An update on my life, last week my wife and I welcomed a new baby girl, Julia, into the family. She joins our two sons, ages 4 and 2, at our home in Athens, Georgia. I talk all the time about business, real estate, and money, but not so much about life, even though I take my life very seriously.
I’m constantly seeking balance in my life–I want to maintain a good relationship with my friends and family, and a good balance in how I spend my time. If my business is the only thing I focus on, I often get too involved and obsessed, and it’s not healthy for me or my business.
So I’ve set up something really amazing in the real estate business. In the last week of April, we closed on $8M of self-storage and it was the first time that somebody else on the team has done virtually everything from sourcing to close. The only thing I did was review the underwriting with my head of finance to make sure we were paying the right price. The business is growing fast, and it’s become easier than ever, which has opened up my life.
My family has divided and conquered for the past 10 days. I wake up with the boys and get them ready for school in the morning, then head out to work or golf until lunch when I pick them up again, all while my wife is with our new daughter. At night I take Julia so my wife can get some much-needed sleep. It’s a lot, you need to constantly bring energy with kids, and they get bored easily.
We’ve been incredibly blessed by our social surroundings here in Athens, somebody has brought us dinner every night since Julia’s birth. When we moved here we didn’t know anybody in the state of Georgia, and picked the town because it fit the lifestyle we wanted to live with golf, cycling, craft beer, live music, church, yoga, you name it. But we had no friends, no community, and one kid.
Making friends took work, it always takes work. It’s like sales or dating, you have to put yourself out there and make yourself uncomfortable sometimes. When we moved here I emailed the entire entrepreneurship department at UGA and made some initial connections that way. We’re incredibly happy with our social surroundings now, but it’s not automatic.
That’s my life update. There’s always a lot going on beyond the self-storage space, but I’ve really sought out to balance things so I can live the life that I want while being the husband, father, and friend that i want to be as well. I took some questions via CallIn to get input from my listeners.
Q: As an undergrad student, how do you balance class, development, social life, your craft, etc. while you’re young?
A: College is extremely valuable, but not necessarily because of what you learn in class, it’s because of the people you meet in college and all the growth and development that takes place. I took my schoolwork seriously, but I also learned to sell myself and communicate to people, which has been a huge key to my career success.
Q: What do you do when deals are hard to find in the market, and how do you source off-book deals?
A: It’s a lot of work and a lot of money. We have a full-time acquisitions team that cold calls unit owners, and we look at 20 deals a day knowing that most of them are bad. There are no tricks and it’s not fun, but it’s a numbers game.
Q: Do you still take loans from the bank for deals or are you 100% investor cash?
A: About 60% of the purchase price is bank debt, which is a lower ratio than most folks. We’re constantly protecting our downside, and any loan with terms of less than three years represents a risk to us. Most bankruptcies in the housing crisis weren’t from mismanaged properties, they were from ballooned debt.
Q: What are some of the most overlooked distractions that a person that wants to be great can come across?
A: The obvious advice is to avoid vices and work around the clock, I didn’t do that. I think it comes down to energy, some people have the energy to go out and do something uncomfortable, others don’t. I started a business, found my wife, graduated from an Ivy League school, and set records in track all while partying, meeting girls, and not taking myself too seriously. No matter what I was doing, I approached it with energy and I got shit done.
Q: What keeps you motivated once you’ve reached success?
A: I get excited about spending time with my wife, or planning golf trips with my friend and family. There is so much fun stuff to do in this world, and my goal is to have a positive influence on as many people as possible. I also believe some pain and suffering are required to live a good life, it keeps people from going soft. But balance is important, and when you’re getting thrashed in one component of your life, whether it be work, family, or something else, you need an outlet.
Q: How can I branch out and gain an audience on Twitter?
A: I got serious about Twitter on April 12, 2020. It’s helped me raise over $30M in funding from over 1250 investors, and I’ve made over $500K in consulting fees. I even have a course on Twitter mastery. The key is to stay on topic, add value, and be interesting. Also, quality over quantity when it comes to tweeting. Each tweet you send should continue building your business and brand.
Q: How’s the golf game lately?
A: It can be incredibly frustrating, it’s a lot like business. You can trudge away for months and feel like nothing happens, then all of the progress seems to come at once. I’ve been at it for two years now and joined Athens Country Club, but I’m still sitting at a 16 handicap and constantly trying to improve.
Q: Can you talk more about being an All-American in track?
A: I competed in the decathlon, which is 10 events over 2 days covering everything from sprints to jumping to throwing. I was a serious late bloomer in high school and was recruited by Cornell because one guy fell in front of me in hurdles at the state meet. To compete at the national level I needed to go beyond just hurdles and sprints, so I learned the decathlon and continued to get better at it every year and had a lot of fun with it.
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