Listen to Neal’s most recent podcast guesting, an interview with Chris Prefontaine of Smart Real Estate Coach Podcast
Multifamily Wealth with Technological Precision
Chris: Good morning and welcome Smart listeners. I’m Chris Prefontaine and my focus weekly is to bring you an expert who is going to help you make a quantum leap in your business, your finances and/or your life. Buckle in here with us while we bring you the next Master’s Class.
You guys know if you’ve been listening to the show for a while that on purpose, I don’t bring you just people in our niche. I know a lot of people that run podcasts do that. I on purpose bring you variety, bring you people from all different niches in the real estate industry and there’s a reason for that. It’s not so that you can get caught up in the next shiny object. I don’t want you to do that.
What I want you to do though is be equipped. Be equipped so when a deal comes your way, an investor comes your way, something, an opportunity comes your way, you know either which way to pivot, which way to handle it, or who to call to go ahead and get it handled.
We’re going to spend some time today with Neal Bawa from San Francisco. He’s the CEO, Founder at Grocapitus, a commercial real estate investment company. Neal sources, he negotiates, and he acquires commercial properties all across the U.S. for 200-plus investors. Current portfolio—get this—is 1,000 units, projected to be 2,000 in another 12 months. This portfolio includes multifamily and student housing properties in six different states right now.
He also serves as CEO at MultifamilyU. It’s an apartment investment education company. He speaks at events, Meetups all across the country. Nearly 4,000 students attend his Multifamily seminar series each year and hundreds attend his Magic of Multifamily Bootcamps. Neal’s nationwide Meetup network (Multifamily University) has thousands of members. Thousands hear his podcast and you’re about to hear some talk with him and I right now and I know you’re going to value that and I know you’re going to get some great takeaway, so grab a pen and paper.
He’s been featured in over a dozen podcasts and radio shows, actually. His management techniques and revenue optimization techniques for multifamily are considered unique in the industry, so we’ll talk a little bit about that.
He’s the cofounder of the largest multifamily investing Meetup network in the U.S. BAMF, I’ll have you talk about that a little bit when you come on, Neal. It’s a group of investors, over 3,000 members. He’s taught the fundamentals of multifamily investing, real estate trends, and deal analysis to 1,000-plus students.
I’m not going to give you the whole portfolio, but I’m going to read to you some of the things I got prior to this interview for the portfolio, just to get you guys thinking a little bit about who we’re going to be chatting with here.
Managed, co-owned with investors: 235-unit multifamily in Dallas; 388-bed student housing in Vegas; 355-unit student housing in Buffalo, New York; 102-unit mixed housing project in Utah. I could go on and on, that’s only half the list.
I want to welcome to the show here, Neal Bawa. Neal, welcome.
Neal: Thanks so much, Chris. I’m delighted to be on the show. Thanks for having me.
Chris: Well, I’m super psyched to have you and as I said in the introduction, I love these guys to get exposure to as many people as they can because look, I’m not the multifamily expert and I want them to know who to turn to. Do this for them, because they don’t know you, take us behind the green curtain a little bit and give some context as far as the when, the how, and the why you got started in investing in real estate in general, and then we’ll kind of hone it in.
Neal: Sure. I’m not real estate royalty. I haven’t done a thousand loans; I haven’t done a hundred flips. I’m a technologist. I got into real estate by accident because of my day job, where I was building large technology campuses that were 30,000 square feet and I was building them from scratch. I was doing this as a tech executive and it was part of my job as a chief operations officer, and so I kind of stumbled into real estate that way and at that point, it wasn’t multifamily, it was commercial office space and that was 2003.
Then after that, I realized I really liked real estate and I was good at real estate, and then I went backwards, and I went to the single family. I bought 10 homes in Modera, California. Loved it, I still own those homes, ran out of loans, refinanced, got my wife’s name off. I went to Chicago, bought 10 triplexes, loved that experience, but of course ran out of loans again for her and then I started looking at multifamily just to invest my own passive money. I was a partner in a technology company that was cash flowing like crazy, so I was just investing my own money and not anyone else’s, not family money, just me.
When I ran out of all those single-family loans, I said, “Well, what the hell do people do when they run out of loans? There must be something else.” I discovered multifamily and I realized, this is my kind of stuff. I’m a chief operations officer. I have 400 employees and I understand how do you scale businesses. To me, I realized a multifamily, a $20 million multifamily, is just a business. You’re buying a business and improving that business and that really, really connected with me on a metrics level, on a dashboard level. This is what I was used to doing. I was just doing it in real estate.
Then I started teaching that multifamily the skills that I was learning as a passive investor. I’m not active at this point. I’m a passive investor. I’m teaching those skills and I opened a Meetup and I started telling people, “This is what I’m learning from all these syndicators, that I’m passively invested.” People really started to love that, and my goal was to get to 200 investors for that Meetup and then 500 and then 1,000 and then 3,000. As of today, we’re at 4,880 in that Meetup. It’s the largest in the U.S.
So, the story just kept going and along the way I just got swept along, sold my technology company, exited, reinvested that money into multifamily and then basically started doing active syndications myself. I know you mentioned about 1,000-unit portfolio, but on the 20th of September, I will hit 1,600 units nationwide.
It’s been a fantastic journey and all along, I haven’t changed from the fact that I’m a technology guy and I’m a data and analytics guy that looks at real estate with a very different kind of a lens than most people do. So, that’s my story.
Neal: Really, really cool. Thanks for sharing, Neal. You know what was neat, you said—I’ve had, oh, I don’t know, two, three, maybe four multifamily people on the show, different, you know, different niches within the niche. And you said something that’s logical to me, but I bet you no one has said this out of all the experts we’ve had on, and that was the simple statement that you treat the multifamily, or the building, so to speak, as a business. So simple and so effective. Pretty cool.
Neal: It really is. I mean, if you think about it, we are in the business of raising net operating income and how do you do that? You reduce expenses and you increase income.
But only in real estate, and there are a few other niches like it, but in commercial real estate, the magic is simply this: When you increase your net profit by $1, by a single dollar, you actually end up making $21. That doesn’t happen anywhere else. It’s the magic of cap rates. Why? Because when you increase your income by $1, while you get that $1 every single year. If you’re in the project for 5 years, now you’ve made $5 by increasing it a buck. And when you sell at a 6 cap or a 6-1/2 cap, that $1 that you increased in your profit, whoever is buying it will give you $15 for it, or $16 actually. $16 for it.
Now, you’ve already made $5 in cash flow and now you’re making $16 when you sell. It is so easy to be enthusiastic about wanting to bump up your income by $1, knowing that you’re about to make 21.
Chris: Yeah, it is really cool. It’s kind of like when I say to people, would you go—it doesn’t matter what niche, but when I’m talking about mine—would you go into whatever course or whatever affiliate program, whatever it might be, it doesn’t matter the cost. Would you go if you knew you could double your return and you knew with said certain you could? Well, man, if you’re doing $1 and could turn it into $16 and you say to them, “I can show you how to get from A to Z,” I don’t know who would not want to do that with you.
Neal: It’s huge. That is one of the reasons why I founded MultifamilyU. MultifamilyU is a website that has dozens and dozens of data-driven analytics webinars. You could call it multifamily for geeks, and it would still work because it really is for people that are data driven, analytics driven. I am a data scientist myself on the technology side, so what I’m trying to do is basically read the tea leaves when it comes to various operational things and say, “Which one of these leads to the most amount of profit or which one of these saves me the most amount of money?” and implement it in that order.
A lot of my webinars are really about the use of data science to figure out various things. For example, the one that’s most popular is I do a webinar that is called Figuring Out the Best Cities and the Best Neighborhoods in the U.S. to Invest in 60 Minutes, for either single family or multifamily. It doesn’t really matter because it’s the same presentation and it’s a 60-minute presentation with no Power Point. It is just demos of live processes that you can do on the internet and 60 minutes later, you will be practically a genius at any city or any neighborhood in the U.S. because you’re applying data analytics principles.
That’s what I don’t see people do in real estate. They talk about it a lot. There’s a lot of lip service. There’s a lot of glossing over the data. But I don’t actually see people applying data to everything that they do. That’s really the differentiation for me and that’s the differentiation for MultifamilyU.com.
If you’re there, you’ll notice that the presenters that I’m bringing in, they are like me. Ingo Winzer is CEO of Local Market Monitor, is the best company in the U.S. for predicting cities and neighborhoods to invest in.
Brian Hennessey is the author of Commercial Due Diligence, or Due Diligence for Commercial Properties. It’s an Amazon bestseller, and he’s a master at making sure that when you go into an office property or a multifamily property, you actually do your due diligence correctly.
Those are the sort of guys that connect to my ecosystem of 4,000 people that are taking webinars each year at MultifamilyU.com. The focus is really on how do you make good decisions using good data.
Chris: You know what I’m thinking, and I love just chasing this wherever it goes, is I’m listening thinking, this is so cool and such a neat level to come at this at. So, tell me if I’m wrong with this observation. Sounds like some people come on and say, “Okay, well, do exactly as I did and run my path.” Sounds like you’re even a step above that, saying, “Look, here’s what I did because I had this specialty, but because I had this specialty, now I have the MultifamilyU, now I have the Meetup, and now all this stuff is exposed to the audience.” Am I projecting it properly?
Neal: It is extremely exposed. I am very transparent, and I don’t just tell people, “Do what I did.” I tell people, “Do what I did, and it blew up and I lost money, or my investors lost money.” Here I do analytics of my failures more often than I do analytics of my successes, because I find that success is a little bit overrated. It’s fairly that’s really valuable. I’ve failed before. I’ve made huge mistakes before, so I feel that for my audience, it’s more important to know about my failures than my success, but yes, I’m all into showing.
What I don’t want to tell people is, “Do what Neal Bawa does because he’s Neal Bawa.” I want to say, “Do what Neal Bawa does because of these 17 steps, and oh, by the way, I didn’t invent these steps.” These are steps that I’ve learned over time. What I have done is I have taken steps that are buried in books somewhere and I’ve turned them into technologically-easy-to-take steps. I’ve turned them into templates. I’ve turned them into flowcharts. I’ve turned them into Excel spreadsheets. But I’ve turned them into something that you can do on a step-by-step basis without being an expert and without needing to hire me as an expert or a consultant.
Really, it’s meant to be you being independent on your own and that’s what I really like. I do not want people stuck to me because they don’t have the confidence to do things by themselves. I find that almost everything can be broken down into a series of steps.
Chris: It’s interesting. I hear two parallels to my situation. One is the very beginning when you said you weren’t in real estate. You did that through kind of a company and running some commercial buildings that way or to build out. When I grew up in a family company, my dad wasn’t in real estate, it was actually a welding supply, an industrial gas business, but he built his own buildings and then rented them back to himself from his company and that’s what exposed me.
We kind of entered in this very similar fashion, which is unique, and then when you said at the end, the second thing I noticed is you said just then, on that question, nothing that’s not out there, you just compiled all this information and kind of—I’m going to say very facetiously spit it out the other end very, very sophisticated.
I say to people, look, what we do in our niche, it’s not new, it’s been around for decades and decades before we all existed. But what we did is we took it and we put it into a system. Very similar, the way you and I came at this and I didn’t know that, obviously, prior to, this is a live conversation.
I want to go back to the two things, the MultifamilyU and the Meetup. So, the Meetup, talk about that a little bit. You say 4,000 people. Is this all, I’m assuming, a Meetup online? And how often? Like talk about the Meetup a little bit.
Neal: Sure. The Meetup is for the San Francisco Bay Area. We have locations through the San Francisco Bay Area and all of those people come to the Meetups. I do four presentations a year. Once again, very entertaining, very eye candy, because I also believe that when you do presentations, you shouldn’t just be providing high-quality data, you’ve got to make it entertaining.
A mentor that I used to know said, “If you want to teach, start by entertaining.” Make it entertaining. Make it interesting because if people zone out right at the beginning, they’ll never get to your aha moments. I do these very creatively-designed presentations. When I grew up, we were very poor, so I used to do graphics design for movie companies in India and that’s where I learned the skills.
I make these interesting presentations; I deliver them in the San Francisco Bay Area in three or four locations. When I’m done, then I take a smaller version of that presentation and I deliver it online. The audience online is all over the U.S., probably mostly coming from my dozen podcasts, they are coming from bigger pockets, they are coming from YouTube or the other places where my presentations are. I have, I’d say about 2,000, maybe 2,500 people that are actively engaging with us that are not in the San Francisco Bay Area. Then there’s about 5,000 people—or almost 5,000 people—that are in the San Francisco Bay Area Meetup scene and those are people that I meet in person.
To me, these are two different ways of learning and I have some students that actually do both. They’ll come in in person, they’ll get to learn, and then they’ll get to network. Whereas the online folks, I haven’t found an effective way of getting them networking together, but they’re coming into my website constantly to learn the new webinars that I’m putting out.
The key is quality. I mean, I spend 30 to 40 hours of work when I’m locked away with my phone turned off to design one of my webinars.
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Talk to me a little bit about—you mentioned India and growing up poor there. When did you come to the States and what brought you here? I want to make sure we add that to the whole picture.
Neal: Sure. I came in 1997 and I was a technologist and network engineer. Came in here, started working for a network engineering company. A year later, they promoted me to the senior most manager in the company and then I stayed with them all the way to 2013. That’s the company that I built technology campuses for from scratch and that’s where I got my real estate bug. Large classrooms. And what the beauty of it was, I realized that the same large classrooms were empty in the evening, so I got permission from my boss to allow Meetups there.
If you think about how my Meetup group grew very quickly, well, the secret sauce is that people, when they are going to evening Meetups, do not want to go to a crowded office where there’s only space for 20 people and 15 of you are standing. They want to go to a learning environment. Where do we learn best? In a classroom. I had all these huge empty classrooms. My Meetup accelerated and grew 10X faster than everyone else’s because the environment for learning was perfect.
Chris: I love it. I couldn’t agree more. And everything about what you’re telling me and sharing with the audience is all about learning. Talk a little bit about—speaking of learning—what you referenced earlier when you said you can and the audience can learn more from your mistakes, because we all make mistakes, right, Neal? And every guest that’s been on said, “Yeah, I made them. Not only did I make them, but I’m glad I made them and here’s what I learned.”
Maybe talk about one that stands out in your mind as a major, major learning experience and maybe even because of it, the success you created.
Neal: Absolutely. My greatest failure and greatest success were the same project. This is a project that we bought. It was my first syndication project. Isn’t it amazing how many of us learn so much from the first one? Because we simply don’t know what we don’t know.
Neal: We bought this property in Chicago and it was in a neighborhood that I thought was like a C, but actually, the neighborhood was rougher than that. It was a C or a D, depending upon which year we’re talking about.
What I felt was that because it was right next to the area where the Obama Presidential Library was going to be built, in Jackson Park in South Chicago, I was done. I was done because of that. Later on, I realized that Tiger Woods was building a PGA Championship golf course right next to the library. When I say all of this stuff, Chris is thinking, wow, this is really great. Why is he saying that this was bad?
The answer is, because none of those things had happened when I bought the property and none of those things would have gone into construction for another two or three years. What I learned was, you don’t buy bad demographics just hoping for future improvements. You buy based on today’s demographics, today’s tenants, and their ability to pay today. Then you use things that are happening in the neighborhood as your gravy. You use it exit quicker or you use it to exit at a higher dollar number than you projected to your investors, but you don’t buy in a certain area just because something awesome is going to happen four or five years in the future.
The lesson I learned there was demographics. The people that are in that apartment complex do not pay on time. My delinquency is always about 15%. I always have 30-plus evictions going. That churn, that constant eviction, means that my maintenance costs are through the roof.
What I learned from there is, when you’re starting out, the first thing you want to learn is truly understand the demographics of the area. You want to know population. You want to know rent growth. You want to know income growth. You want to know what the real cap rates are at that place. Not the cap rates that brokers are telling you about, but what is really selling in that marketplace and is there distressed inventory? Are there real jobs in this area?
I learned all of these things and I put them all together into my presentations. If you go to MultifamilyU.com/toolkit, there’s a toolkit there and this toolkit is years and years of learning. It’s all of the videos, all of the articles, all of the reports, all of the trends that I have basically captured over time, and the hunger to do all of those things came from my failure with this building. I learned from a colossal failure that I could not, could not, could not ignore demographics.
I thought I was buying below market. As it turned out, I was buying significantly above market. It was a shock to me.
What I realized, Chris, what I’d gotten professional training on, which was my degree was on analytics and data science, I should be applying that to real estate. I thought in real estate you do things differently. Well, actually you don’t. You do the same things; you’re just applying it to a different platform.
It was a huge learning and so for you guys, it’s hard for you to visualize it, but the toolkit is massive amounts of learning gathered over years, just so that you can hopefully not make the same mistake that I made.
Chris: It sounds like if they go to MultifamilyU.com, they can get plenty of information for free and then I’m sure you have courses and other things they can delve into, should they see a fit for themselves. Correct?
Neal: It is. The vast majority of everything that’s on MultifamilyU.com, the toolkit, all of the webinars, both from me and from other presenters, many other industry experts that are in that field, not just a multifamily field, but the real estate field, are all free.
There’s one product that I have on there and that is a bootcamp. It’s a multifamily bootcamp. It’s live online. It’s me teaching online just like this. I actually use Zoom to teach it. That bootcamp is designed for professionals that want to learn about multifamily and don’t have the time to fly to Boston or fly to the San Francisco Bay Area, so it’s live online in the evenings, two successive weeks. I’ve basically poured all of my knowledge of technology and processes and systems into that bootcamp. There is no follow up, there is no coaching, no mentoring, no tapes. There’s no secondary sale.
The biggest promise I make about that bootcamp is that even though it’s 12 hours of very accelerated, dense learning, not one second of those 12 hours will be spent pitching you on anything. You come in; you’ve already paid. The cost is extraordinarily low. I keep it at a thousand bucks. I know that there’s $25 and 50,000 bootcamps in multifamily. I’m not sure why they’re that price. To me, we charge, I believe the price is $1,295 and then we have a $300 coupon, I think it’s called Thrive, that we give away on every podcast.
My goal is, for a thousand dollars, you’re going to know if multifamily is for you. When you finish, you may not be a multifamily expert, but you’re going to know if you want to be one and that is something that is achievable in a thousand bucks.
The second thing you will achieve is you’ll say, “For 12 hours, I learned things that were specific. No fluff, no Power Point, just specific demos, sites, processes, spreadsheets, all of the things that I need to really run a multifamily business. That’s what I learned.”
Those are the two promises that I make, and I keep.
Chris: Well, I appreciate that. For a thousand bucks—I say this all the time, similar to our online platform—anyone in our niche or I don’t care if you’re doing wholesaling or flipping, which is not my niche, for a thousand bucks, to go on, get an education, as Neal said, and then have that in your kind of bag of tricks, so to speak, and then if you want to delve deeper, fantastic, he’ll get you there. And if you don’t, you got a nice education. Time well spent. I appreciate you sharing that.
You’ve been at this, Neal, I think you said since ’03, am I accurate on that? 2003?
Neal: On a part-time basis. I didn’t actually sell my technology company until 2013 and so I haven’t been full-time until after that. But yeah, building campuses was 2003, then built a larger one, 2007, and built many more all the way to 2013.
Single family, the process was 2008 to 2010, and then multifamily investing passive and active starting 2011.
Chris: You got some good background and some good time in the trenches, so to speak. What would you consider to be one of your biggest wins and why? What comes to mind when I say biggest win?
Neal: My biggest win was, that I realized that the multifamily industry in the U.S. is lazy. People are making money. There’s lots of syndicators making money, making 20%, 25% a year for their investors. But I found that the industry is lazy. It’s filled with fat cats who have been doing this for 20 or 30 years. They have all the connections. They know everyone. They have huge knowledge and they’re leveraging their connections and their knowledge to double people’s money all the time, but they’re lazy because they haven’t used technology.
I find that stuff that would get implemented in a technology company in the first six months is not done. I realized this was a place for me and this is a place for all of you listening. If you’re going into multifamily and you have some understanding of technology and processes of technology that we use for efficiency. Let’s say you’ve been doing fix and flips or let’s say you’ve been doing wholesaling. Haven’t you been using lots of software and technology? Well, that stuff, if you take a bunch of it and reapply it to multifamily, you’re going to be ahead of all these fat cats that own 10,000 and 20,000 units, because they’re not doing it.
Time permitting, I can go into a lot of examples of the sort of stuff that I’ve done, that people are just wowed by it. I look at it and say, well, firstly, in other parts of real estate, this stuff is standard. Secondly, in any other technological field other than real estate, it’s no big deal. A whole bunch of people would know what I know, so I’m always taken aback by the fact that people think that I’m something new.
Chris: Well, I’ve got notes upon notes upon notes, so I think this begs that we do an encore interview at some point, no question. In the meantime, they can bridge that gap with getting their butts over to MultifamilyU.com.
I want to jump with you so they, again, kind of see how this whole thing ticks and what makes you tick and get to some passing wrap-up questions. Maybe four or five wrap-up questions.
Give us three or four, two, three, whatever works for you, productive things you do every single day to be the very best at what you do because you seem very, very disciplined, to say the least. Give us some things that we can take away from it.
Neal: I am a robot. I am actually a robot. I need to go through a CT scan to confirm that. So, the most productive thing of the day is not done on the day. It’s done the day before. When you end your day, you need to spend five minutes figuring out what you’re doing the next day. Look at your calendar and write down three things that you want to achieve the next day. It’s very simple, it’s very straightforward. Whenever you write them down, make sure you write them down in the same software. You can use something like One Note. So that each day, you know what the previous day’s things were. Not only do I go write down three things for the next day, I scroll down and see how well am I doing on the three days that I wanted to do the previous days. That’s one of my favorite things to do.
The second thing is, I use a lot of virtual assistants and I strongly suggest that anyone in real estate use them. The first thing that I do every morning is I hold a meeting with virtual assistants. I go through my calendar, I talk about what it is that they’re doing, and we talk about the agenda for the day and what they’re hoping to achieve that day.
Once again, I’m taking up the previous evening’s information, now I’m bringing it to today, and we’re having a meeting that’s specific to those goals.
Then the third thing that I like to do is I like to be organized. People always say, “We never have time to be organized. We’re so busy.” I believe that that is just pure BS. You’re just bullshitting yourself when you say stuff like that. Have a slot in your day where you don’t check email, where you don’t send out quotes. All you’re doing is saying, what do I already know I need, my team needs to do to be more organized. Little things matter.
For example, our team uses a software called Team Sync. It’s installed in Chrome for every single person across the U.S. and the Philippines, which synchronizes our bookmarks. Now, you think about that and say, “No big deal.” No, it is a big deal! Because now every single bookmark on every single Google doc and every single Dropbox doc and every other thing that we do is in one place. That’s all of our bookmarks together. From time to time I’ll go in and reorganize those bookmarks as my company changes.
LastPass. We use LastPass so that every password in our company is shared with the right people, so that as soon as they leave, we can go into LastPass and change those passwords.
Structure is something you think about every day, not once in a month.
Chris: Those things are huge, and I have parallels to each one of this, as usual, from a time standpoint this afternoon, I want to talk about just one and highlight one that you mention. That’s the VAs. We spend now, Neal, about—and we’re just a small family company, the seven of us—we spend 80 to 110 hours, billable, with VAs right now. Sounds like you do that or then some and I just want people to understand that there’s so many different ways to go at that, but every single person I’ve had on the show utilizes VAs in some shape, form or fashion. That’s pretty cool.
Again, a lot of similarities here with what we do and how we build and how we scale. Could you share with us a favorite? Two things actually on the book front. What book are you reading now? Love to hear it. And what’s your favorite real estate book?
Neal: Well, the favorite real estate book, you know, other than Robert Kiyosaki’s book, is Multifamily Millions, it’s a book written by Dave Lindahl, and really got me started into multifamily because it’s a thinker’s book. It’s not going to give you a lot of tools, but it’s going to get you thinking about multifamily and understanding the difference between multifamily and single family and why so much wealth has been created over a thousand years. Keep in mind, multifamily is over a thousand years old as an asset class.
Why so many of the richer people tend to gravitate away from single family towards multifamily. It really helps you think about scale.
Other favorite book? Wow, that’s an interesting one. It’s actually been a while. I need to catch up on my reading. Any book that really talks about how process—The One Thing. The One Thing is actually a phenomenal book, check that one out. It’s marvelous because it focuses you. I find that a lot of really brilliant people are unfocused and so anything that I can read that helps me focus is very beneficial.
Chris: The One Thing has actually been brought up by about 40% of the guests on this show. I read it actually way before I started the show several years ago when we were in Grand Cayman. I read that on the beach, I’ll never forget it. Since then, it again keeps popping its head up. I just finished this weekend The Warrior book, and in that, it’s mentioned numerous times. Super, super valuable book. If the listeners have not grabbed that yet, The One Thing, Gary Keller and I forget his partner, but you’ll find that if you just search The One Thing.
Here’s my last question for you, Neal, and then again, I think this interview begs to do an encore because you have so much information to share, back when you were—because you shared with us India, 1997, I think it was—tell me or tell the audience what the heck you were thinking as a young, say student in your earlier years. I’m talking about grades 1 through 12 or however they had you set up there. What were you thinking you wanted to be? What were you thinking you wanted to do way back then?
Neal: To me, back then, my aspirations were very simple. I just wanted to be a better network engineer and build better networks. I hated living in India, by the way, because after I finished college, I went to work for this big company called Larsen & Toubro and that company was in Mumbai and they had 27,000 employees when I worked there. I would keep submitting suggestions and they wouldn’t go through. All they really cared about is that people show up for work on time, as opposed to changing, doing different things. The change resistance was phenomenal.
Then in my mind, I said, I want to go to the United States because I think people can have more flexibility towards change there. I think I was right because I came here as an instructor, a network engineering instructor wanting to teach, and within a year became the senior most manager in the company because I was constantly harping about the fact that the company was not doing things right. We had seven employees. When we sold the company, we had 400. We took it from 7 to 400 because my CEO, my boss, saw that I had a pension to bring about change, a positive change. He basically went along for the ride and he was very flexible on those sorts of things.
To me, the difference between India and the U.S., and it’s not changed at all in the last 25 years, is this place, it allows change. It accepts change. If you’re the change, people around you are going to flock to you. That’s what I’ve seen, and I absolutely adore my adopted company because of that. Nothing has really changed here. We’re still the greatest country in the world.
Chris: Without me knowing that that was going to be your statement, super, super way to answer that, the latter part of that question. Thank you for being so candid. It sounds like I just want these guys to put a huge explanation point on this story because you went from literally zero, in India, zero real estate experience, to 100 miles an hour and then helping some of the other people take that same path, so really, really awesome, Neal. I appreciate it.
Could you also share, just in case there’s another way besides the website you gave, the best way to reach you and I’ll also include is in the show notes? Or would you just want them to go to the site? It’s up to you.
Neal: I think that the site is really the best way because the philosophy, my philosophy, is that site. My information is actually on the website, so they’ll be able to connect with me very quickly once they go to the site. But I suggest that they start with the trends toolkit. Because you need to understand what’s happening in real estate right now. We are in changing times. I do not believe that this time will come again. It is a very, very unusual time because of what happened in 2008 and everyone needs to understand what that means for their area of real estate.
Chris: I think that’s good for anyone. I think I said earlier in the show, I’m going to do it tomorrow morning, so I think it’s great for anyone to jump on that.
Neal: Well, I’d love to come back, Chris, and talk very specifically about some of the cities and neighborhoods, techniques that I have that I could actually do on the talk and tell people how to pick the right neighborhoods and the right cities in the U.S. It takes 30 minutes and they learn a tremendous amount.
Chris: We’ll jump all over that.
Okay, Smart listeners, my closing thoughts, as always, grab one, two, three, probably more on this interview, action items that you can go ahead and run with. For starters, I would leave this, besides listening to it again and again, and jump on to MultifamilyU.com. I’d jump all over the toolbox idea, just a plethora of amazing information also. Be sure to see the show notes below the podcast if you’re on SmartRealEstateCoachPodcast.com, if you’re not, jump on over there now.
Lastly, if you’re on iTunes, or wherever you are, if you enjoyed the episode, give us a rating. It’s going to help others discover the great information and we greatly appreciate it.
Neal, we appreciate you spending some time with us today. We all have the same 168 hours a week, they go by so fast and they’re so super valuable and you took almost one of those between your prep work and your time with me today, so I appreciate that.
Go off and enjoy and make super productive your remaining 167 and thanks for sharing with our listeners today, Neal.
Neal: Thanks so much. I appreciate you having me on the show.
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