“Wealth building happens outside of the 9-5”
I am a property investment coach.
I wasn’t a very good student in high school, mostly because I had a very difficult relationship with my parents: we didn’t get on at all. Home life was a constant struggle, which overflowed into my school life. I barely graduated.
After school, I went straight to the army for my compulsory military service. I didn’t like the army either. I mean, it’s not like I was expecting to get a nice ‘thank you’ – I realized I was doing my duty – but the commanders went out of their way to abuse and humiliate us, which cut too close to the bone, reminding me of home.
In protest, I got myself into trouble a lot. Minor things like filling the lawnmower with turps instead of petrol, or pouring paint down the drain. But it all added up and I managed to get myself “fired” from the army after 2 years. It wasn’t an ideal record to have in Israel, but I didn’t care.
A lot of my friends were looking at going to uni to study 3 years, and then into jobs that would take another 3-4 years before they started earning decent money. But because I had zero support from my family, and nothing to my name, I needed to do something that would allow me to get on my feet much quicker than that.
I researched various professions and salaries and saw that with IT, I could study less years and be able to make a decent living within a couple of years.
So I enrolled in a two-year programming course.
I am not mathematically oriented, but I am hard working so I was successful at it.
My real passion always lay in helping and working with people.
But before doing that, I needed to put myself in a position to be able to help.
I started working as a programmer in Israel. Programmers work with clients who request a specific program or application that will perform actions to suit their needs. We write the code and make sure the program works. I enjoyed the challenges the job presented.
One day my auntie visited from Australia, and told me about life there. I liked what I heard, and she suggested I could come and stay with her a while to see if I liked it.
So at age 28, I went to Melbourne to stay with her, although we moved to Launceston a few months later. My auntie used to manage a Liberty service station, so I worked there with her. I couldn’t start working in IT straight away, being in a new country.
I loved Australia. I loved the mentality, I loved the way people interacted with one another, giving each other personal space and respect.
After 6 months, I left my auntie’s place and I returned to Melbourne. I only had twenty dollars to my name, and nowhere to go. Luckily I found an Israeli community, who helped me find a labouring job and basic lodgings.
I laboured on building sites during the day, and at night I was sending my CV to all the IT companies in Australia and New Zealand.
Eventually, I had a phone interview with a company in Dunedin, in New Zealand, and they offered me the job and a sponsorship visa.
I moved to Dunedin to work at this company, programming in a web environment. My job was to design a part of an application that enabled real estate agencies create slick ads for their properties.
It was challenging work, and at times I felt out of my depth. I also realized after talking to my boss one day that I put the wrong number of years of experience on my CV – 1 or 2 more than I should’ve.
It was an honest mistake, and I owned up to him as soon as I realized.
I then met someone who opened a new IT company that specialized in building new and improving under-performing websites for clients. I worked there for 3 years and really enjoyed it, due to the great people who worked with me. I am still friends with some of them to this day.
Unfortunately, the company didn’t do too well financially, and had to shut down. Because some of the clients I worked with there still needed IT support, I teamed up with a web designer from the same company, and worked as a self-employed consultant for another 3 or 4 years.
Then I got an opportunity to join Forsyth Barr, a large national investment advisory.
I moved from pure programming to business analysis. Essentially, my job was to meet with a client whose company or department might be having operation problems, and analyse their business processes and procedures to try and find the root of the problem. Then I would come up with solutions on how various software might help them.
I would then write the functional specification for such software, which is a document that can be hundreds of pages long.
It specifies exactly what the system will do, every button, every screen function. It is then given to a programmer to code.
I enjoyed this role more than others because there was a real element of helping people involved.
I could see how my work made people’s work lives easier.
I was with Forsyth Barr for nine years, during which I got a transfer to Auckland.
Eventually though, I realized that I felt ready to quit IT and do something else.
By this time, I was already investing in property, both in Dunedin and Auckland.
I always wanted to invest, to grow my wealth.
It didn’t make sense to me to just earn money and spend it. I suppose this drive originated early, as I knew from a young age that I didn’t have a family support option. I knew if I fell sick and couldn’t work, that’d be it for me. There was no safety net.
So this is why I always wanted to be financially secure.
I researched all the usual ways of building wealth; shares, currency exchange, property. I felt with shares, you had no control over your investment. You buy a share and then hope like hell the CEO of the company knows what they’re doing.
Also, you don’t have leverage. If you have 100K, you buy 100K worth of shares. If you’re lucky and they go up ten percent, you’ve made ten grand.
With property, a 100K lets you control a million bucks worth of property. If that goes up ten percent, you make a hundred grand. That made much more sense to me.
So, I read lots of investment books and bought two properties in Dunedin. It wasn’t the best start to my investment journey, as Dunedin didn’t have good capital growth. I sold the properties in four years, for only ten thousand more than I bought them for. It was a waste of time.
When I came to Auckland, I joined a group called Ronovationz, led by property investment coach Ron Hong Fong.
I heard Ron talking at an APIA conference and really liked his honesty, integrity and knowledge. Joining the group was one of the best decisions I’ve made.
Ron’s approach was to buy undervalued properties in central Auckland, renovate them and rent them out. With Ron’s guidance, I bought 8 properties in under 3 years.
Ron taught me how to find undervalue properties and buy well, improve them by modernizing and often adding an extra bedroom, which improved the rent and capital value. Using these techniques, I was making between a hundred and hundred and fifty thousand profit on each property purchased.
During that time I was still working at Forsyth Barr. I needed the job to pay bills and service loans, but it was doing my head in, as on each property deal, which took me around a month or two to complete, I was making more money than I made in my job in a year.
At Ronovationz, I met Clifford, who was a fellow student and IT worker.
We realized that we both wanted to change direction and get out of IT. We decided to go into business together, and quit our jobs.
We didn’t know what kind of business though. We read a lot of books, including a Brad Sugars book that recommended finding an underperforming business, maybe one that was just covering its costs, buy it cheaply and improve it. It wasn’t dissimilar to what we were doing with property investment, so we started looking for such a business to buy.
We ended up buying a chocolate factory company that specialized in printing custom designs on chocolate, called Chocolate Graphics. The concept was to personalize chocolates with business brands and messages.
We also got ourselves a business coach, because we knew we didn’t have much experience in the business world and wanted an experienced coach to guide us. This approach worked so well for me in properties, so I wanted to implement the same model here.
Getting a business coach is a leap of faith: you don’t have enough knowledge yourself to assess their knowledge, otherwise you wouldn’t need them.
Unfortunately for us, we realized too late that our coach wasn’t as good as he claimed, and didn’t have what it took to guide us to success.
After a year, we realized that as a start up business, it was going to take a lot more time and money than I expected in order to become very profitable.
For me, the greatest concern was opportunity cost.
While we were struggling to get the business off the ground, I was losing money I could’ve otherwise been earning working in IT or investing in properties full time.
In the end, though I really enjoyed working with Clifford, we agreed to part, and he bought me out.
That’s when Ron approached me to join Ronovationz as a coach.
He was the only coach up until then, so I was the first person he asked, based on a good working relationship we had developed over the years.
As a coach, I teach and help students to invest in properties. I provide hand in hand support for students throughout the whole investment process.
We meet as a group 2 days a week, to go ‘on the road’.
We pile into cars and go and look at properties for sale. We analyse the numbers, look at improvement opportunities, discuss deals. Also once a fortnight we meet for a class discussion.
On top of that, I am available to each one of my students 24/7.
It can be for a phone conversation, to go see a property, do due diligence, source finance, help with renovations – anything at all. They can call at any time, and some do! I get calls at 10pm, midnight.
I don’t mind the late calls. If people are calling so late, I know it’s important.
They are excited. Maybe they just saw an amazing property and they want an opinion. Or there might be something on their mind; a great idea, or a worry: what if the interest rates go up, or my tenants leave? I talk them through everything, give advice, provide practical assistance.
Currently I have 25 students. There are around 500 students in the group as a whole, and since I’ve started, a few more coaches have joined Ronovationz.
The best coach is someone who has already achieved what you want to achieve.
Otherwise, they are teaching theory, it’s not helpful. I have my 9 properties, I am helping people to achieve the same, and more.
I get so much more pleasure from this job than I did from IT. I am doing what I’ve always wanted: helping people. I get a huge satisfaction from seeing my students succeed. It’s so important to me that each one of them does.
So far, I’ve had a hundred percent success rate with my students, meaning they have all bought a property, or properties, that made over $100,000 profit on each purchase.
This is definitely a source of pride to me.
The way I see it, most average people will reach retirement with maybe their house paid off, and possibly a hundred or two thousand dollars put aside in superannuation. 65 is so young. That money is going to go fast, and then what? Government gives you $380 a week, that’s just enough to survive, but not to live well.
Through the investment, we’re teaching people to provide for their future, and not rely on being tied to work, or the government pension. It’s important to realize that your 9-5 is important to survive and thrive in the present.
But wealth building happens outside of the 9-5.
My goal for the future is to continue setting up as many people as I can for security and success.
My personal goals are to build a great reputation as a coach and take on more students, and to continue growing my property portfolio. I am aiming for around 25 properties with a net passive income of $200,000 per year and a capital growth that will double every 10 years for the rest of my life.
Longer term, I would like to achieve financial independence and no longer have to worry about making money for myself.
When I reach that point, I can focus solely on my passion for helping humans.
I might one day work in a certain capacity with special needs people, or children. Obviously that’s something you need special training for, and it’s not something you do for money. So once I reach my personal goals, and put myself into a position where I can help others, I will focus on doing that full time.
I’ve learned through experience how important it is not to succumb to our fears.
If we’re in a job we dislike, and we’re ready to move on – don’t let fear stop you. Now, I don’t mean quit your job without any planning or preparation. But I’m saying, think it out, plan it – and then take action.
You can’t make your time on earth any longer, but you can improve its quality and shorten the number of years you work. Work takes up such a massive chunk of your life, so if you’re doing something you don’t like, or even hate, you’re condemning yourself to a life of misery.
I also think it’s very important, when you give yourself something, when you better yourself, to then let it flow on to others.
I think if your life is solely focused on earning more for yourself and improving only your own situation, it makes for a very limited life. Giving, sharing, enhances not just others’ lives, but more so our own. That’s something I’ve always felt and still try to live by.