A Brief History of 'Investor' Justin

I was blessed to have parents who taught me the importance of financial stewardship from a young age—like "saving for a rainy day" and not being "penny wise and pound foolish". But even more importantly were the lessons my father taught me about stock trading and investing. (My parents were first generation immigrants to the USA, and my dad was a first generation university graduate.)

I remember being just a tween when my father let me pick my first stock. And as he explained to me the basic idea of investing, the prospects of seeing the money grow seemed so incredible. Even at such a young age I knew there was some kind of power and ingenuity to be harnessed through investing.

Ever since then, I've turned over every rock to learn all about "investing" and to discover my own investment strategies. My parents gave me the foundation I needed to build upon, but it was up to me to piece together a framework to work within.

I never really liked trading stocks—let alone holding onto them—because I always felt like I didn't have the control I wanted over them. I felt like it was similar to gambling in a game of Blackjack—mostly luck—whereas my preference was a long game of Texas Hold'em Poker where I had more strategy-making opportunities.

So after an exhilarating and very insightful few years of day trading stocks during the bull market years through high school prior to the Great Recession (2007-08), I went on to learn about real estate. And that's when I started to discover my true investment passion in my early 20's.

To me, real estate felt like a safe physical asset that really just required a good deal (a good location, a good professional team, and a good financial strategy). With real estate, I would be able to plan for a variety of economic and financial scenarios that I could easily comprehend and I could also make use of a variety of negotiating tactics.

I was also attracted to the potential tax advantages available as I dug into the tax code and convinced that capitalist economies were structured around real estate investments and leverage.

So like any new real estate investor, I first started by picking up Robert Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad Poor Dad" book. I learned about the Cash-flow Quadrant and began to understand the importance of focusing my time and energy in moving my life over to the business owner and investor quadrants.

I also learned about the basic process and financial mechanics of real estate investing and the simple "retail" strategies available like buy-to-rent. I eventually read other books and learned about more complex strategies like flipping, 1031 exchanges, commercial real estate, and the concept of OPM (Other People's Money).

It all sounded great to me and I was so eager to hit the ground running, but probably like most young people, I hit a few walls. I didn't have much cash, didn't know how to implement the strategies, had no team, no network, no mentors, no experience (across myself or my family), and I had no basic real-world or business finance knowledge since I just graduated from college. I never even owned my own home at the time so I didn't have any experience with real estate agents, banks, mortgages, loans, or leverage. I had none of the basics—the prerequisites to start—I was utterly clueless.

The only thing that kept me going was my inner belief that real estate was the way to go and even if it took me years and years to figure out, I had to keep pressing forward. To me, it was just a matter of perseverance so that at the right place and at the right time, I would be ready to take advantage of my "lucky break".

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