RElationships: Q&A with Adventurous REI’s founders, Suzy Sevier and Michael Barnhart

Suzy Sevier and Michael Barnhart started Adventurous REI to help others achieve what they believe is the greatest ROI: Return on Impact. They want others to start enjoying life and leave an impact now, not later. I first connected with Michael Barnhart last August, and he inspired me to build a team and start utilizing the BRRRR strategy (Buy, Rehab, Rent, Refinance, Repeat) to purchase real estate in Oklahoma City from San Diego. 

Michael and Suzy are unique because not only are they business partners in real estate, but they also are married and invest in the United States while living in Europe! Michael and Suzy were kind enough to share their time with me and answer some questions about their business, their legacy, and their fantastic new podcast The Adventures of a Real Estate Investor

How did you get started in real estate?

Suzy – We got started in real estate because of COVID-19 and the lockdowns. We did not know how long the first lockdown was going to last but we knew we needed to find something to do during this time.  We decided to start a mini book club with one another. The first book we read was Slight Edge By Jeff Olsen.  We loved it so much that we bought some of the books that were on his recommended reading list. One of those books was,  Multiple Streams of Income by Robert Allen. A few chapters in, there is a chapter on real estate, and Michael asked me to skip straight to it. After I read it, he said let’s try this and I said okay!  From there we started listening to all the podcasts and reading all the books. We searched as many online forums as we could because we realized that so much of the space had gone virtual. We knew that it was a great opportunity for us to get into real estate because we had all the same opportunities at this point as everything else did from anywhere in the world. 

What software or tools do you use in your business that provide significant value to you?

Suzy –  The tool that we use in our business that brings significant value is a project management tool called Asana. Everyone in our team has access including the property management staff. This has eliminated the long strings of emails. We can all see the tasks that need to be completed, we can take notes on those tasks, we can add attachments to the tasks such as bids from vendors. It clears up so much miscommunication in regards to when tasks are to be completed because there is a function to add “due dates.” The software has streamlined a lot of our processes. 

What do you want your legacy to be?

To create a ripple effect where people have been inspired to positively impact someone in their life at least 1% every day.

How do you balance working together on real estate with being married? 

Suzy – Our why and our passions are so intertwined, but the balance is just there. We truly are best friends and so there was no way that it was out of the question that we are going to do this together. We actually think it’s easier to work together because we are married. We still need to communicate effectively as a business partnership would and we still have expectations for one another, as a business partnership should. We have the advantage though because we have created a safe space where being intimate and vulnerable is valued. 

How do you balance owning and operating a real estate company while active duty and living on a different continent?

Michael – I don’t sleep. Just kidding. But in addition to the real estate investment firm, we actually own an eCommerce business and a Land Rover Defender import business as well (got to have those additional income streams!). So, we spend the majority of our free time and weekends hustling. We chose not to have a TV because of the distraction it causes. We would rather spend that time working on our businesses or working on personal growth or just spending quality time with each other. We wake up early, at or before 5 am, and knock out our morning routine (read, journal, meditate, and exercise) and then get straight to work on the business. Suzy and I both work the traditional 9 am – 6 pm hours and then when I get home at 6 pm, I jump straight into working on the business again until 10 pm or sometimes even midnight. The great thing about being overseas is that we get to take advantage of the time difference. When I get home from work at 6 pm, it is only 12pm in my market. Therefore, I have 6 more hours to work during their “business day” so I can call brokers, lenders, and other vendors during their normal working hours. Also, the silver lining to COVID is that it has forced a lot of things to go virtual so, being overseas, we were able to take advantage of that. We were able to attend conferences and meetups that would have normally been in person, and we were able to network 1-on-1 with a lot of potential investors. But to wrap up this answer, to create a “balance” we are always working on systematizing our businesses so that we can hire out the $10/hour tasks, which frees up our time to focus on the $10,000/hour task. We currently have two assistants; one that helps us with everyday tasks and one that does all of our video editing. And of course, we are not editing our own podcasts. We are just recording, and our team does all the rest. 

Photo credit: Gregory Ballos

How did you put together a team for your Tulsa multifamily projects?

Michael – Networking and having intention going into meetups and conferences. We started posting about our real estate experience on social media and a connection of mine reached out and wanted to chat about my experience thus far. I had known him for 15 years as we went to prep school and the academy together so the know, like, and trust factor had already been established. He became our “boots on the ground,” and because of that, we then had a market to tell others we were in. Once we started going into meetups stating our market, organic introduction occurred and from those introductions, we met our mentor. The other partners on our team were also met through various meetups and mastermind groups.

Just get yourself out there, no one knows what you are doing until you tell your story. 

Why did you decide to start a podcast? 

The podcast had always been something we wanted to start but “didn’t have enough time for”. Our original goal was to have it started by the end of 2021. But as we started to become guests on others’ podcasts, that exposure from the podcast world was something we were missing. In order to truly have our message be heard, we needed to start our podcast sooner.  During our 1:1 calls, we have found that many people are motivated by creating an impact, whether they realized it or not. We wanted to create more exposure about the amazing good that people are doing for themselves and their family while leveraging real estate investing. It has really been a blessing to help others see that they were born to make a difference in this world. 

What advice do you have for military members and veterans out there who are interested in real estate investing?

Michael – Just do it! Learn about all the different types of real estate investing and decide which one best fits your personality. Then, learn everything about that niche of investing and start taking consistent action day after day. Even though it may not seem like you are making any headway each day, those actions are compounding on each other, and then one day – boom! – you’ll be exponentially growing! Pro tip: start documenting all the systems and processes from the start so that when you hit that exponential growth you can hire that out immediately so you can continue growing.

For me, I enjoy being a program manager and leading teams to accomplish large goals. Therefore, I really enjoy being the lead sponsor for multimillion-dollar acquisitions. Not to mention the impact that we get to have on a larger number of residents across the apartment communities that we acquire. Our whole focus is on a different ROI – Return On Impact. What impact do you want to make?

How to find them:

All of their info and social links to connect with them can be found here: https://adventurousrei.com/info

Check out their podcast which focuses on a different ROI – Return On Impact: https://adventurousrei.com/podcast

Check out their YouTube Channel that will focus on multifamily real estate education and mindset. It launches 1 July 2021 and will have 2 mini-series ready to view, one on acquiring a multifamily asset and the other on asset management. Check it out here: http://bit.ly/AREI_YouTube  

RElationships: Q&A with Proper Pivot’s Founder, Justin Melendez

Justin with his wife Pamela and daughter Audrey

Justin Melendez is an active duty Army warrant officer, real estate investor, and founder of Proper Pivot, LLC . He has experience with buy-and-hold investing, short-term rentals, and flips, with a focus on the Fayetteville, North Carolina market. He lives in Augusta, GA with his wife Pamela and daughter Audrey. 

What is your ‘why’?

The military has been a demanding job for me over the last 10 years with training, overseas deployments, and unpredictable schedules, and will continue to be demanding until I retire in roughly 10 years. So it’s important for me to earn passive income to give me more free time with my family. I have a wife and one daughter right now, and potentially more children in the future. I don’t want to have to do a W-2 job to support my family and trade time for money. I want to earn money on my own terms. 

How did you get started in real estate?

My wife and I bought our first property in North Carolina in 2013. We started out living on base like many others were doing, but we wanted the opportunity to put our money towards something that could grow, rather than just give our housing allowance to base housing. We lived in that first property for 3 years but realized we needed something bigger so we looked into selling it, but the home’s value did not increase enough for us to break even on the property. This encouraged us to look into renting the property. We realized we could rent out the home for a few hundred dollars more than our mortgage payment so we decided to rent it out instead of sell the home. 

Around this time I was introduced to Dave Ramsey, the personal finance radio personality. He stresses the importance of controlling your spending, having a budget, and limiting all debt except for your home mortgage. Soon after that, I was introduced to Bigger Pockets by a friend at a going-away party who owned several out-of-state properties, and it was that intro to the Bigger Pockets world that really set off a spark for me to learn about real estate. Chad Carson’s book “Retire Early with Real Estate” was inspiring for me as well. 

Why did you start your real estate company: Proper Pivot?

Starting a real estate/investing company was never something I dreamed about or wanted to do. I never even considered a career in real estate when I was younger. However, I realized after I did my first flip that I should form an entity to do business correctly. It was a profitable flip, but the finances were messy and I should have structured it in a way to protect myself better. Since it was successful, I wanted to do more flips, and I knew the right thing to do was to form an entity and go through the process of learning how to start and run a business successfully. Proper Pivot is a reflection of my family: me and my wife and my daughter investing in real estate through this company. 

How did you decide on the name Proper Pivot?

I’m an IT nerd by trade: computers and networks are my thing. In cyber-security, a pivot is when you move laterally within a network. The name is a reflection of this concept and how that applies to me and my family. There are so many ways to be successful in real estate, so I wanted to keep that concept in mind when we created Proper Pivot. We will continue to adjust and be flexible throughout this journey to be successful and achieve our long-term goals. Regarding the Proper Pivot logo, I knew I wanted a nerdy spin on that concept and apply it to real estate, hence the glasses and house in the logo. 

What software or tools do you use in your business that have provided significant value to you?

I have a list of tech that Proper Pivot uses in the business. If I had to narrow that list down to two that provide the most value, the first would be REIReply. It has provided the most monetary benefit for us since we started using it. We have acquired 3 properties with REIReply – one we kept as a rental, and two we have wholesaled to other investors. (REIReply is a marketing platform used by wholesalers and real estate investors to source leads with motivated sellers. Features include text messaging, cold calling, ringless voicemail, email, and it has a robust CRM (customer resource management). 

Also, Dealcheck.io is a great website and app we use to analyze properties. We can look at comparable properties, the report generation tool is more aesthetically pleasing than many other websites that do this, and it’s relatively inexpensive. The app is highly functional too, so we can drive around neighborhoods, plug in our numbers, and get a clear idea very quickly of whether a property will work for us or not. 

Dealcheck.io actually helped me lock up a deal in a matter of minutes. A wholesaler had just listed a property on Facebook, so I messaged him about it and he gave me the code for the lockbox. I went over to the property and looked it over, ran the numbers through the dealcheck.io app, and sent him an offer which he accepted. If it wasn’t for that app, I wouldn’t have been able to act so quickly on that property. 

What do you want your legacy to be?

The term ‘legacy’ seems profound, but put quite simply, as the son of an immigrant and a product of the lower middle class, I aspire to influence the culture within my family as it relates to wealth and money. Ultimately, I’d like to build off of the hard work that came before me and continue to put this family in a better position to succeed and be free. If it all goes right, and I have some cycles to spare, hopefully I leave valuable assets behind for my children to leverage. 

I hope you enjoyed this interview with Justin Melendez, founder of Proper Pivot LLC. Make sure you check out his website and follow him on Instagram and Facebook @properpivot!

Should You Join a Mastermind Group?

About one month into my Iraq deployment last year (2019), I got an email from a friend about a real estate-focused mastermind group for military members and veterans. I found this intriguing, as I had recently read the book Tribe of Millionaires by David Osborne and Pat Hiban (of the Gobundance mastermind) which outlines the benefits of a mastermind group via a fictional story. Surrounding myself with like-minded individuals of a similar background for the purpose of self-improvement sounded appealing to me. I’m always interested in bettering myself and learning more, so this seemed like a logical next step in my personal development. I told my friend that I was interested, but I wouldn’t start it until I came back from deployment. Fast forward a few months, and I submitted my application and joined the mastermind.

It’s been roughly 10 weeks since I started, so I thought I would give some insights into what it’s like being in a mastermind group. Members are divided into 5-6 person ‘squads’ who are encouraged to meet weekly to discuss highs and lows of the previous week, long-term goals, and short-term goals for the week ahead. One person gets to deep-dive into what they’re working on and any problems they’re facing. These are usually in the context of real estate and personal finance, but we discuss fitness goals and work problems as well. In addition, there are roughly twice-monthly webinars for the entire mastermind with more experienced speakers from different real estate backgrounds. These provide a tremendous amount of value because you can ask questions and interact with these individuals.  

So What Are the Benefits?

Accountability

This is a huge advantage to being in a mastermind group, and it pays off regularly. Once you are in a squad, you lay out all your goals – short term and long term. My squad helped me realize that I hadn’t set my goals high enough, so I made bigger goals. This reiterates the fact that we are only restricted by the limits we place on ourselves. I couldn’t see this fact myself, but these guys showed me that I could accomplish more.

When you outline your goals for the upcoming week, your squad members will follow up with you during the week and make sure you’re actually doing what you said you would do. Also, the beginning of the weekly meetings involves discussing if you met your goals from the previous week. Some of my past goals have been reading 50-100 pages per week of any book, exercising daily, and reading an article about real estate syndication every day. What good is a goal if there is no follow up to ensure it has been achieved?

Networking

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” said Jim Rohn. Networking is probably the most substantial long-term benefit to a mastermind group. Our mastermind in particular has a good mix of beginners and more experienced real estate investors. Some are into lending, some fix-and-flip, some prefer the simple buy and hold strategy, and some do all of those! You also have a wide array of people with experience in different asset classes, such as single family homes, apartment buildings, self-storage, mobile home parks, and more. There seems to be a healthy combination of people looking for deals to invest in, and people with deals that need capital to get started.

Personal Development

Many people join masterminds because they have a good idea of what they need to do to get moving in the right direction, but they just need that bit of encouragement from like-minded individuals. It’s also a fantastic forum in which you can bounce ideas off of others. The group is diverse enough such that whatever problem you’re having, there’s probably someone else that has had a similar experience. Or they’ve read an article/book or listened to a podcast about it.

Is A Mastermind for You?

As with life in general, the more effort and time you put into your mastermind experience, the more you get out of it. Some members are more involved than others, and there is a direct correlation between time spent and value gained. On a similar note, the more you give the more you get. If you are willing to give to others (be it knowledge, time, or money) the universe will pay it back many times over. It’s also inherently rewarding to help others and see them grow. Though it is certainly not for everyone, I have personally enjoyed the mastermind experience so far, and will continue to participate as much as I can in the future.

Have you been in a mastermind group? Tell me your thoughts in the comments section below. Also, the War Room Real Estate Mastermind Group is always looking for military members and veterans who want to learn and grow and help others. Send me an email to learn more.