I hate being the center of attention. Rather than have a big wedding with everyone staring at us, my wife and I eloped. When receiving recognition for accomplishments I’m the worst, a small awkward shuffle with a sheepish grin and nod. Birthdays however are my kryptonite. The idea of throwing a party in my honor is just something I have never big on. For me, that date lands square in June and when it rolls around each year I’ve never felt like it’s something worth celebrating. This June is different though. I feel like there’s true cause for a celebration. It’s Wildhorn’s 1st birthday.
372 days ago, I quit my high paying corporate job
to focus all my energy on building out Wildhorn Capital, a multifamily real estate investment firm. For those of you who haven’t been following our story, I started investing in real estate nearly 10 years ago
at a strictly personal level. Property by property as our portfolio grew and I learned more about the business, I became increasingly obsessed with mastering every facet about it. Each success (and failure) in my own portfolio was a necessary experience, building myself up until I ultimately decided I was ready to bet on myself. It was time to go full time into being a real estate entrepreneur. I made that decision about two years ago, but it was last June when I actually left my job.
Looking back over the past year, I can honestly say that it’s been the most liberating and rewarding year of my 17 year’s drawing a paycheck, and it ranks very highly up the list of my (now) 38 years on the planet. It’s not too far of a stretch to say I haven’t experienced personal growth and development at this rate since I was learning to walk and talk as a toddler. As one of my mentors says, I’m now officially “unemployable”, meaning I’ll never work for someone else again. Don’t get me wrong, stepping away from my job was a daunting decision, and this last year hasn’t been all unicorns and rainbows. There have been plenty of challenges, sleepless nights and self-doubt that I’ve had to overcome. As we cross this milestone, I want to highlight the highs and lows we experienced over the last year.
One of the goals I’m working on is to celebrate wins—I’m a pretty terrible loser and usually don’t stop to congratulate myself so today I’m going to start with the high points.
We’ve been crushing the tangible goals that were set for this first year. These include:
- First and foremost we were awarded and closed on 2 large apartment deals totaling 445 units. Getting awarded that first deal was a huge hurdle to overcome and a big confidence booster. We started the year with a $6mm personal portfolio, and today stand at nearly $70mm of real estate that we control.Successfully raised over $16mm in capital in just 6 months. This was my biggest question going into this new venture—would we be able to raise money. I understood the value add real estate game, but we had never raised money from outside investors. So far, so good.
- We built out the Wildhorn team to support our vision. This all started with solidifying the relationship with my business partner—we know our lanes, leverage our strengths and communicate well. With that in place, we have been able to attract analysts to underwrite deals, a crack Property Management Team we can trust, and a General Contractor who is at the top of his game.
- Super charged my network with over 100 lunches and 200 coffee meetings with investors and partners (and countless phone conversations with people across the globe). In the process, I realized that making meaningful connections with people is my favorite part of the job and something I look forward to every single day.
- Built the Wildhorn brand by speaking at a conference for apartment syndicators, appearing on over 10 podcasts and publishing 19 articles.
This is where the real transformation has happened, and where I feel like I’m a new man—inside and outside of my career and profession.
- Working by the pool at my son’s regular 3:30 PM swim practiceHaving at least 10 quality minutes to talk with my daughter right when she gets off the bus
- Integrating regular weekday golf into my business/life mesh
- A completely new and energized outlook about the future—there are no restraints to what we can accomplish and build. This is not a feeling I ever had as an employee. The best I could hope for was another promotion, a bigger bonus, a better team. Now, I’m in the driver’s seat and I have the genuine feeling we can do anything we put our mind to.
- Working with a life and business coach has helped my efforts tremendously. I’ll have a coach for the rest of my life. I’m constantly having my thoughts and beliefs challenged and supported, and it keeps me in constant go and grow mode.
Remember, I said it hasn’t all been unicorns and rainbows? I’ve struggled with several different things on my entrepreneurial journey this year, and very few of them have been related to real estate. In my conversations with other entrepreneurs, I don’t think these are unique to me. But they have been ongoing adjustments and struggles that I’ve dealt with (and in some cases am still dealing with).
Can you do this? Will you be successful? We walked away from our job before we had replaced our income. So I was betting on myself and had confidence we’d succeed. But there were many times I stressed and worried if we’d made the right decision, but laying out a plan for every day, every week and staying consistent in our actions,Getting comfortable with lumpy income. It was stressful the first few months as you watch every other Friday come and go and the bank account not growing. But now, we’re used to the distribution schedule from our properties and how we’re able to put food on the table. Struggling with work/life balance. I love to talk about #lifebydesign, but it takes a ton of work and planning to pull off, and if I’m being totally honest it’s something I work on every day. Overcoming the thought that if I’m not working I’m not growing the business. Getting back to emails immediately. Following up with brokers. There always seems to be something I should be doing. Several times this year my wife has had to call me out for not getting out for a date night. I’m typically working 5-6 nights a week after the kids to go bed, but looking for the opportunities to weave in downtime during the day and construct a true #lifebydesign.
When I sit back and reflect on the last year, we’ve got a lot to be proud of. And a lot to still work on. What I’m most grateful for is the fact that we took the risk, and have found and created a better quality of life because of it. Deciding to quit your job and start a new business is a huge decision. But, if you are reading this and considering taking that step—whether in real estate or some other field—I would encourage you to do it. Bet on yourself. Figure out a way to give yourself 6 months, a year, two years to get it going. It will be a lot of work and require you stretch in ways you haven’t even thought of. But now, I’ve got something truly worthy of celebration each June.
For those of you on the edge, feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to talk about it.