By Timothy Lyons
Study hard and get a good job. Max out your 401k. Buy a house, as it will be your biggest asset. Limiting beliefs. Scarcity mindset. Engineering my life to play small. Content with being middle class. Work harder and longer to see an increase in pay.
I could go on and on but I’ll save you the misery! Shortly after joining the Jake & Gino community I heard Gino speak at one of our weekly Monday Masterclasses and he said something that has stuck with me ever since:
Education x Action = Results
That statement resonated with me in a huge way and it continues to guide my career in multifamily investing. I am a 38 year old father of three incredible little girls, a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department and now a multifamily investor. Until recently I worked “on the side”, like many firefighters do, as an ER nurse at a level one trauma center. I resigned from the hospital to focus more fully on my real estate investing career and that has led to the creation of our real estate investing company – Cityside Capital.
The path here was certainly not linear. Like so many others, it was only after I had realized that I was living my life with a scarcity mindset, a mindset that was engineered for safety and certainty, that I decided change was needed. Change was something that I craved, but I was unclear what it was that I was looking for.
I love my career as a New York City (FDNY) firefighter. It is an honor and a privilege to serve others and to have a huge impact on people’s lives. Let’s face it – when people dial 911 on any given day, they are probably having one of the worst days of their life. The same goes for life in the emergency department of a level 1 trauma center. I have had tons of great days with lots of laughs and good times with co-workers, and unfortunately, I have had a smaller number of incredibly sad and soul sucking days filled with tears, fear, doubt, regret, and anger. I have had days where my team and I brought someone back from the brink of death, fixed a problem, made someone’s day better and even rescued people from burning buildings (See article of winning a medal for saving elderly man from burning apartment- on pg 40). I pride myself on “being in the room” when things are going bad because I can help make a difference.
I’ve got so many stories of surreal experiences that my wife bought me a journal to start capturing some of these events. As fulfilling as being a firefighter and ER nurse was, I knew that there was more that I should be (and could be) doing. I started to feel trapped in the W-2 grind. I found myself working 70, 80, and sometimes 90 hours a week. My family was feeling it – and I was feeling it too. I thought I was living the dream by having a healthy family, two solid careers, a great marriage to my best friend, a solid social network and the bills were getting paid on time with some savings leftover. I was having a positive impact on people’s lives and I had a sense of fulfillment. I’ve always had my finger on the pulse of the markets by reading the Wall Street Journal, personal finance books and magazines, and talking amongst family and friends who were in finance and real estate. I started to listen to some podcasts about real estate investing and immediately felt hooked.
During the summer of 2019, I was on a family vacation to the Outer Banks, NC and I ended up finally reading a book that had remained in my firehouse duffle bag for months without ever being read. That book was Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. Maybe you’ve heard of it?
I read that book in two days while sitting on the beach, building sand castles with one hand and having the book in the other. I couldn’t put it down! When I finished it, I was sitting on the beach next to my lovely wife, Kristina. I closed the book, turned to her and said, “Kris, I have something to tell you.” She responded politely, “Oh yeah Tim, what’s that?”. I continued, “I’m going to be a real estate investor!”. I love Kristina, as she has been such a supportive and loving wife no matter what endeavor I’ve gotten into. She looked across at me with a smirk and said,
“Sure you are Tim…”.
That led to reading and listening to books about real estate, investing, mindset, selling, business, marketing, psychology and more! I used every free minute during the day to listen or read a little bit more. Anytime I was driving, I turned my car into a “university on wheels”, and would continue to consume content. Just four short months later I took massive action and partnered on a three unit apartment building with a friend of mine.
That first property was a thrilling experience! In such a short amount of time I had decided to pivot the direction of my financial future and undertook massive action to make it happen. I knew I didn’t know it all, but I knew enough to jump in, and that made all the difference. My partner and I didn’t know about Jake & Gino’s motto of “buy right, manage right, and finance right”, but we were well on our way to implementing such a plan. In short order we put a new roof and siding on the exterior and renovated the 1st floor vacant unit. We did the work ourselves and it took FOREVER. It was a great experience and it provided a much needed lesson. Alas, we were fully rented and were cash flowing nicely. It felt great to be a real estate investor!
The most important takeaway from that experience was that my wife and I had our much needed proof of concept. We experienced what it was like to have monthly cash flow and we even did better than expected on our tax return. In order to commit more fully to real estate investing, it was important to me that Kristina be on board with the process, even though she did not want an active role in the business.
After only a few months of being a landlord, I quickly realized that buying 100-year-old, wood framed, three-family properties was not really scalable. I had enough capital for maybe one more similar purchase and then I’d be tapped out. I thought about it some more and came to the conclusion that it would be pretty difficult to raise private capital for such a project as well.
That’s when I turned my focus to multifamily investing and coaching.
Growing up in the greater NYC area I have developed a healthy sense of skepticism – it’s sort of built in to our DNA! Realizing this fact, it was hard for me to come to terms with hiring a mentor/coach to learn how to invest in multifamily apartment buildings. I had no idea how much it cost or what sort of ROI it would yield. I was all excited and pumped up – but nervous as anything all at the same time. Is this the right move? Should I really spend money on coaching?
Is this a scam? Oh, the limiting beliefs and little saboteurs in my head were having a field day!
I researched as much as I could on the internet about the different types of coaching/mentoring programs. They all seemed a touch different so I went ahead and called each of them to find out how it worked. I remember making that first phone call to a very well known syndicator and coach. I was listening to a podcast that he was a guest on and he actually gave out his cell phone number at the end of the show! I immediately took out my phone and dialed the number.
“What the heck am I doing?”, I thought to myself.
We ended up having a great conversation as he was so amicable and easy to talk to. He was super encouraging and our life stories both had a lot in common. I felt so relieved that the phone call went so well. What was I so nervous about before making that call? It was at this moment that I knew I was going to go forward with coaching – I just had to find the right fit. After dismissing a few other coaching programs, I got in contact with the Jake & Gino team. From the first minute of the first phone call – I felt as though I found exactly what I was looking for.
From the day I finished reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad on vacation in the summer of 2019, until today, I have moved pretty quickly going from zero units to 190 units and being a co-sponsor in two syndications. I had to dig down deep and find out what was important to me to clarify what my “big why” was. Only then was I comfortable taking the massive action that was needed to get into, and be successful in, real estate investing.