#125: Breaking Out of the W2 Jail

Welcome to The Accelerated Investor Podcast with Josh Cantwell, if you love entrepreneurship and investing in real estate then you are in the right place. Josh is the CEO of Freeland Ventures Real Estate Private Equity and has personally invested in well over 500 properties all across the country. He’s also made hundreds of private lender loans and owns over 1,000 units of apartments. Josh is an expert at raising private money for deals and he prides himself on never having had a boss in his entire adult life. Josh and his team also mentor investors and entrepreneurs from all over the world. He doesn’t dream about doing deals, he actually does them and so do his listeners and students. Now sit back, listen, learn, and accelerate your business, your life, and your investing with The Accelerated Investor Podcast. 

Josh: Hey, everybody, what’s going on, Josh Cantwell here, welcome back to Accelerated Investor. I’m so excited to be with you again, as always. And just kind of share with you some ideas are on multi-family investing. How to get started. And some myths around finding the deal and the money will come. I’m here today in interviewing a relatively new friend of mine. He’s a real estate investor. He has a full-time job, and is investing in multi-family properties, big multi-family properties and apartments on the side, building long term legacy wealth. His name is Leslie Awasom. He is the partner. You might remember a couple weeks ago I interviewed his partner, Tenny, who told us an amazing story about how he immigrated to the United States. And so today, we’re absolutely thrilled to be interviewing Leslie about multifamily investing in some of his takes on getting started. So, Leslie, welcome to Accelerate Investor. How are you?

Leslie: I’m good. Josh, thank you for having me.

Josh: Absolutely. So, Leslie, let’s jump in real quick. You’re the managing partner and co-founder of Xsite Capital Investment. You guys are investing in multi-family in the Washington, D.C., Maryland market. You already have one hundred and ninety-two units under your belt that you guys already own. You have a forty-nine unit, a 20 million dollar deal. It’s a seven-million-dollar capital raise. You’re gonna be closing that deal in the next month or so. So these are two massive deals that you’re working on. And my understanding is it’s not like you started in residential. You didn’t start flipping homes or start with rental properties or single family. You jump right in the multi-family investing. So tell us about that.

Leslie: No, actually, I started a residential. Tenny is the one that jump right in. So I started I had been learning about real estate. It was really after 2008. I was a new graduate nurse working in the hospital. I saw a bunch of nurses over there way older than me that had given like 40 year career into nursing. They lost like 50 to 60 percent of their retirement fund. And that kind of scared the crap out of me. And I remember the look on some of their faces. And I told myself, I don’t want to be in that position. I just didn’t know what I was going to do at that point in time. But I knew that doing the normal 401K route was not for me. So but a few years down the line and the other thing I didn’t get into real estate at that point in time, because I also saw some friends that lost a bunch of homes in 2008 and that kind of scared me away. So I went back to school, got my graduate degree in anesthesia. I started working and again. It’s a high paying job, but I looked at my paycheck and that’s it. And I looked at my life and I said, this is not how I want to end up. I got to do something.

Leslie: And I had a child at that point in time, when you start having kids. The motivation is changing. So around the same time I saw an article in Yahoo! talking about Robert Kiyosaki’s book Second Chance at Life and Your Money. I ordered the book immediately and I sat there reading it and it felt to me like it was a lost uncle, that was speaking so wisely, talking about my situation to me. You know, and it really resonated with me. That book led me to buying more books on different things. Mindset, investing and other stuff. It got me out of the house, I started going to REA events and meeting other real estate investors. And finally gathered the courage and bought a first rental property in 2017. Did the BRRR model on a single family. And it worked out great. It turned out really good. And it was the proof of concept. And I really enjoyed the process of doing it.

Leslie: So that light bulb went off in my head like this really works. You know, it’s not as scary as I’ve heard it sound before, so because I’m doing it now the right way. So right around that same time, I’m looking to acquire more properties going out there looking. Then I met Tenny and we were just talking about books or reading mindset, everything. At that time we were reading Elon Musk’s biography. He was reading the same book. I was reading the same book. So we connected on that. Then we bought the cash flow boardgame from Robert Kiyosaki. Started learning and playing it every Friday evening and just talking business and learning about each other. And through that, we realized that he has some strengths that I don’t and I have some strengths that he doesn’t. So we decided to partner up. I started investing in real estate. And we did a lot of research, looked at different asset classes, then came across multi-family. And it makes perfect sense. It was like this is something that would truly help us grow and could get us to that legacy work, which is what we were going for.

Josh: Yeah. So what were your excitement in multi-family in the research that you did? What was it in that research that told you? That’s where I want to go. Like, was it seeing other people succeed? Was it the tax advantages? Was it buying properties at a value and forcing the appreciation? What stood out about multi-family?

Leslie: Couple of things. Number one, the buying and forcing appreciation like you have a lot of money all over the valuation of your property than you do what other asset classes. You could really come in. I enjoyed the whole numbers part, like of looking at the property, looking at the expense and income ratio. You want to tell the story about the property. You know, the complexity that goes into picking markets, picking neighborhoods like looking at all that data and formulating those stories and looking at something that’s solid or looking at numbers and being able to figure out how you could make changes to improve this property. Stuff like that really fascinated me. Then the fact that you could 10x the value on exit of your building by doing small changes or increases in rent. So that really appealed to us. Like this is something that this is definitely, where we want to end long term. So why not just start now? Yeah. No. Is the mindset.

Josh: Yes, I like that approach. So what are some of the mistakes that you think people make when they get started or some of the mistakes that you had heard of or mistakes that you guys ran into when you were getting started that you want to avoid? What would kind of advice would you pass along to others who are looking at jumping into multifamily?

Leslie: One of the most common mistakes that I realized is people think that you’re going to get in and then tomorrow you have a hundred doors or you have three hundred doors and you’re a millionaire. Because that’s one of the drawbacks of some of the, like, podcast and all the stuff that’s out there right now. People think you’re just gonna go in and the next minute you have a property. It takes work time and it takes persistence and consistency. You know, so we started off, went to early one of the early bootcamps with a bunch of different people. We’ve seen a lot of them drop off along the way for many other reasons. But if you want to get in the business, you gotta make up your mind to be persistent and keep going at it for at least three years before you start. And that’s one thing. You gotta be committed to the business, not just to the excitement that exists or the results that you hear about other people demonstrating.

Josh: I hear all the time from, like, you know, Tony Robbins, I’ve been to several of his events and stuff like that, and Tony said very eloquently says if you have a goal and an objective, something that you want to do with your life, whether it’s a financial investment or relationship, you don’t stick with it for a certain period of time. You stick with it until you achieve the goal, whatever that until is. And many people will say, I’m interested in real estate. I want to flip houses and buy apartments and rentals and do wholesaling. And then when it doesn’t work in the first 10 minutes, they back out. This doesn’t work so well. Everybody should know. I just wanna reiterate to all of our crowd and all of our listeners, because we have listeners from all over the world, real estate works. It works for everybody. But you got to be able to stick with it until it works for you, right?

Josh: It’s not necessarily your timeframe is going to be different than mine, different than Leslie’s. You know, I didn’t make any money in real estate for the first nine months that I tried. I failed miserably. I committed in the fall of 2003 to doing real estate full time. I didn’t make any money until June of 04. I flipped to one property in that meantime and we made about fourteen thousand dollars and had another small condo that I flipped. I made six hundred fifty-three bucks. And in that nine months, we basically made no money after it was all said and done. And if I had just thought, This works in 10 minutes, it better be successful or I’m not. I’m out. That’s not how it works, man. Like Leslie’s got an awesome W2 job, although he calls it W2 jail. So I want to hear you talk about that. It works until you work until it starts to work for you.

Josh: I can tell you I’ve changed my approach to business. I’ve changed my method, my methodology many times until I got it right. And even when I got it right, it didn’t stay that way forever. I had to constantly be adjusting. So, you know, that’s just something for people to think about. So I’m excited to hear you say, you know, I’m going to stick with it until it works, you’re not going to get rich overnight. You’re going to get rich over time. Right. Yeah. So what is. What is W2 jail mean for you, Leslie? And tell me about that relative to this longer-term approach that you’re taking with your multi-family.

Leslie:So for me, is the lack of control over my time. What I do as an anesthesia provider, I really enjoy it. Very rewarding to be doing what I’m doing. But the point is, I don’t have control over my time. You know, I want to keep doing it, but I want to do it on my own time. You know, and real estate allows me to do that. I found when I started working on multi-family businesses I can be very much effective with less amount of time that I gave to the W2 than I give to real estate. Spending time at home working on my real estate business six hours a day. I am moving a lot of pieces that bring me greater rewards than going and getting paid by the hour.

Leslie: Like when I first read Robert Kiyosaki says though, don’t get used to the paycheck I thought he was crazy because I was getting a paycheck at that point and it was paying my bills. But I’m now I understand, you know, because once you get caught up in that mindset it’s very difficult to go out. And that is one of the challenges that a lot of people face or a lot of people look at when you look at that, a business that what we do like letting go of that so-called security blanket of a paycheck and going out there and fending off for yourself.

Josh: Right. It’s very much to Leslie the short term versus the long-term approach. If you did invest for the next two to five to 10 years and invest successfully for that time, you can literally retire completely financially free for the rest your life and never work if you don’t want to vs. like you said, W2. Thirty-five years, 30, 35 years for Olin K pension, Social Security. But then at that time you’re still only taking that lump sum of money to invest it and get a return on that. So you can’t spend it all. You have to get a return on it and then live off of the interest. So you’re gonna live off significantly less than what you’re making in the past. And so it’s really tough. So it’s good to see that you’ve recognized that early and know that, you know, making these investments are really important.

Josh: I wish more people could come to that realization. And Leslie, I’m curious, what gave you the confidence to know that you could do it? You know, a lot of people look at me like, wow, I’m not sure if I can do it. I’m not sure if I quit my job. I’m not sure if I did this as a side hustle when to be successful at it. Like what gave you confidence? Now you guys, you know, own and run a very successful meetup in Maryland and you’ve invested in multiple deals. You have a 50-unit deal, a 20-million-dollar deal closing in the next couple months. But you just a few short years ago, you had no knowledge at all. You were starting from square one. So what gave you the confidence to kind of get going?

Leslie:I wish I could tell you that from the very first day I was very confident that I could be, but I would be lying to you. I did not. And I got to tell you, the only thing that builds confidence is action. Yeah. I’m very thankful for personal development again. And I’m very thankful for Robert Kiyosaki because he guided my thoughts on my mindset towards that direction. You know, I’m also very grateful for my partner, Tenny, because he’s more. He’s fearless. He’s courageous.

Leslie: I can get too analytical and let fear get in my way. But I have to go piggy-back behind his courage. And we just kept doing things. And the more action you take, the more confidence you build. You can have it all at the same time, even if you are pumped up. Right. They might feel. Get into one or two challenges then you backup. You know, and that’s what we talked about earlier. So for me and my confidence continues to rise on a daily basis the more action I take. And the more I got into it and I found that I was happy doing this like happy underwriting properties, happy looking at data is the more I wanted to do it. And the more I did it, the more I go out there and talk to other people, put myself in uncomfortable situations and overcome that like things that I used to fear, like doing a presentation or a meet up. I do that now. Things like going out and talking to people and networking events. I do that more. So I’ve been facing the fear and challenging my fears. And as I do that, my confidence continues to build.

Josh: That’s great. Yeah. So, Leslie, tell me about your thoughts on building relationships with brokers, obviously. Hundred ninety-two-unit deal. A 50-unit deal. Those are typically those large deals are not just sitting off market. They’re actually setting off market, but they’re typically with a broker. There’s a broker that’s involved, the sellers engaging with the broker. And the broker has sort of a, you know, a list of buyers he’s going to bring that property to before it hits the market because he wants both ends of the commission. Right. And so building relationships with brokers is very important. You’ve obviously done that successfully. What are some tips and some thoughts on building relationships with brokers?

Leslie:So the key is understanding that this broker is a human being. They’re not machines because a lot of times when we start learning about, like a lot of emphasis is placed on building relationships with brokers, then that can lead to a lot of fears that many people become very robotic when trying to deal with these people. These are human beings. They have families just like us, and it’s just about building relationships, being your authentic self. You know, the brokers that we have great relationships with my partner or myself have actually flown out to the market, met with these brokers, have dinner with them, have a conversation with them and exchange, you know, on a personal level what we stand for and what we’re looking for. And that’s how we connect with people and keep in touch with these people and keep talking to them over time, you know? And it takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. And it’s just about being the authentic self and demonstrate into the brokers that you can close when this deal comes. Don’t try to be somebody you’re not, because that usually doesn’t last too long, you know? So it’s just about being personal. But like I said, I’m grateful I have Tenny. Tenny is very, very good at being personable when talking to other people. So he’s done a great job of building great relationship with some of our brokers.

Josh: Yeah, that’s fantastic. Yeah. Like you said, I’ve talked to other guys who are multi-family investors. They’ve done everything from dinners, lunches, sending gift cards, thank you letters, you know, things like that. Because, again, a broker’s got to have confidence that you’re going to close. And they’re looking for long term relationships as well. A broker that has a good multi-family listing. Again, it’s typically going to be off market as a pocket listing for a while. They’re going to want to bring that deal to their best people who, one can close, and two they like doing business with. They like hanging out with. They like transacting with.

Josh: And it’s not just all about the dollars and cents. If you’re just thinking, I’ve got all the money in the world, everybody’s gonna bring me their deals. But you’re a jerk. They’re not going to bring you deals. This is not how it works now. And so, Leslie, I’ve got one more business question, and then I’ve got three sort of self-development questions that we’ll wrap up with, OK. So you like to talk about this concept about the myth of find a great deal and the money will come. What do you what do you mean by that? Help our audience understand. If you find a great deal of the money will come. Truth. Myth. What are your thoughts on that?

Leslie: It’s definitely a myth, in my opinion, from my experience, because there’s a school of thought out there that just go find a deal. And in real estate, just go find it, do it and the money will come there. That can be misunderstood. All right. Because the money would not come of the relationship. Don’t exist before. You can just come off as a strange person and we’ll find a good deal. And you start expecting people to put their money into it. Right. The relationship, the prior relationship has to exist before. You know, people have to know that you’re doing real estate. And this is what you doing. And then to have confidence in you because the money comes not necessarily out of the numbers or the deal. It comes out of the trust that that person has with you. So it’s important. Early on, as you go out looking for deals, you also focus on building relationships around the people that have the money because that’s where you’re going to get the money from. The money doesn’t come from the sky and just fall on your lap because you have a need.

Josh: You don’t live under that money cloud like everybody else?

Leslie: When you find it, show me where it’s at, Josh.

Josh: Just make sure I put my arm around you and make sure we’re not carrying an umbrella. So it’s just falling on top of us. Yeah, I agree. If you find a great deal, the money will come. If you already have relationships with equity investors and limited partners who are already, you know, already predisposed to doing business with you. They already know you like you can they have an idea of what the framework of a deal could look like? And then I’ve done many other podcasts and trainings about then hosting a webinar, getting a bunch of people on that webinar and then inviting them to invest in a deal and hopefully are in a position where you have… It’s the supply demand thing where you have a lot of supply, which is a lot of investors looking to invest in a limited amount of demand. I’m sorry, a lot of demand for deals. Let me switch.

Josh: Lot of demand from private investors, but a limited amount of supply, limited amount of actual units that they can invest in. So maybe you have 50, 75, 100 people on the line and you’re like, hey, this is an amazing multi-family deal. But I could only fit twelve of you or eighteen of you in this deal. The first 12 or 18 people that text me, call me, that want a unit or multiple units, they’re going to get in and there’s scarcity and there’s a limit. There’s a time limit to one they can invest. That’s when if you have a great deal, the money will come. That’s when it’s true. But that’s all that work in the background that you’ve done first. Right, to build those relationships. That’s fantastic advice. Leslie, I appreciate that. So our three final questions. We call this the Accelerated Investor trilogy. The reason for that is one of the products and courses that we sell is called the Accelerated Investor Trilogy Wealth Model. So along those same lines and the first question is, who was the best mentor you ever had and why did they have such a big impact on your life?

Leslie: The best mentor I have to say Robert Kiyosaki. I’ve read almost all of his books because the way he explained a lot of stuff made sense to me. And I give him a lot of credit because he was the one. It was his book that started me on this path to discovering other mentors along the way and to opening my mind up to different realities instead of getting stuck in the tunnel that I was in at that point in time. So I’ll say Robert Kiyosaki.

Josh: OK. I had a feeling you’d say that. That’s great.  Number two in the trilogy is what is your ah, this is your favorite book, course, seminar or podcast that you’ve listened to recently. So a recent book, a recent course, recent seminar, a recent podcast on any subject doesn’t have every real estate. What’s your favorite one that you’ve gone through recently and why?

Leslie: Favorite book that I’ve read recently is Psycho Cybernetics. And that is because it talks about the importance of identity in the in achieving your goals. You got to identify yourself first as a person that can achieve this in order to get there. Favorite podcast, I’ll have to say is the Mind Valley podcast, which I try to listen to at least once a week. Yes. Because a lot of the personal development concept concepts that they talk about, I connect with it and it’s really helped me in my growth. And you said the favorite seminar?

Josh: Yeah. Any one of those. It didn’t have to be all of them, but book, course, seminar podcasts. Any one of those. And why did those have a big impact on you? What is it about Mind Valley that you enjoy?

Leslie: Oh, Mind Valley really helped me get over a lot of the limiting mindsets that I had. For me, I really needed that kind of that kind of mental guidance and work. A lot of the stuff that my invalid teaches about getting rid of the limiting mindset, understanding that you have to live in this wall of infinite possibilities and it’s all about how you view yourself, how you build yourself. So I was able to identify some of the thoughts and concepts that I adopted from a younger age that have prevented me from going further. You know, and I was able to see things in a different perspective. So it just gave me a totally different perspective on how I viewed the world. And it has definitely helped in my growth a lot.

Josh: Leslie, what is one of those self-limiting beliefs that maybe you had when you were younger, that you were able to overcome?

Leslie: One of those beliefs that was very typical in my culture is to be rich is a bad thing, you know? Oh, yeah. Wealthy people, you know, the same. I think that’s a common Bible passage that says something about a rich man going to heaven is like going through a needle. So it’s a bit misinterpreted and explained in different ways that develop this fear of wealth. Right. Oh, man. I didn’t realize I had it until I got into Mind Valley in that area. Oh, wow. Okay, that makes sense. You know, and if you fear something, you’re never going to get there because your mind will prevent you from getting there. So when you get just to a level of growth, your mind would protect you or maybe jeopardize you and keep you from moving for. So I didn’t even realize that was happening to me until I got into this community and started learning some of those things.

Josh: Very important to associate with people who are trying to get to the same level or people that are already at that level that you can chase and grab their coattails and go along for the ride. Very, very important. The third question in the Accelerate investor trilogy is what is one tip on self-development? Like one habit, one mindset, one hack, one thing that you do personally that helps you be your best self.

Leslie: I listen to some good content every single day. It’s all about occupying the brain with the right stuff instead of the negative. Because if you don’t, you’re going to attract some of the negative stuff. I listen to guys like you, listen to content that helps me grow towards was a path I want to go and avoid anything else that does not help my growth. So it’s all about what I let in my mind. I think that’s the one important thing that everybody can try to do.

Josh: Yeah, it’s a daily battle, isn’t it? Especially with our political climate and this COVID-19 staff and all these different kinds of things. It’s a daily battle to make sure you’re feeding your mind with just the best information, the best the most uplifting, positive stuff, associating with great people like that. And if you feel like you’re there on negativity, that negative people, the negative thoughts creep in here and you’re in deep trouble. So, Leslie, what do you tell our audience and you guys when we’re not in the middle of this virus business, you guys run a very successful meet up in the Maryland D.C. area? No, there’s a lot of our people who are from that area are people that might want to connect with you, invest with you, learn more about your work and people reach out and touch base with you.

Leslie:So the best way to reach out to us is on our Web site, which is www dot x s i t e capital dot com.Xsite capital dot com. Oh. You’d also find us on Facebook. We have a Facebook group called The Exciting World of Multi Family Investing. And our meetup is now more virtual. It’s called Exciting World of Multi-family investing meetup as well. So join us. We have our next meetup coming up on June 1st on Underwritings. So joining us, and let’s keep building the network and growing.

Josh: That is fantastic. Leslie, listen, this has been great getting to know you even better. Appreciate all your insights and honesty. Thank you so much for joining me today on Accelerated Investor.

Leslie: Thank you for having me. Josh and have a great day

You’ve been listening to Josh Cantwell and the Accelerated Investor Podcast. Leave a comment on our iTunes channel and let us know what you want to learn next, or who you’d like Josh to interview. While you’re there, give us some five-star rating and make sure to subscribe so you can be the first to hear new episodes. Follow Josh Cantwell and his companies, the Strategic Real Estate Coach and Freeland Ventures on all social media platforms now and stay up to date on new training and investment opportunities to start your journey toward the lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of. Apply for coaching at JoshCantwellCoaching.com.

Just a few short years ago, Leslie Awasom knew nothing about real estate, and this month he’s closing on a 50 unit, $20 million dollar deal. As an anesthesia provider, Leslie was all-in on that lifestyle, until he saw co-workers’ retirement funds get cut in half during the 2008 crash. Breaking out of that same W2 jail required a huge mindshift on Leslie’s part, and he shares how he did that today.

Are you like many real estate investors that Leslie started with who think that they’ll buy a few hundred doors and become millionaires overnight? Leslie’s time frame for how long it will take to get to that millionaire status might surprise you. Ignore the excitement that you feel when you land a deal, warns Leslie, because building a real estate empire takes work and commitment.

It’s hard to leave that regular paycheck behind, especially if you have a great job in medicine like Leslie does. But gaining back his time and building long-lasting wealth that’s not tied to an hourly wage is a huge appeal to him.

Those large deals like Leslie is currently closing are typically sitting off-market, but with a broker. That broker has a list of buyers that he wants to bring so that he can get both ends of the commission. Because he’s new to the game, Leslie’s had to rapidly build his network of brokers to prove he has the means to close every deal they bring him. He has a few words of advice for building that broker relationship.

One of the great myths about real estate is “Find the deal and the money will come”, says Leslie. There is no magical rain cloud full of money. There’s work, commitment, relationships, and most of all, opening your mind up that you can truly leave your W2 world behind.

What’s Inside:

  • The difference between investing for the short-term and the long-term.
  • The only thing that builds confidence in this world is action.
  • How to build relationships with brokers so that you can find pocket listings.
  • Leslie’s biggest influences on his huge mindset change.

Mentioned in this episode​

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