Creating passive income is one of the best ways to remove your dependency on paychecks and gain freedom in how you spend your time. This is exactly what Aileen Prak did by achieving dual career mastery between her full-time job and syndication. She joins Ava Benesocky and August Biniaz to talk about her first passive investment in Colorado Springs, finding her first syndicated deal in her podcast, and focusing primarily on smaller doors in the Las Vegas area through her firm, Bonavest Capital. Aileen also discusses the massive benefit of network building in syndication and what it is like to have her husband as her business partner.
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About Aileen Prak
Aileen Prak is a real estate investor and the Co-Founder of Bonavest Capital. Her focus is on investing in multifamily syndications both actively and passively across different markets in the US. Aileen is also the co-host of the weekday podcast How Did They Do It? Real Estate, where they have interviewed over 600 real estate experts.
Balancing Skies And Syndication: Aileen Prak’s Dual Career Mastery
As our readers and people who watch our YouTube show know, we brought on our Partner and Acquisition Director, Paul Hopkins, and he’s been hard at work.
He is amazing.
When you’re involved in deals on a daily basis, underwriting, the deal flows, meeting with brokers, and sending out letters of intent.
My favorite part, the negotiations.
We have a bit of leverage as buyers. Over the last decades, the ball has been in the seller’s court because they’ve had leverage over buyers because it’s been an upmarket but now the market has slowed down. Rents have decreased 7% year over year in multifamily. Transactions have dropped 70% in multifamily in 2022, so we have leverage now.
We’re excited to be on the buyer side. One thing I wanted to mention is prices have gone down a little bit. Investors are lining up. Calls are coming in, and it’s been quite interesting to watch what’s going on because our phones are off the hook. Investors are wondering what’s going on because there are some pretty awesome discounts out there.
We have some savvy investors because they’re watching the market very closely as well. The sentiment was down over 2022, but now we’re getting calls from investors saying, “Are there any deals or what’s happening? We want to get back.” In my opinion, we’re in this Goldilocks stage where we’re still in an increasing interest rate environment. The Fed is probably going to raise the interest rates another 25 basis points like they did in July 2023. I feel that there’s a lot of dry powder sitting on the sideline. I’m talking to a lot of different groups and brokers. As soon as the Fed starts tapering off and not raising their rate anymore, there’s going to be a flood.
It’s going to go time. Everybody is going to come in.
It’s no longer a discovery of where prices should be. People can underwrite deals more with confidence. Now, it’s been difficult when the Fed has raised interest rates ten times consecutively, a pause and another time in July. Let’s get to our show. We have a guest on, and we would like to go ahead, Ava.
I would love to go ahead because Aileen interviewed me on her show. Now we have the pleasure of her being a guest on our show. We’re joined by Aileen Prak. Aileen Prak is a real estate investor and the Cofounder of Bonavest Capital. Her focus is investing in multifamily syndications, both actively and passively, across different markets in the US. Aileen is also the cohost of the weekday podcast, How Did They Do It? Real Estate, where they have interviewed over 600 real estate experts. She’s going to have a good time being on the other side of the mic. We believe this interview with Aileen will bring great value to real estate investors looking to scale their businesses. Welcome to the show, Aileen. We’re happy to have you.
It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.
We’re excited to interview you. Maybe we can please start off by telling us about your background and how you got your start in real estate.
My family immigrated to the United States. I live in California now, but they came from a country where they were coming out of a genocide, a war-stricken country. They came and immigrated to the United States without any connections and without any understanding of the English language. They built themselves from the ground up. From a young age, they always instilled in me about hard work and getting an education and a solid foundation. That’s something that has been instilled in me ever since I was little.
I went to school, got good grades, and tried to make my parents proud, then went off to go to university. From there, I went to get my MBA, followed the traditional path, worked my way, and got a job in finance in Aerospace. I still work in finance and Aerospace and am working my way up into leadership. I’ve been following that path for a while.
For the longest time, I always thought that was the way that I was going to go. I would retire at 65, work at that company, and continue down that path without thinking about other things and other ways that I could potentially get out or create wealth for myself and my family. All that changed once I had my first son back in 2018. A light bulb had clicked off because, at that time when you’re working a full-time job, you get three months of maternity leave, and you have to go back to work.
I remember doing those three months’ time. You spend every minute with your newborn. Once you have to make that decision to put him into daycare and to leave him with a stranger at such a young age and trust that they’re going to care for him as well as you would if you weren’t there, it was a difficult decision as a parent to do something like that. We had to make that decision ultimately because both me and my husband worked full-time.
Two weeks after we had put him into daycare, I got a call from his school. They said, “You need to come pick him up because he has a fever.” At that time, I was working very far away from home. I was commuting, vanpooling with other people, and didn’t have a way to get to him immediately. I felt very discouraged and almost like a failure as a first-time mom because I couldn’t get to him as quickly as I’d want to get to him.
That’s when the light bulb went off for me. I realized that I don’t own my time. I have to stay and work here because I need that income coming in. I’m slowly reliant on that one paycheck. The same thing with my husband. I realized that’s not a life that I want to have. I want to be able to work because I want to, not because I have to. That sparked the journey of finding different ways to create passive income for ourselves and our families so that we can start to remove that dependency from our full-time jobs. We can rely more on ourselves and have ownership of our time so that in things like this if I need to, I have the choice of choosing what I need to do and how I want to spend my time. That’s how we stumbled upon real estate.
I appreciate what you were discussing, but maybe talk to us about what was the impetus for you to look at real estate in particular? There are other avenues for creating different sources of income. You could go to a financial advisor and invest in an index fund and have some income or buy a rental property. What was it about real estate? You’re also involved in real estate private equity in the syndication business. We’re excited to discuss that as well. We did some research on you prior to the show. You work for an aerospace company, and your husband works as well. The impressions are you’re high-income earners. What was it about real estate that interested you in being involved? Talk to us about that.
Even as high-income earners or people who are working in what’s perceived as a stabilized job, the issue with that is that you are dependent on somebody else handing you a paycheck. They can make a decision at any time to take away that paycheck from you without any reason or any fault of your own.
Sometimes, the economy, too.
We saw, during COVID times, high-income earners like doctors, lawyers, and accountants, people in those industries that had very solid jobs lost them at that time, too, because of the market change and things that had happened. It so happened that they no longer were needed in those areas. For those unforeseen events, I wanted to remove that dependency and make sure that I have other sources of income like stocks or index funds. Although it was very common, for me, I never fully immersed myself in it. I never fully understood it only because I didn’t have control over it.
There were a lot of moving parts and outside factors that would weigh into the valuation of the company and how you make money. You could be up so much in one day, and the next day, you could completely tank. I didn’t like that feeling of lack of control over my investments. For me, it felt very risky to do something like that. I minimized a lot of my investments in stocks and bonds, but with real estate itself, it’s a tangible asset.
If anything else fails, I have an asset that still holds value. I understand that you can rent out the property and collect your income and your rent. There are expenses that you need to pay. Whatever’s the net between that, that’s how much you take home from profit after you pay your mortgage and your interest rates. The model itself was very simple.
For me, that was something that I could control. It’s something that I could manage. It made sense to me. With multifamily, especially, I found that you can also treat it like a business. Now, you can impact the valuation of the property. It’s not just based off comparables in the market rate. That’s why it made so much more sense, and the light bulb clicked off. I’m like, “This is what I’ve been looking for.”
That is an amazing story. Aileen, talk to us about syndication. When and how did you learn about syndication?
For syndications, I started with single-family homes first. I live in California, in a market that you don’t cashflow. I had started looking outside of California and finding a different way to invest. When we did that, we bought a couple of single-family turn-key properties and had a property manager outside of California to help us manage those properties. We started networking with other people as we got more involved in real estate.
We came across syndications. When we heard that term, it was something unfamiliar to us. Our people, our network of friends and families had never invested in something like that. We’ve never heard the term. We started deep-diving into it. We started listening to shows, reading a lot of books, talking to other people in networking, and trying to understand what this model is.
I didn’t understand that you could purchase an apartment building that was owned by regular people or other investors similar to myself, and they pulled their capital and expertise together in order to purchase this property and this project. That model interested me, and that’s how I learned about it. We wanted to have a proof of concept first because we didn’t understand. We didn’t fully trust it just yet because it was such a new model of a new way of thinking. We wanted to invest with a sponsor that we had trusted, someone that we had made a good connection with first.
Before we move to that, I have a couple of questions for you. Talk about networking. Tell us about how you go about networking. Was it meetup groups?
At that time, we were going to meetup groups all locally around our area, trying to get out there, talk to other people, and see what they were doing. There were some meetups in different counties that we were driving to, trying to find as many as we could. That’s how we started to build out our network and learn about what other people were doing in real estate.
I love the story about syndication. When you heard about the word syndication, you took a deep dive into it. When August first heard about syndication, I’ll never forget walking by his office, and he was so excited. We’ve been both in real estate for several years. He was so excited about this new kind of business concept. I was like, “What are you so excited about?”
I’ve never heard that phrase before. I always feel like, as real estate investors, we’re limited by how much equity we have access to through either our cells or joint venture partners. I never knew this idea of going through the members of the public, raising capital, and buying real estate. There was a certain demographic of investors that sought out sponsors or general partners like us to be able to invest with because this type of investing was much more lucrative than investing in stocks, bonds, and the traditional way of investing.
You’re already closing on bigger deals at that time, too, with people that you knew.
It was not a GPLP structure. I always associated GPLP structure with large groups like Blackstones of the world. For me, it was life-changing the moment I heard about syndication.
The next question I was going to ask is, you started investing passively, so what was the first investment, if you don’t mind us asking?
Was multifamily or value added?
It was a multifamily value-added property in Colorado Springs. We had connected with another sponsor that we started through the show as well. We heard them for quite some time before we reached out and started connecting, networking, and trying to figure out whether or not their values aligned with ours. Are they going to protect our capital and then do that whole vetting process before we decide to move forward with an investment?
It’s amazing you say that because your mind is still fresh as an investor coming into this space. You’re still a bit hyper-cautious. The first thing you say, and you said it now, is, “Does your values align with the sponsor?” This is your fiduciary. This is somebody who’s making all the decisions on behalf of the investors. The trust had to be built and then you have to do a visual.
That’s amazing because we have a lot of people on our database who’ve been there for a long time, and they’re not pressing unsubscribed. They’re opening our emails, and that trust is being built. We had an investor invested with us after a few years of watching us, and he said that. He’s like, “I’ve been watching you guys grow, and I finally felt comfortable enough to come and invest.”
It takes time because people’s harder money. They need to feel that comfort.
This type of investing is a bit different than partnering up with someone to buy a short-term rental property that you can feel and touch. In LP investing, you’re trusting the GP, and you’re signing a 200-page document saying that you have no say. They make a decision of when to sell and refi. There’s so much trust that goes into the general partner’s hand. Maybe go ahead, Ava, if you like.
After the first passive investment that you made, what point was it that you decided, “This is incredible. I want to make a business out of this myself?” with your husband?
As a GP and as a potential sponsor.
After that first investment as a limited partner, we invested in several other opportunities as well as limited partners. As we started to network some more and build out that space, we realized that not only do we like the model of syndication itself. We also like the community and the people that we’re meeting within real estate and syndications. We wanted to grow that network and surround ourselves with people who we thought were like-minded, people who could continue to help us grow and think bigger.
Surround yourself with people who are doing bigger and better things so that you can follow along and you can continuously push yourself and grow, too. The more we surrounded ourselves, we started to think bigger and realize that we were only limiting ourselves based on our own fears and limitations that we put on cells and what we didn’t understand. As we continue moving forward, we realize, “We can probably do something like this ourselves as well. We can probably do something a little bit more actively.”The more you surround yourself with like-minded people, the more you can start thinking bigger and realize that you do not have to limit yourself based on your fears. Click To Tweet
We decided, “Let’s start our own show and continue to build out in that network first.” This was before we even got into the general partnership space. We want to grow that network, build up the foundation, and get our names out there. At that point, we still felt new to the space and very beginner. We wanted to build our education and go into it with an understanding, build that foundation, and knowledge base first before we made that leap into a general partnership. It is a huge responsibility when you start taking other people’s money, operating, and using it.
We wanted to make sure that we had that solid foundation, we understood, and had a proof of concept. We could care for their investment as if we would care for our own. That’s how we got started. It was building out our network through the show, started networking, and learning from other people. We got a couple of different coaches as well, and the opportunities started to rise.
The multifamily fraternity space is such a tight-knit, close space. Everybody knows everybody. I love that you like, “We got to surround yourself with these people.” Everybody in this space is so enthusiastic. It’s so amazing. They’re such incredible people to be around, but I wanted to talk about the coaching program.
The ones that survive. If you’re a people person, scrupulous, and adding value to others, the cream rises to the top. They’re the ones who survive and do better in this business. They’re a great group of people. We love going to conferences. People get shocked at how many people we know at conferences.
We also surrounded ourselves with all these people. We met everybody in Canada and the US. It’s been incredible, but you mentioned coaching. This is something that a lot of new people who want to break into the space ask us about, like, “Where should I begin?” We always say, “Begin with the mentor or coach.”
In retrospect, I would say that’s probably the biggest mistake we ever made, not getting a mentor or a coach. We have to do it through blood, sweat, and tears.
I relying on August to be my coach.
You’re the CEO of the company. I was relying on you to be the coach.
Talk to us about that because, again, everybody’s always asking, “What do I do? How do I begin?”
You went the other direction, so maybe give your feedback. Is it worthwhile to get a coach or a mentor in this space?
Making that decision to get a coach was the best decision that we had made. Prior to getting to that point of making the decision, it was a little bit challenging because you had to shift your mindset a little bit. The coaching program is not cheap. You have to invest quite a bit of money in order to get a good coach as well. You want to make sure that you pick someone who you believe in and feel like they’re going to provide the most value to you, and you can take what they’re going to learn or what they’re going to teach you, and you can apply it to yourself.
We didn’t take that coaching lightly. We evaluated. We looked at who we looked up into the space, who did we want to model ourselves after, and who did we want to learn from. When you think about it, when you go to college, and you go to university, you’re spending tens of thousands of dollars on your own education there. When you grow up, you spend money on buying a car and other luxuries, but you don’t think about investing in yourself and your own knowledge.
It makes sense for us to invest in ourselves because we can grow that much faster. We don’t have to learn everything on our own. We can leverage, utilize, and learn from their past mistakes and help us propel forward, not have to fail along the way, try to prevent a lot of the mistakes that new people might potentially make, and bridge that gap a lot faster. That’s why we decided to get into a coach mentorship program. That helped us continue to build our mindset further and strengthen that part because that was a huge part of our learning curve and our growth.
Are you allowed to say who you’re coaching was with?
It was with Joe Fairless.
He’s not cheap.
If you could talk to us about your first syndicated deal and about the trials and tribulations.
For the general partner, through our show, we connected with another individual with whom we had a good connection on the podcast, and we wanted to learn a little bit more. We had some follow-up calls after that. We set up some time to talk, start to build up that relationship, and understand and see whether or not that partnership would work or what that would look like. We had more conversations and saw how we could add value to each other.
This was a person who was a guest on your show?
Yes. We felt like we had a good connection. We’re like, “Let’s continue to connect offline.” We didn’t think that we would do a deal together, but we’re like, “We do have a strong connection. Let’s learn a little bit more about each other.” We set up a couple of meetings. We started talking a little bit more and see how we can add value to each other.
It turned over time that they invited us to help with a couple of different things on their deal. That’s how we were able to join our first general partnership, bringing some capital, helping with some of the due diligence side of things, and learning alongside an experienced operator. That was a fantastic partnership. We were super grateful that we had that opportunity to get in.
Any difficulties that came along the way or any stories you can share, or was it smooth?
It was challenging because, at the time, it was the first GP deal. It was the first time we were raising capital for another group as well. That part was challenging because it was a different mindset that you had to think about when you were raising capital. When you’re going to raise capital for the first time, at first, it seems like, “Am I asking people for money, or am I bothering people? I don’t want to feel that way.”
It was hard and challenging because we’re like, “We don’t want to impose on our network or the people around us and think that we’re ‘selling’ something.” What changed our mindset and helped us with that first deal was our mentor and coach had told us, “It’s not about selling something. You’re not selling anything. You don’t need to convince people to buy into the opportunities that you have. You are attracting people who want to have access to deals and opportunities that they might not have otherwise. You’re providing a service to them.”
That was another light bulb that clicked off. I’m like, “That is so true because, without us, they might not have those opportunities. They won’t have those presentations and the deals that we have access to.” We’re helping them grow their wealth. When we change our mindset to think about that, it helps us so much further through the rest of our careers.
A lot of people that started in this business feel that way. You providing them with something amazing. This is a private alternative investment for them, so if anything, they’re going to be grateful. I love that you guys pivoted that mindset.
Especially for people who’ve never invested as an LP before and a real estate syndication to give them exposure to US multifamily. In our case, in Canada, 15% average annualized returns are unheard of. Maybe in a development high-risk deal, yes, but on a cashflowing deal from day one, a value-added deal is not possible because cap rates are so compressed.
For US investors as well, $15 million accredited investors in the US and a lot of sophisticated ones do invest in syndicated deals. We’ve had investors who come from other larger firms and have invested with us. Now, you’ve started your firm. What is your firm’s mandate? Do you guys invest in multifamily?
We primarily invest in multifamily value add.
Multifamily is a class, and value add is the business type. What regions?
We primarily focus on the Las Vegas area. We have some deals in the Carolinas as well.
In one of the interviews, I heard something about Florida. Do you have an investment in Florida as well?
Not as a general partner, but we have invested as a limited partner in Florida.
You focus on institutional assets, so 100-plus doors? Do you guys invest in smaller deals as well?
We’ve been focusing primarily on the smaller doors at this time.
Let’s switch the conversation to our favorite thing to talk about.
It’s not my favorite, but it’s interesting to talk about.
We’re husband and wife, and we have a good dynamic working together. I’m his boss.
It’s tremendous. I spend 24 hours a day with you, and for us to still have lasted. We want to switch the conversation in a bit. In our research on you, we noticed that your husband is also your partner. We wanted to explore that dynamic and how it is. We have an associate of ours who is a brilliant guy, but he’s handcuffed by his wife. He’s going to be a prisoner of the W-2 job for the rest of his life because the mindset is not there.
The mindset is different. If you have an entrepreneur on one side and the other side is like, “No.” They believe in that 9:00 to 5:00. The 9:00 to 5:00 are stable and safe.
You went to school and worked so hard. Why would you want to leave this? You have something perfect.
It can be difficult for couples that are together and have a completely different outlook on doing this, but it sounds like you and your husband have been able to come together, get excited, and want to build together, which is what August and I have done. It’s been amazing. Tremendous is the word he uses. I would love to hear more about your dynamic and how that works.
Within a marriage or a relationship, even though two people have different ways of wanting to walk their life but they have the same goal or the same vision for what it would look like in the future, as long as each person is willing to support the other person and to do what it needed to help the other person continue to grow and get to where they want to be so that they can end up at the same place, that’s important.As long as each person is willing to support the other, they can grow together, get to where they want to be, and end up at the same place. Click To Tweet
When we first started in real estate, me and my husband were not at the same place, essentially, but we both knew that real estate was good. I was more invested in it. I was more like, “This is it. This is what I’ve been looking for.” I told him, “If I can get you on board, we can grow so much bigger and faster together than if I had to do it all alone.” He was always supportive of me and did whatever he needed to do in order to support me. It wasn’t until later on that he got into it as well, and he started to see the value of it.
He started to see the proof of concepts. He realized and understood after a little bit, too, that this is the path that we can utilize to reach our financial freedom and time Independence. For us, especially in the beginning when we were growing the business together, it was challenging because you’re always talking to each other as a husband and wife. We never had to work together in a business capacity before. We were overstepping each other’s boundaries quite often.
I would always ask him like, “Where are you with this? Have you done this yet?” There was a lot of tension in that space because he took it personally as well. We got to a point where we had to have a sit-down conversation. He says, “I need you to tell me when you’re wearing your wife’s hat and when you were talking to me about the business and wearing your business hat.” Depending on which hat you’re wearing, you perceive the information that you’re receiving differently at each time.
Ava wears her drill sergeant all the time.
He’s used to it. It’s nice that he sat you down and had that conversation with you. Keep going.
Yes, because the communication started to break down after a little bit. We started to have a little bit of tension. When we’re having tension and not in the same space, if we’re not happy and not wanting to move forward, it’s so easy to give up and walk away from something that’s hard. Having that open communication and working through it together made it so much easier to continue to talk and to be able to make the business sustainable. Once we delineated and defined our rules and responsibilities, it made things that much easier to work together. Now he’s more in it than I am. He makes all of our acquisitions, due diligence, and loan placements. We’re in a good place at this time.
It’s exciting to wake up next to somebody where you’re both super passionate about building something together. We pretty much talk real estate all day long, but on Friday night, it’s date night. I tell them to put his phone away, and it’s our time together.
If there’s disagreement at work, I sleep on the couch.
It becomes an integral part of your lives. It’s not that we’d separate it. It’s because we enjoy it so much and it’s another thing that we have in common now.
It’s nice for your kids to see as well.
Before the next segment of the show, let’s talk about macroeconomics and what’s happening with the real estate market and the debt market. Are you guys in acquisition mode? Are you looking at deals or underwriting deals?
We did close on a 34-unit. We’re continuing to see underwriting deals, looking for deals, and putting them on offers, but a lot of the deals don’t pencil a lot as nicely as they had in the past. There are still deals to be found. You need to turn over more rocks, do more underwriting, and get more deal flow in.
What is your prediction? The prices did go up, but it’s somewhat of a capricious market because of COVID. There was a lot of decline in tourism, and the market did go up. Now, it’s tapered off and came down a bit. Are you folks opportunistic within that market? How do you feel long-term about Las Vegas or Nevada?
We still feel opportunistic about the space. There are a lot of new businesses and headquarters that are moving into Las Vegas. During COVID time, the market was heavily based on tourism. Now, they’ve expanded and diversified quite a bit from an employment standpoint. It’s made it a lot more opportune market to be in. We’ve seen a lot of increases in rents in the past. It’s starting to stabilize a little bit more now. We’re not seeing the large rent growth that we were seeing in the past.
As long as you’re continuing to put that conservatism into your rent growth and what you’re projecting it to look like, they’re still deals to be found. You have to work a little bit harder. You have to find those off-market deals. You have to be a little bit more creative when you’re doing your financing. Some of the things that we had to look at were seller financing to make the deals work, working with the sellers, and looking at different options on the debt side of things. It’s challenging in this market to find good deals if you’re not being a little bit more creative.
Are you folks using third-party property management?
What are those rates approximately for third-party property managers? In our space, in the institutional hundred-plus, we pay around 3% to 4% of the rental income for our property management, and then we pay for the employees and their salaries. In a smaller unit, when the NOI is not as large, is it similar to larger deals?
It’s a little bit more expensive. The percentage is around 6% or 7% for those smaller deals. It also depends on how much work that needs to be done on that property. If it’s a more distressed property, the percentage starts to increase. That’s what we’ve seen so far. It’s around the 67%.
That makes a lot of sense because single-family homes are around 10% to 11% for one property.
10% to 12% in even in some cases. Thank you so much for sharing your transparency and sharing your background in starting this business. We invite people to reach out to you. People who are working for aerospace companies, who want to learn more. Is there a plan for you folks to leave your employment fully and run a real estate private equity firm? What is the long-term plan?
We’re in a nice position now where we’ve gotten to a point in time where we have been able to make that choice to stay in our jobs just because we want to stay in it, not because we have to stay in it versus in the past, we had to depend on the W-2 income, that salary income every two weeks. Now, we’ve created and generated enough income passively and through acquisitions. We can make that choice now. For us, we do enjoy what we’re doing. It’s been able to fuel and help us expedite the journey a little bit more by continuing to work and doing both things at the same time. We’re able to manage it and enjoy both sides of the business at this time.
The best part is to have that freedom. Let’s go to the next segment of our show, the Ten Championship Rounds to Financial Freedom. I’m going to ask you a list of questions. Whatever comes top of mind. Are you ready?
Let’s do this. The first question is, who’s been the most influential person in your life?
I would say my parents because of their background and what they’ve been able to achieve, starting from nothing to building up to where they are now. They are people that I embody and want to make proud of. I truly find them to be an inspiration.
What is the number one book you’d recommend? It doesn’t have to be real estate.
I like the book Who Not How by Dan Sullivan. When we read that book, it changed the way we thought about our business and what was important in finding the whos in your lives to help you get to where you are, not necessarily the how to get there.
I love that book. I say it all the time, Who Not How, when it comes to cleaning and doing everything.
I’m like, “Is lunch ready?” She’s like, “Who not how?” I’m like, “I thought you were making lunch.”
Next question, if you had the opportunity to travel back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t let your self-imposed limitations hold you back from thinking bigger because we ourselves put a limitation on ourselves based on the environment around us and what we think is possible. Once we’re able to get past that, there are so many more opportunities out there. We can grow so much bigger and faster if we’re able to move past that and think about what we are capable of instead of holding ourselves back.
What’s the best investment you’ve ever made?
It’s that first syndication as an LP investor because that set the stone and started rolling us and got us into the space. We wouldn’t have gotten to where we are now without that first step.
What’s the worst investment you’ve ever made? What lessons did you learn from it?
The worst investment is a little bit challenging. We’ve gotten close to investing in things that might have turned out poorly. I would say maybe not the worst investment, but the most challenging one that we’ve had so far is probably the one that we’re operating on a master lease project only because there was so much more risk involved as we got into it.
There are so many more things that you didn’t think about as you were getting into it and many things that were uncovered. It was so much more challenging and work than we were expecting to do. That one would probably not going to do some type of master lease again going forward. It was a place where you cut your teeth, and you had to get down and dirty and work those hard and challenging issues.
How much would you need in the bank to retire now? What’s your number?
That’s challenging because everybody’s number is so different. I don’t think you necessarily need to have a large number in your bank account, but as long as it’s invested in different opportunities and investments, they’re all generating cashflow for you, and you’re bringing that in, that’s more important than having a large lump sum sitting in your bank.
Living off your passive income.
Non-syndicators usually say $50 million or $100 million, but syndicators are like, “I just need a cashflow.”
They need cashflow to live off. Next question, if you could have dinner with someone dead or alive, who would it be?
I would want to sit down with Robert Kiyosaki. He would be an interesting one to sit down with because he’s such a big person in this space. We’ve all read his book Rich Dad Poor Dad. Deep diving, learning, and listening to his outlook on life would be interesting.
Don’t follow him on Twitter. It might disappoint you because he gets wild once in a while. I follow him regularly, but he’s pretty out there.
Aileen, if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what would you be doing now?
Professionally or with syndication or something out there. We’ve had all kinds of answers from other guests.
If I never found syndications, I would have still been in my W-2 and still continue working on that, thinking that’s the path that I would continuously follow, not building up that network that I have and the friendships that I’ve built along the way.
How about if income wasn’t an issue? Some people would be traveling all the time or have a food-tasting YouTube show. I probably would do that. I’ll be eating the whole time. Is there something that inspires or excites you about life or something you would have done?
My kids are getting to this age where they need a lot of time and want to spend with you when they’re hitting all these milestones. For me, if I didn’t have anything else, I would probably want to be a full-time stay-at-home mom and help develop them, be with them, and be there for those milestones.
The most important job in the world.
My favorite question, book smarts or street smarts?
I would say street smarts.
Somebody with an MBA, why street smart?
You can read all the books that you can but it’s all sitting in your head. If you don’t apply it and don’t use that knowledge, it doesn’t go anywhere. I’ve met several people who have a high education, but they never did anything with that education. It’s just sitting in their brain, and they’ve never applied it to other things in life. With street smarts, they typically take that information, experiences, and what they’ve learned and apply it to continue to grow. I don’t think that you can get that from just being book smart.You can read all the books you can, but if you don’t apply it and use your knowledge, it doesn’t go anywhere. Click To Tweet
The last question, if you had $1 million in cash and you had to make one investment now, what would it be?
I would probably find a small multi-unit property that I could buy and own outright, then live off that cashflow and invest that cashflow into something else and roll it over.
Talk about somebody who’s drank the Kool-Aid. She’s multifamily all the way. That was great. Thank you so much for providing so much value and answering these questions as well.
Aileen, let everybody know what’s the best way that they can reach you, please.
Thank you so much.
Thank you so much.
We appreciate you.