My Journey from Athlete to Real Estate Entrepreneur
Ever since I can remember, there has been something inside of me driving me to accomplish, and to be, something great. From athletics to business, it has shown up in many different places throughout my life.
Growing up outside Atlanta, my childhood was great thanks to my parents who worked hard to make sure I had every opportunity to chase my dreams.
I am who I am today because of the values and discipline they instilled in me. They taught me I could achieve whatever I set my mind to by believing in myself, working hard, and persevering through all challenges.
As a child, I had a chip on my shoulder. I was always out to prove myself to others.
On the outside, I was a skinny kid who was smaller, slower, and weaker than most kids my age.
On the inside, I was a fighter, ready to take challenges head on to prove myself, regardless of my physical limitations.
The “fight” inside me was fueled by my addiction. Truth be told, I’ve been an addict since I was 3.
I was addicted to soccer.
This is where I learned what it truly took to succeed. Smaller, slower, and weaker than my opponents, I learned how hard I’d have to fight, and the sacrifices I would have to make, in order to be successful, in order to win.
I out-worked, out-smarted, and out-believed my opponents. Which is the recipe for success I still use today in business.
I was determined to achieve my dream of getting a soccer scholarship and one day playing professional.
Nothing could stop me from achieving this. Not a broken leg, not going blind in one eye, not my size, and not all the “haters” who told me I couldn’t do it and that I wasn’t good enough. The belief I had in myself was unwavering.
I truly believed I could accomplish anything I set my mind to.
“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do”- Steve Jobs, Apple
The Day My Dream Became A Reality
I was 18 and was in my senior year of high school getting to play the most important game of my career.
We were #2 in the state and our rivals were #1. The match garnished the national attention of dozens of college recruiters because the best players in the state would be on the field that day fighting for the chance for a college scholarship.
At halftime we were down 2-0. Not exactly how I envisioned the game going. The second half was an all out battle, and 45 minutes of soccer I will never forget for the rest of my life. When that final whistle blew, the score read 3-2. Against all the odds, we came back and won, and I was responsible for all 3 of our goals.
Before I could even walk off the field, someone walked up to me, shook my hand and said, “I’m the head coach of West Virginia University, how would you like to come play for me?”
Within two weeks I was flown up to West Virginia University, and by the end of the trip, I knew it was where I belonged, so I signed my letter of intent.
My dreams had officially come true.
The next 4 years were the best years of my life. We were one of the best soccer programs in the country, won the Big East Championship, and ranked as high as #2 nationally.
Playing soccer at West Virginia was perhaps the hardest thing I’ll ever do, and further instilled in me the hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and belief that was necessary to succeed.
But outside of soccer, I wasn’t really interested in anything I learned in school.
However, there was something else secretly burning inside of me. A pilot light just waiting for something to ignite it…
I Remember The Day Like It Was Yesterday…
I was in the Chicago O’Hare airport my senior season after beating DePaul and getting ready to fly down to play University of South Florida. While waiting in the terminal, I ended up in a Barnes and Nobles blindly fumbling through the business section.
My whole life I was interested in owning my own business one day. My dad was an entrepreneur which I thought was the coolest thing ever. So from the time I was born, consciously and subconsciously, I wanted to be an entrepreneur just like my dad.
Our plane started boarding, so I hastily grabbed a random book off the shelf and forked over $20 of my per diem money to make the purchase.
Once settled onto the plane, I reached into my bag, grabbed my new book, and began to read.
For the first time in my life, I was actually intrigued in something other than soccer. I read that book the entire flight, in the hotel, and by the time we made it back to WVU, I finished the whole book.
I was hooked!
The pilot light of entrepreneurship that was quietly burning inside of me was just set ablaze.
The book that changed the course of my life forever? Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.
It was the first time I discovered something that “moved me” in the way soccer did.
And in true addict nature, my focus shifted from my lifelong love of soccer, to the wild and wonderful world of business, entrepreneurship, and real estate.
At the end of my senior season I remember being in a hotel after a brutal Big East tournament game. I was burned out, physically and mentally. I needed a breath of fresh air.
It was in that hotel room that night I decided I would not pursue a professional career after college.
Instead, I was ready for the next chapter in my life, becoming a real estate entrepreneur.
So three days after graduation, I moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to begin this next adventure in my life.
Life After Soccer…
This new adventure of mine didn’t go exactly as planned.
I got a job as a server at the Hard Rock Cafe because I refused to get a “real job”. I liked the flexibility that the restaurant industry offered so I could work on my business during the day, and wait tables at night to pay the bills.
For the next two years, I studied everything I could about business and real estate investing I could get my hands on. Not having any money or credit and trying to launch a real estate investing business was quite a challenge as you could imagine. I never let immense challenges in my past stop me, and I sure wasn’t going to let my current financial situation stop me either.
Until it all came crashing down...
My second summer at Hard Rock had come and gone. Still not having gotten my investing business off the ground, and heading into the “off season” in the restaurant industry, something had to give.
My bank account was at dangerously low levels and my debt continued to pile up.
I was forced to begin applying for a “real job”. I wasn’t giving up on my dream, but I also had to keep the lights on.
Afterall, I’m a college grad from a respectable University with a great athletic resume, getting a job would be easy right?
I applied everywhere and couldn’t even get a call back. Finally after what seemed like months of rejection, I had an interview for a management position with a clothing retailer. After my third and final interview, I was certain the position was mine.
Waiting to get the good news, I received a postcard in the mail the following week from the company. It read, “Thanks for interviewing with us, but we have decided to hire the other applicant. We wish you the best.”
I was outraged!
Not only could I not get a job, I couldn’t even get a phone call from a real person to deliver the bad news. Instead, a cowardly postcard…
In that moment pacing around my kitchen, I made a vow to myself, that from now on, I would be in total control of my financial well-being.
Never again I would allow someone else to dictate my livelihood
In this fit of rage, I told myself it’s time to get up off the sideline and into the game. No more messing around, it was time to launch my real estate business. I didn’t necessarily know what I was doing, but I was pushing all my chips in.
I had to succeed, failure just wasn’t an option.
I used everything I learned throughout my career in sports about resilience, work ethic, and overcoming adversity to apply to Business.
Entrepreneurship was my new Sport and, just like in soccer, I wanted to win.
I was a man on a mission, nothing could stop me. This winning mentality propelled me to success. In the next 3 months I successfully completed my first 4 real estate deals and I never looked back.
For the next 5 years I worked exclusively as a real estate investor flipping houses many times without money or credit. In that 5 year span, I was involved one way or another in over 50 transactions and was earning my stripes in the real estate and entrepreneurship “school of hard knocks.”
Experience became my best teacher
I enjoyed some great success and many “learning experiences”. I’m a firm believer that unless you quit, there is no such thing as failure, instead, just a “temporary defeat.”
If you look at all the great achievers, the one thing they all have in common is that they were met with “temporary defeat” many times in their career.
Like Michael Jordan who was cut from his high school basketball team. Without that “temporary defeat”, he may have never had the motivation, and the burning desire, to become the most iconic basketball player of all time.
Every time I am met with temporary defeat in business, I see it as an opportunity to learn, and become better, smarter, and wiser.
So as time went on, the real estate market continued to turn and gain momentum. It became increasingly difficult for investors. Distressed properties and foreclosed bank inventory were shrinking, lending was loosening, which meant prices continued to rise, and competition with other investors and retail home buyers hit an all time high in my career.
Evolve or Parish
So in 2014 I decided to do something I never thought I would… I got my real estate license and decided to build a retail real estate business along side my investing business.
It was a decision I put off for a long time because I didn’t want to be stereotyped as “just another real estate agent”.
Being in the industry for years prior, I knew the reputation that agents had among the general public, and it wasn’t a good one.
But it wasn’t until I began to build the retail business as a Realtor that I discovered just how broken the real estate industry really was. The malpractice and incompetence I saw and experienced on a daily basis was astounding. Most of the agents had no business or marketing acumen, instead resorting to questionable tactics like cold calling and door knocking, essentially begging and harassing people to get business.
No wonder the industry has such a negative reputation...
And while I saw an industry that was extremely broken, I also saw tremendous opportunity to build a business that was different, a real estate business that can bring honor back to the industry built on trust, ethics, and a fiduciary responsibility to protect our clients before anything else.
I was a year into building my business when I had an experience I’ll never forget, one that changed me and my business forever.
It was the epitome of this Broken Industry we call real estate, riddled with malpractice and incompetence that caused someone so much pain I knew I had to do more.
I had to draw a line in the sand, and take a stand…
(continued on the next page)