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I am an entrepreneur, financial analyst, podcast host, world traveler, economics and accounting lecturer, aviation enthusiast, martial artist, and a dog-lover. More than likely, I am no different than you. I am a hard-working millennial that wants more out of life. I have come to realize that I won’t be here forever, so why not spend the time I have with people I want to be around, work on meaningful projects, and help others do the same. Over the past 20 years, I have been conditioned with conventional beliefs espoused by our society, mainly: formal education is your key to success, and living the life of your dreams. Unfortunately, I found that to be untrue.
Embarking on this exhilarating journey, I was raised in a quiet Pennsylvania town, nestled on the cusp of Ohio. Yet, in a place where ambitions seemed as scarce as excitement, I refused to surrender to the seductive rhythm of complacency. As the eldest in a single-parent household, the struggles etched into my mother's determined face left an indelible mark. A resolve ignited within me – I was destined for more than the shackles of economic hardship.
One pivotal morning, the air crackled with possibility as an audacious infomercial lit up the screen. Just $29.99 stood between me and a tantalizing course on striking gold in the world of ad sales. Could this be the key to reshaping our lives? The catch: my pockets were mere echoes of empty promise. Undeterred, I embarked on a newspaper route, determined to channel my sweat into a path toward that coveted course.
Months swirled by, a whirlwind of hard work and dogged determination, until at last, the elusive treasure trove was within reach. I sent in that hard-earned money order, sealing my pact with destiny. Page by page, I immersed myself in the course's wisdom, consuming its secrets, visions of a transformed future propelling me forward.
And then came the moment – a phone, a number dialed, and the tremor of a voice channeling the courage of a thousand rising suns. My words flowed, my dream spun into existence, each syllable a testament to the fire burning within. The voice on the other end listened, asked, and in that exchange, the spark of recognition ignited. "Call me when you're ready," he said, and though I may not have fully understood what came next, I clung to those words like a lifeline.
That conversation was more than a call – it was a call to action, a call to chase dreams without a map. A surge of newfound confidence surged through my veins, setting my spirit ablaze with the promise of something extraordinary. And so, with a heart brimming with hope and audacity, I embarked on an odyssey, an entrepreneurial quest that would test my limits and reward my audacity.
From a town that whispered limitations, I set out to script my narrative – one of resilience, tenacity, and the unwavering belief that every obstacle is a stepping stone toward greatness. This journey is far from over, and as the chapters unfold, I continue to embrace each challenge as fuel for my unquenchable fire.
University Years and Career Beginning
Picture this: my journey kicks off with the vibrancy of campus life, where I'm juggling two part-time gigs – one behind the front desk at my residence hall, the other in the throes of our university's bustling real estate and property management office. And the fire within me? It was ignited long before college, sparked by Carlton Sheet's words when I was just 16. Real estate was my compass, my true north. I stepped into the realm of networking, joined the local REIA, but the landscape was vast, uncharted. Fix-and-flip was my anthem; I hadn't even whispered the words "wholesaling" or "apartment buildings."
Countless REIA meetings, a trove of conversations with seasoned investors – all pointers, yet still, the elusive guidance danced just beyond my reach. Courses came with a hefty price tag, but I was a college student on a shoestring budget. And so, I rolled up my sleeves, partnering with a real estate company in operations, before transforming into a licensed agent. This journey gifted me a seat at the table of real-world learning – tactics, strategies, and a reservoir of confidence.
My initiation was humble, challenging, but the rewards were electric. A few thousand dollars richer, I was bolder, a force to be reckoned with. Agents rallied around me, a team in the making, as my residuals began to take form.
As the final stretch of my finance studies approached, I yearned for a detour into investment banking. The idea: glean insights, emerge a powerhouse investor. And then, like a crescendo, it happened – a five-figure paycheck that unleashed a sensation of liberation. It was June, a month for the record books, and I followed the winds of success on a spontaneous road trip to the Carolinas.
Graduation arrived in 2007, and the Big Apple beckoned – a realm of investment banking and towering dreams. Yet, fate had other designs. The financial crisis struck, propelling me back to my first love – real estate. In Manhattan's heart, I thrived in luxury property management, orchestrating leases and collections with finesse. But life's tapestry unfolded in unexpected ways – promotions overlooked, bonuses slashed by the IRS's heavy hand. The city's pulse was fierce, and survival seemed daunting.
An opportunity shimmered – a chance to delve into commercial real estate brokerage, to embrace the thrill of commissions. Fearlessness surged within, memories of my past triumphs fanning the flames. I etched my name on the record books with a mid-five-figure check, a herald of even grander things to come.
And then, the story takes an awe-inspiring twist – a 23-year-old maverick eager to conquer the real estate world. $109 million in property portfolio sprawled before us, and I was in awe, a mere player in this high-stakes game. As the tale unfolded, the deal slipped from our grasp, a reminder that even in this game, the landscape can shift in an instant.
The real estate company's journey reached its crossroads, its chapters closing, and my spirit was ready for a new voyage. An enchanting dream whispered my name, beckoning me to China, a promise of discovery, of capturing dreams, and transforming them into reality.
Entrepreneurship in China
Embarking on this exhilarating journey might seem like a twist of fate, but the truth is, this dream had been woven into my very soul since childhood. Imagine, the spark ignited by a friend who ventured to Beijing, a world away from New York, whispering tales of new beginnings. Back then, I thought it was just a hiatus, a breather until the tides of the U.S. economy settled. But oh, what a whirlwind this journey would become – an 11-year odyssey beyond my wildest imaginings.
The year was 2010, and Beijing held a promise that I couldn't resist. Amidst the landscape of China's booming education industry, a seed of an idea blossomed into action. Armed with determination, I launched an educational services company. What began as an aspiration for financial freedom morphed into a relentless chase, with my business and clients becoming demanding masters. My own vision of freedom grew hazy as the company thrived, the price paid in 16-hour workdays, seven days a week. Unbeknownst to me, I was spiraling, health and dreams fading in the relentless grind.
Then, a twist of fate merged our efforts, and the path took an unforeseen turn. Three companies melded into one, and the buzz was electric. Success beckoned on the horizon, a seven-figure RMB profit shimmering like a mirage. But life, in its enigmatic dance, threw curveballs. Government regulations shifted, and our primary training facility became a nomad, shifting locations twice in two years. Yet, we pressed on, weathering challenges until 10,750 square feet became our haven. It was within these walls that I saw the business through a triumphant sale in 2019.
Yet, even as this chapter closed, my thirst for new horizons persisted. Armed with a master's degree in finance, I yearned for the thrill of real estate private equity. An internship fueled my ambitions, and soon, I was offered a senior management role with an international investment bank in Hong Kong. A vision unfolded – overseeing U.S. real estate investments and Chinese education institute ventures. But as the paperwork unfurled, life had its own plans, derailing my relocation due to unforeseen illness.
Amidst these twists of fate, a desire crystallized – for passive income, for freedom beyond holiday snapshots. The fire within me for real estate never waned, and in 2018, a pivotal decision was made. Wholesaling became my segue, a stepping stone to bigger dreams of apartment building ventures. A team was assembled, leads flowed in, deals were done – but satisfaction remained elusive.
Enter a chance encounter, an investor introducing me to multifamily syndication. It was uncharted territory, a realm I dared to explore. A three-day summit unfolded, unearthing familiarity in the unknown. Syndications, a symphony I had danced to in private equity, now took center stage. With a nine other talented professionals, many savants by my side, GOYA 7 Capital was born. Our goal: to assist working professionals build wealth without giving up their professional career. To-date, we are invested as co-GPs in 186 multifamily units.
So here I stand, a tapestry woven from ambition, courage, and an unyielding belief in the power of dreams. The journey is far from over – the symphony of success still echoing in my ears, the promise of bigger dreams beckoning me forward.
Select Key Lessons Learned
No Direct Correlation between Education Level and Earnings.
It's important to recognize that your formal education level doesn't necessarily determine your income potential.
Distinguishing Hard Work from Smart Work.
Working hard and working smart are distinct strategies that yield different results.
Time Freedom and Traditional Businesses.
Traditional brick and mortar businesses might not offer the sought-after time freedom.
Preparation for the Unexpected.
Life's uncertainties underline the need to be prepared and establish passive income streams to safeguard your loved ones' futures.
Apartment Building Investments and Teamwork.
Achieving success in apartment building investments hinges on assembling the right team.
Realization hit me: the single most influential factor holding me back was my own education. Hence, my rallying cry: "Is your education hindering your progress? Never stop expanding your horizons!"
This list of lessons I've garnered represents a condensed compilation of my most noteworthy takeaways. My heartfelt wish is that this platform imparts genuine value, propelling you towards the journey of securing your own and your loved ones' futures.