You may know why I got involved in real estate, but a lot of you were asking me, how did I actually do it? In this video, I’m going to share exactly that:

I want to help you understand not just why I’m involved in real estate investing, but how did I actually get started with real estate investing, and what’s happened to me since then?

If you’ll allow me, I’m just going to take a step back, because if you don’t know me, I just want you to understand I’m a guy from the Midwest of the United States. I’m the product of two parents who never went to college. They worked really, really hard and did a lot that they could for us to make sure that we had access to right schools and things like that, so I did have access to great schools, and just watched my parents work really, really, really hard. As a result, I ended up going to college a couple hours away from the place I lived. I have two college degrees. My parents are really proud, so that makes me happy. Right? It kind of gives the chest puffy when I see them smile, so that’s exciting.

I’ve had a chance to travel a lot in the world, and that’s helped me to … Well, just, I guess, it’s helped to change my perspective or mold my perspective on the world. As a result, I left the United States. I’ve been living in Europe now for about 17 years between Spain, Italy, and France, and like a lot of people, I had done all the things that I was told to do. I’d invested heavily in the stock market and was working to climb the corporate ladder. Right? In the middle management. I’ve always worked in multinationals, so like big brands, IT brands, travel brands, and companies like Maritz, companies like Dell, companies like Computer Associates, and companies like SAP.

These big multinationals, right, they have all things in common. Great environment, great learning opportunities and things like that. It’s also given me a chance to work and travel throughout Europe. Because of that, I’ve heavily invested in the stock market, and I guess in 2000 and again in 2008, I took my bumps and bruises and had big losses in my portfolio and got really, really frustrated. It was one of those things where if it happens once, shame on you. If it happens twice, shame on me. That happened to me twice, and I lost a lot of my financial health in things that I couldn’t control.

As I go back and start thinking about this, it literally was one day, like a 24-hour period, that really got me involved in real estate investing. I’ll remember living and working in Barcelona, Spain. This was about 2008, and I’d just come back from a business meeting, and I still can’t remember if I was coming back from London or coming back from Johannesburg, but it was one of those days where I’d started early in the morning on a flight, and then I was flying back in to Barcelona late in the evening, but I remember running to the airport. I was ready to get to the airport. I thought I was going to miss my flight. I was sweating. I was exhausted, and then got on the plane and just kind of collapsed. Then when I got to Barcelona, it was one of those things where I walked out, you could smell in the airport it was definitely in the airport, people were still smoking at the time, which was a little bit strange. I got in the cab, just completely exhausted, checking my emails on my BlackBerry at the time, and finally made it home.

When I made it home, actually here in the place where I am right now, I was just exhausted. I was talking to my girlfriend at the time, now my wife, about the day, and we were planning on getting married, and we were going through marriage planning activities, and I was coming back, and my brain was in five different directions and things like that. We did the planning, and then I remember just going back to bed, but right before I went to bed, I was checking my phone, right, just making sure that there were no messages that I had to get out or anything like that, and then collapsed.

Then the next morning, I had a meeting with my boss. I like to be one of the first people into the office, and as I got into the office, I had to get to the coffee corner, wanted to go get my nice cup of hot coffee, talking about what was going on, and then I had a business meeting, and so a meeting with my team. In that meeting, of course, I get into the meeting. I’m holding my laptop. I set my laptop up and flip it up, and the room, there’s lots of lights, and people are walking in one by one, sitting around the table. We’re looking at PowerPoint slides and Excel spreadsheets, and people checking their phones.

I just remember in that meeting, so worried because I had to get to the next meeting.  My 10 minutes at the end of this meeting, I’m thinking about the next meeting, and I’m running down the hall. We finished that meeting, and I’m going in to meet my boss, and when I run in to meet my boss, of course, I wanted to be there early and make sure that all of my numbers were in order and things like that. My heart’s racing and pounding. My head’s spinning, and I go in, and I just remember seeing my boss who’s responsible for the entire sales organization so calm, so cool and collected.

He starts asking me how the wedding plans are going before we get into the business and I tell him, and he was talking about the stock market, and I was telling him how my stock had just crashed. At that point, I was around 30% of the value that I’d lost, and I just remember him being so cool. He was talking to me about also retirement planning and things like that, and he started talking to me about real estate. Now, this was a guy from Scotland who was living in Barcelona, and he was buying real estate back in Glasgow. I thought, “This is kind of weird,” and then he started talking about concepts like arbitrage, which is basically kind of like if you see something for a dollar and you buy it for 50 cents, the difference in the middle, that 50 cents, that’s arbitrage.

He was actually using euros to buy properties in pounds back in Scotland. He was explaining it to me, but basically, he was explaining to me how his retirement was working, and I thought to myself, “Wow, you know what?” This was right at the time of my life where I was really, I was working on climbing the corporate ladder. I was interested in buying really expensive watches, like 1,000-euro watches. I wanted to go out and buy all the nice dinners. My girlfriend and I were traveling around and having nice trips, and I wanted to keep doing all that stuff, and at the same time, I knew that we were going to be getting married soon, and so I was a bit nervous about how life would change, and I was nervous about whether I would be an adequate father. I was concerned as to whether or not I’d still be taking all kinds of crazy trips all around Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Would I be around for my kids or not?

There was this trepidation even thinking about marriage and going into that, and I just remember thinking about my boss and his calmness and thinking and talking about real estate. It was something that was tangible and that he was able to do, and I thought to myself, “This would be kind of cool to actually maybe move from the stock market, look at something that was a little bit simpler,” and something where I could actually get my hands on, and so at that point, I started thinking to myself, “I want to build a plan so that I can figure out how to make real estate a part of my portfolio.” I literally went to, I started just completely geeking out on podcasts even back in this time, like I was finding podcasts. I was going to YouTube, finding videos. I started buying books like Rich Dad Poor Dad, and I literally put together a plan, or I’d said that I wanted to put together a plan to actually do that. Right?

Now, life kind of got in the way, and I didn’t do as much as I thought I was going to do, but eventually I came back to real estate. Right? It was actually in 2012, I literally, all that knowledge that I’d been taking in and over and over, I literally put it down in a plan, and I actually, I had to bring this, like literally I put together a plan. I don’t know if you can see this, but this plan I wrote in October 2012 that basically said, “Through real estate investments, I want to create a four-figure positive monthly income stream, which will allow me to fund additional investments in the next five years.” I wrote that plan now.

That’s what I wanted to be able to do, and so it didn’t take me actually five years to create that, but by working really hard and being able to build networks and work with people, I was able to not only do that in less time, but it was great because I got this feeling of like accomplishment because the goals that I’d set out for myself and my family, we were able to get those accomplished in less time, but I guess the real thing that I learned from the whole experience was that I was able to use a lot of the same skills that I had already built in the multinational and from friends and family that I had around me to be able to also use those same skills to be able to start to have, guess what, a more, I guess, more income that was a predictable stream of income through real estate.

By being able to have more income, it allowed me to make better decisions on how I was using my time. Where I invested my time and energy, because I knew that I had income coming in. Ultimately, it’s helped me to live with a lot less stress in my life. I would have never thought about that if I would have just gone back to that original conversation when I walked in the room when my boss was completely calm.

The thing that I would say to you is, in the exact same way that I went through that to help me understand how real estate investing has become such an important part of my life and now affecting many, many other lives from people where we’re now providing housing, to people that are now investing with us as a company, and people that are also being educated through my experience. It’s been fantastic, and it’s one of those things where I want to continue to share that. Some of you have asked why I’m in real estate, and I wanted to share a little bit more about how I got involved with it Just wanted to be able to share a little bit more about how I got started with you.

This is Billy Keels. This is my two cents for today. And as always, Hasta la Próxima!

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