After everything I have been through, I feel for the first time in my life I am truly ready to work on being the best version of myself and want to help others do the same in the process. Whether you are an Entrepreneur or not, it is so easy to fall into the trap of having your head down and working harder and harder thinking this will lead you to feeling totally satisfied. I want to tell you that this is just not the case, and hopefully sooner than later you will realize also that there are other areas of your life besides just working and building wealth... like developing the right mindset, creating better relationships and communication, improving your spiritual well-being, working on your health and fitness, and remembering to have fun along the way. It is great to have big dreams and goals that you want to accomplish, but if you remember anything from my story, please take the time to enjoy all aspects of life and especially the journey & process along the way.
Now get out there and “Build Your Empire”!
If you feel this way, I want you to know that you are not alone and I have been through all of these same emotions and experiences myself, and still have them even to this day. I’m sure my story starts similar to yours in the fact that I was once a young person with these big dreams, ideas, and goals that slowly seemed to get further away and harder as time went on. Growing up in a small town in South Louisiana I was blessed though with a great role model, my mother, who was always hard working, loving and caring even though all of the odds were against her. She always tried her best, but as a single mother with limited income and resources, there were a lot of tough times. I am very thankful we made it through financially by being a part of the welfare system which included food stamps and other assistance programs for families like ours. I spent my childhood moving from place to place living with whoever was willing to take us in at the time including grandparents, relatives, and friends. We didn’t have much and times were hard, but looking back it was a blessing to grow up this way and have the type of mother that I had with the courage to not give up and persevere. As a single mother with two small kids, she would fight and push herself every day to make money cleaning houses and offices, while putting herself through college to improve the quality of life for our family. It was a long road, but eventually she was able to graduate, get a great job, and get out of the welfare system to provide for our family without any outside assistance.
I will never forget watching this growing up and seeing all of the struggles she faced every single day, and her ability to get knocked down and keep moving forward. This drive was something I admired, and I realized that if I could work even a fraction as hard as she did, my dreams and goals would be within reach and I could accomplish anything. Throughout my youth, moving from place to place, I spent a lot of time sleeping on couches or pallets on the floor and sharing spaces with other family members. I remember promising myself that one day I would get through this and be able to have a bed, a room, and a house of my own and create the kind of life that we all long for. This created the foundation of my passion for real estate and creating a better life, and I was determined to make this dream a reality.
I always tried to do my best in school, but was pre-occupied working several jobs to help my mother with expenses and get the things my sister and I needed. It started out with jobs around the neighborhood like cutting grass, sealing roofs on mobile homes, washing cars, and any other "odd and ends" to make a few bucks. That Entrepreneur spirit was starting to shine through as I loved working for myself while helping people and making money in the process. As soon as I was old enough, moving into the High School years, I also started working regular employment jobs as well like stocking shelves at Rouses Supermarket, selling snacks at Popcorn, Etc. in the mall, lifeguarding at the YMCA, and even fell into personal training just to name a few. Through all of these jobs I really liked personal training and fitness the best due to the fact that I was essentially able to operate my own business within a larger corporation, so after graduating High School I went to college at LSU to obtain a degree in Kinesiology (Human Movement Science) to learn more and start a career in this field. This opportunity was only possible for me though because of a state program known as TOPS that paid for my schooling and just left me responsible for living expenses. In order to get started, I had to spend the first semester at LSU sleeping on friend’s couch and eating his ramen noodles to get on my own feet. During that semester, I was able to get a job doing construction which gave me the available funds to lease an apartment with another friend and continue to move forward from there.
With the dream of wanting to own my own house one day and the knowledge I gained from working construction, I now wanted it more than ever before. Still in college, I met my beautiful wife now and between some of her resources and my construction experience we were able to buy and renovate a small condo together. This property was in a very low-income area of Baton Rouge, and needed a lot of work before we could move in. With a vision of what it could be, we worked together night and day to rehab this property into our first home together, which also became our first taste of owning a rental property. With an extra bedroom, we leased out the space to friends, and learned very quickly that collecting cash flow on a regular basis was the key to building wealth. We just knew we had to have more of it.
After completing college with a degree, I was ready to take my knowledge and Entrepreneur spirit to the next level. My wife and I started several fitness related businesses that offered personal training, nutrition, supplements, online fitness instruction, and more. We were able to use the income from these businesses to help save for a downpayment on another low-income property in the same area. We had no idea what we were doing and overpaid for a 4-unit building with tons of construction and management problems. We learned a lot of hard lessons along the way but continued to add it to our experience and move forward. Even with all the headaches and long hours we knew it was still the right path to take, so we saved more money and continued to buy other rental properties. We did as many as we could, but eventually we maxed out our resources and bank credit due to our age, experience, and financial backing. Also around this same time, we found that we had reached a plateau in our fitness businesses and the income from these ventures was starting to decline drastically. Within a short period of time, we had to close all of our fitness businesses and continue to generate income from just our regular gym job while trying to build our real estate portfolio. I had many small failures over the years, but having to close these companies we spent so much time and money building left me feeling like we had hit rock bottom.
At this point, our only other option to continue growing this real estate venture was to get creative and find other available resources and/or a business partner for more financial strength. We came across so many people that seemed interested in the opportunity, but before officially committing they all backed out one by one. After being rejected time and time again, eventually we found someone willing to take the risk with us that had similar goals. With this new partner, we were able to start flipping houses (renovating distressed properties and selling them to end buyers for full retail price while making a nice profit) on a regular basis and built a successful business around this concept. As we continued to gain momentum, we also gained the attention of other partners, investors, and associates as well that wanted to get in on the action. This led to starting several other real estate based companies like Empire Trading, YHP Realty, Keystone Residential Management, Empire Plumbing Contractors, and many other ventures.
Like any other company, these business ventures all have had their share of ups and downs, and to this day some are doing great while others are still struggling to just get by. I have had many failures and setbacks over the years, and even still to this day continue to fail over and over again in different areas. I have to constantly remind myself that I’m still that same young kid inside living on that promise to himself to never quit and continue to push forward to create a better life. No matter how hard things might get, I will keep getting back up and keep falling forward until I reach my dreams and goals of building a real estate Empire. The one thing that has changed now in my years of experience, is knowing that no matter how much energy and time I put into my business ventures it will never end and always need attention, and that is why I need to focus on building an Empire within myself as well to feel truly happy and fulfilled.
For as long as I could remember, I spent a lot of my time working to make money to get out of my childhood circumstances, and then spent a lot more time trying to grow businesses to get ahead, and then even more time just trying to keep what I had built. I have finally realized that while working and/or growing a business for money is something we all have to do to survive, I look back and really wish I had spent more time along the way with family and friends just being in the moment. I missed once in a lifetime moments in high school where I should have been involved with different activities, moments in college hanging out and building life-long friendships, and then even missed precious time with my kids trying to get just a little further ahead. It took some hard failures to put everything into perspective, as I was so set on making something of myself and getting ahead as soon as possible, that I forgot about all of the other areas of life that are so special and create happiness and fulfillment as well. I have made a lot of changes over the years to correct this as much as I can, and plan to keep moving in that direction no matter what happens in the future.
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