that triple net leases are often commercial strip centers that house national chains rated as good- credit tenants. A management company handles building issues and rent collection, cutting the owner a check. Sutton recommended a similar strategy for other business owners: If their business needs to rent a location, the owner can buy a property and keep it in an LLC separate from the business. The business pays rent to the LLC; if the business is later sold, the owner retains the property and the income stream. He details the process in his book “Loopholes of Real Estate.” LOOKING TOWARD WHAT’S NEXT Part of Sutton’s impetus for real estate investing was realizing he and his wife can’t work forever. With that on his mind, he’s begun succession planning for his law firm. His son, a recent graduate of the University of Wyoming law school, will take over after learning the ropes. With that plan established, Sutton has taken on a new business venture that draws on another lifelong interest: producing films. He said he liked making movies in his youth and even convinced a high school English teacher to let him submit a movie instead of write a paper. “If you put the English teacher in the movie, you always got an A,” he joked.

Katie Bean is a former newspaper and magazine editor who loves telling the stories of businesses and great leaders. She is based in Kansas City.

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