I’ve been told my whole life I wasn’t big enough, smart enough, or fast enough.
I grew up with one dream and one dream only- to play professional soccer. But all my coaches wanted me to be “realistic”. Slender 5’7” guys who aren’t physically specimens rarely make it far in the sports world, they told me.But I learned early on, if you’re the smallest, you better be the toughest. Fearless. Immune to naysayers and doubters telling you all the reasons you’ll fail.
Against all odds, I earned a soccer scholarship to West Virginia University, one of the top Division I programs in the country. Almost immediately, I was playing an important role on the team, which had several future soccer Olympians from across the
But I learned early on, if you’re the smallest, you better be the toughest.
world. Not bad for a guy who’d been told for years to give up.
At the end of my senior season, I realized I had nothing left to prove to myself in the sport. I’d been studying real estate investing in my spare time. And I felt my passion for soccer quickly transferred to real estate. This transition happened during the financial crisis of 2008-9 and my parents had fallen on hard times. My Dad’s business filed for bankruptcy and the family finances were in major trouble.
For the first time, I saw a chink in their armor.
It’s a striking realization the first time you recognize your parents as real people, too- with their own flaws, failures and shortcomings.
I was devastated watching them sell everything, including the family house where my sister and I grew up. They’d sacrificed so much to lift me up over the years and now that they were struggling, I was powerless to help them. I knew that real estate was the answer. So, three days after I graduated from WVU, I moved down to Myrtle Beach, and put all my energy into learning real estate investing.
EVERYONE told me to “get a real job” (even my parents). But I knew a “real job” wouldn’t allow me to help my Mom and Dad. The odds were stacked against me, but at least I was used to it.
So I spent the next 18 months devouring every shred of real estate education I could find. Constantly studying, and implementing. Laser focused on my mission.
Over the next 4 years, I did the impossible (once again). I built a successful real estate investing business, just like I always knew I would. I founded an organization of local real estate investors. I helped dozens of investors across the country start their own real estate businesses. And established a great reputation in the community.
I also partnered up with another “young gun” in the real estate world- a guy named Doug Van Buskirk out of Charleston. But despite all that, something was missing.
“Success” felt hollow. I was burned out from my crazy work schedule. Plus, I didn’t know much about managing business finances. So even though my business was making money, I still wasn’t in a position to help my parents, which was my #1 goal from the start.
I was at a crossroads and, as it turned out, so was Doug. So we attended a business seminar, looking for some answers and direction.
The main speaker wove astounding tales of wealth, power and influence, all of which could be ours if we worked with him, he told us. As I sat in my seat, I thought about my parents’ struggles. I imagined myself paying off their mortgage, sending them a check every month so they never worried about anything ever again.
The price tag for working with him, though? $35,000. Cash. Eeeek. I didn’t have that kind of money. Neither did Doug. So this speaker convinced us how “easy” it would be borrow all that money to pay him, which we did.
The results were…underwhelming, at best, which left us in dire straits financially. A miserable 12-month period went by, as I still wasn’t able to help my parents and now had my own money problems to worry about. I was ashamed and embarrassed.
How could we be so stupid?
I withdrew from friends and social events, mostly because I couldn’t afford to leave the house. I truly felt like a failure and for the first time in my life, I started to question myself.
But I found the silver lining…
Sitting on my back patio on a beautiful Myrtle Beach fall night in 2014, worn out from a long day, it hit me- “I’m a fighter. I thrive on challenge. And fear. And uncertainty. I’ve never thrown in the towel and I sure as hell don’t plan on starting now”.
I’ll be honest, I’ve always been turned off by real estate agents. I’d witnessed a lot of questionable practices firsthand as an investor.
I thought of my parents and the life I’m determined to give them. I knew that real estate was still the best way to do that. Because of market shifts, Doug and I decided to focus on Real Estate Brokering, rather than investing.
I’ll be honest, I’ve always been turned off by real estate agents. I’d seen a lot firsthand as an investor.The overaggressive networking. The hard-selling. The mismanagement of and disregard for clients. It all reminded us so much of the salesman we encountered at that business seminar. Uggh.
So we built Linx Realty Group on a different foundation. Whereas typical agents cold call, beg for referrals, door knock and otherwise harass the public, we believed in treating people like we want to be treated.
Whereas unethical agents disregard client interest for the sake of higher commission, our mission was to fight fiercely to protect our clients by any means necessary. Whereas many agents only focus on business profit, we decided to focus on community impact in addition to growing the business.
A lifelong underdog myself, I get great satisfaction supporting others who are up against the odds. As business grows, I’ll finally be in a position to help my parents, as I set out to do from the start.