On this episode of The Passive Income Attorney, Seth sits down with Charles Dobens to discuss life after law and passive investing. Charles explains why he left law, why he focuses on passive income and explains his current business. Enjoy!
“You’ve got to start sometime, start learning this business now. Maybe you don’t have a product, maybe you don’t know what your service would be, but make it happen. Figure it out.”
0:00 – Intro
2:06 – Background on Charles Dobbins
6:20 – It’s never going to hurt you to go to law school
6:55 – Charles describes how he got into real estate
8:22 – Charles talks about the importance of your assets generating income, which is what happens with multifamily real estate
9:04 – You have to keep your eye on passive investments, but it’s a great income
11:12 – Charles shares a great story about his income
13:01 – Charles talks about the different passive income streams he’s got going on right now
14:36 – Charles teaches his clients how to build a business which invests in multifamily
18:56 – Charles never felt risk in multifamily, but did in single family
19:27 – Charles thinks investing in syndicates as an LP is a great idea
22:03 – Just because it is in an opportunity zone, that doesn’t mean it’s a good deal
22:20 – Make sure you’re working with someone who is experienced. Seth tells a story about an investor who ripped his deals apart
26:28 – Charles talks about the biggest mistakes he’s made in his career
29:18 – Seth asks what would Charles be doing in an alternative universe without real estate
30:58 – Seth asks what Charles does to keep his mind and body healthy
34:05 – Where was Charles’s business at 5 years ago and where will it be in 5 years?
39:56 – How has passive income made Charles’s life better
FIND | CHARLES DOBENS:
Multifamily Investing Academy: www.multifamilyinvestingacademy.com
Multifamily War Room: www.multifamilywarroom.com
Podcast: Multifamily Investing with Multifamily Attorney Charles Dobens
Dobens Law: www.dobenslaw.com
Charles Dobens is a multifamily investor, attorney, and mentor to multifamily investors all around the country. Charles founded the Multifamily Investing Academy, where he works with students in his Owner Forum program to train them in the correct way to acquire, operate and own multifamily property.
His legal and consulting practice has one specialty – helping new investors overcome any lack of confidence in moving toward their financial objective of owning and operating apartments. Charles is uniquely qualified to walk investors confidently through the entire process: analyzing property, negotiating contracts, organizing funding as well as transitioning to ownership.
Charles Dobens is principal at Dobens Law and founder of the Multifamily Investing Academy.
Seth: Hello, law nation. It’s that time for a new phenomenal episode and another key stepping stone to your journey to creating financial freedom through passive income. Look, everyone has a different definition of what passive income really is. It’s on a sliding scale of 100% passive, which, you know, really doesn’t exist. And 100% active, which I believe examples include flipping a house or starting and running a restaurant, something like that. So maybe you’re a more of a hands-on type of person, or you have a little bit more time freedom, or you’re interested in what I consider actively investing in commercial real estate. Well, this episode is for you. While there are certainly some heavy lifting to do in order to purchase a commercial real estate asset directly execute a business plan and manage the property. If done correctly, you’re still going to get mailbox money into a certain extent, it may become passive. So long as you keep your eyes on the prize.
Our guest of honor, Mr. Charles Dobens is better known in our industry as the multifamily attorney. He’s a multi-family investor, attorney and mentor to multifamily investors all across the country. He’s the principal at Dobens law and founder of the multifamily investing Academy. All right, let’s jump in.
Seth: All right, Charles. Great to have you on man. Really appreciate you taking the time.
Charles: Thank you, sir.
Seth: Yeah, absolutely. So, yeah, man. So, you are a recovered attorney completely and fully.
Charles: You know, I am. I do just to cover my tail. I tell my clients; I am an attorney. I am not your attorney. You will hire an attorney. That’s like my mantra and everyone knows it. And that doesn’t get me in trouble with any bar association. So, I always say that whenever I’m talking.
Seth: Makes sense, man. So, well, let’s start out. Tell me about your previous law practice and you know, what you loved about it, if anything, and what you hate about it.
Charles: Well, the thing is I kind came around about, and so when I got out of law school, I was working in the insurance field and at the time I obviously, I’m the type of person that has the entrepreneurial bug. So instead of going out and practicing law, I started my own benefits administration company, which I didn’t realize until probably 10 years later is the worst business in the world to be in. It is thankless. I mean, I processed medical claims for self-funded companies and, you know, you can do 10,000 things, right and you pay the owner’s wife’s claim wrong and you get fired. And it was just, ah, and it’s so cutthroat and backstabbing, conniving. It’s like the law practice that I finally said, I can’t do this. I just can’t do it anymore. So, I finally went to my wife. I said, I’m going to be in an early grave. I got to quit. She said, what do you want to do? I said, I’ve always wanted to own apartments. And she said, okay, let’s do it. So, I sold the insurance firm and I started buying apartments. And, you know, my timing was impeccable. It was about 2005, 2006. That’s a joke Seth, to a guy your age. You probably weren’t even born back then, but that was right in the height of the market. So, I weather the storm through the bad crash and kept some of my properties, lost some of my properties. And that’s when I started practicing is, I started helping fellow friends of mine who were essentially going through the same problem that I was going through. And helping them realize that, you know, the banks at that time, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion. Most of my clients were losing their property. I just held their hand through the process. But what happened was I looked, I said, why’d you buy this property in the first place? This thing’s a dog. Oh, no, man, this is going to be great. We’re going to do this. We are going to make a million bucks. And you know, this thing is a terrible property. You’re under-capitalized, it’ll never work. And I realized that I was better off being proactive in helping these people buy the property the right before they get started than I am at the other end just watching them, you know, holding their head over the toilet bowl as they just regurgitate everything right up. And so that’s when I started changing, I was practicing for those property owners. But then they became my clients through my, I guess you can call it like a consulting practice where I went from being a lawyer to being a consultant. And let me tell you something Seth, best move I ever made. From a market, essentially my law degree now is a marketing tool. People like to work with me as an attorney because they know hey, I’ve been through a million times and I’m acting as their advocate through the process. So that’s real, but I don’t practice. I will work with your attorney. I will draft the contracts, get it blessed by your local counsel, but there’s no possible way. I have clients all over the country that I cannot, my contracts that we use are not valid in all 50 States. You need to have local counsel review it and make sure it’s right for you. So, that’s kind of the long, actually the short version of how I got to where I am right now. So yeah, it was you know, it’s been an up and down ride. But man, I love what I do now. I am so glad I went to law school, so I could not be a lawyer and do what I’m doing now. But I couldn’t do what I’m doing now if I wasn’t a lawyer. So that’s a beautiful thing.
Seth: Yeah. That’s the beautiful thing about law degrees, you can do a lot with it.
Charles: Listen, my kids ask should I go to law school? I said hey, it’s never going to hurt you. Never going to hurt you. You know, it really is a great education, a great help, you know, teaches you the thought process, how to go through situations. I’m so glad I have my law background.
Seth: Yeah. It opens tons of doors. So, how did you get started in real estate investing? You know, was that during the consulting?
Charles: No, that was really when I decided just to totally get out of insurance. You hear that story about, you know, about that conquer the Explorer who burnt the ships. I’d burnt the ships. I got to a point in my life where I just could not go back. I was going to be dead. I was going to be dead before the age of 65, absolutely a miserable person. And I just had to quit cold Turkey. And I teach my students how to get into this business and I don’t teach them to do it that way. Because you know, I had some money in the bank, you know, I sold my business. I had some money in the bank, so I was able to survive a little bit, but I don’t recommend doing that. I recommend that as you build up your new business, you still keep the income coming in from the previous business. And even now that I have multiple streams of passive income you know, I’m starting a new business and believe me, I am not ever getting rid of the other types of income. I’m not going to burn any more ships. I don’t need to burn any more ships. And you know, now I’ve built it the right way, so it’s a good position to be in.
Seth: Awesome. Yeah. So, let’s dive into that a little bit. So how would you recommend to your students who maybe have a really good job, maybe they’re a practicing attorney or a doctor or something like that, where they make a lot of money, but maybe they’re not enjoying it that much, or they can stand it. So maybe they want to transition out slowly.
Charles: Yeah. I mean, one of the things is that, you know, you’ve got income and you’ve got assets and you need both. And the ultimate objective is to get the assets to generate the income. But not everybody has the assets, but they’re out there earning the income. You’ve got to create other streams of income that help you build up those assets that will enable you to quit your income job, where you get up and get miserable every day. And the thing is that that is what’s going on when you’re doing multi-family, because multi-family is the building of assets. You’re building a portfolio that generates income. And let me just tell you something, I know the name of your podcast is passive income. But here’s my thing is I don’t believe any income is passive. You’ve got to look at everything. You’ve got to keep your eye on it. If you take your eye off that multi-family property for 90 days, it’ll be gone, the bank will be taking it back in 90 days. You’ve got to always keep your eye on what’s going on. I mean, it’s like, it’s like owning a, you know, an ice cream stand. And at the beginning of the summer, you let the high school kids run it and you go off on vacation. There’s nothing going to be there when you come back. So that’s the same way with a lot of these multi-family situation, multi-family gurus tell you everything is passive. It isn’t, but it’s a great business to be in. There’s no better business than multi-family.
Seth: Yeah. I mean, there are different levels to, you know, quote unquote, passive, whether you’re talking about, you know, flipping a single family house, maybe that’s what some people think about when they talk about real estate investing is let’s flip a house. Well, there’s nothing passive about that.
Charles: Oh my gosh. And the thing is that most people that, you know, when you sit down, and you write up my avatar for a perfect customer most of them were the fix and flippers. Who have done a few, made some money and realize that like my father, the old consummate salesperson, you are only as good as your last sale. And once that deal is done, you’ve got to go out and find another one. And that’s why you see so many fix and flippers, trying to get into the multifamily side, because they know it’s the income. It’s all about that income coming in.
Seth: Yeah. I mean, it’s transactional. It’s just like your legal practice or your doctor practice. I mean, you’re still just trading time for money.
Charles: Yep. Transactional is exactly it. And I’ll tell you, and I don’t know, we’ll probably get into this more, but I just had given an example of passive or transactional, you know, when you get into a business where you have a continuity program where people’s credit cards are being hit through your system every single month, at the end of the day, you get an email from your merchant company that tells you, okay, today, we are depositing X number of dollars into your bank account today. And just to give you an example, so I’m having dinner and I’m showing the waitress something on my phone, some video, and as I’m holding it up, as I’m holding it up to her, that message comes through. We have deposited $2,368 into your bank account. And I look at it and I look at her, I’m like, oh boy, she’s going to expect a good tip today. So, all right, all right. But that’s what happens when you get into a business that provides that type of a nice income and that’s on the consulting side of my business, not on the multi-family side investments.
Seth: Cool. Yeah. Well, let’s maybe dive in there a little bit. I know that you’ve said you like to do as little as possible and still make as much money as possible. So, like, you know, I mean that in a good way and the best way.
Charles: When you say trying to do as little as possible, I’m going nonstop all the time, but it does not feel like work. It is fun. I had lunch today with a general contractor and an architect on some buildings I’m trying to build. And now I’m here talking to you on my podcast. And after this, I got to shoot some videos with my partner. This is fun. This is fun stuff. Nobody could, I live, I’m Riley, I’m living the life of Riley right now, so it is beautiful. So, yeah, there’s another 1950s reference. Go look it up.
Seth: I’m going to have to look that one up, man. I caught some of your other ones, but that one I’m going to have to look up. That’s a little too far back for me.
Seth: Okay. So, tell me about your different passive income streams that you’ve created for yourself.
Charles: Well, obviously from the real estate, that’s the very nice one, but what I’m doing now is, I’m accumulating assets. So that’s part of it. And I’m just building that up because I’m looking in the next couple of years, we’re going to be buying the big house down in South Carolina and just living life down there and enjoying life down there. The nicest, I have two businesses right now that are all about consulting and teaching people how to buy apartments. And it’s, one is a multifamily investing Academy. And the other one is a multi-family war room that I just started doing with another attorney Jillian Sidoti out of California. And so, what we do is we teach people online with our expertise. Mine is on multi-family transactional law and hers is on securities law. And we help people and teaching them how to get out there and build a multi-family real estate business. And that part provides us income to go out there and buy assets. And that’s the whole name of the game. And it’s a blast. It’s fun to create it. It’s fun to develop it. And I love working with my clients, that’s a really coolest part is I get to talk to people about a business that I absolutely love, and I get to help them get into the same field that I’m in, which is you can’t beat it. It’s fantastic.
Seth: Yeah. So, you have a couple of different things, so you’re kind of teaching, you’re teaching your students how to invest in multi-family and really on the active side. Not necessarily passively into syndications as an LP.
Charles: Exactly. So, my clients are active. They’re looking to be the investor, get out there, be the sponsor, be the GP, put the deal together, go out and raise a private money and own and operate that asset. So, it’s, I guess I want to clarify something for you. I teach them how to build a business, which invests in multifamily instead of, I don’t teach them how to be an investor in multi-family, I teach them how to build out business and put all the pieces together to make it happen. Yeah. So, but Hey man, I love it. I love it.
Seth: That’s great, man. You can see it shining through. And so let’s actually go into just a little bit more about, we touched on it a little bit, but you know, just give me your opinion on, you know, investing in single family versus multi-family.
Charles: You know, you think about what’s the, you know, you have to ask yourself the question, where do you feel most comfortable? And I’ll tell you, my daughter just bought her first single family fix and flip. All right. Now her father is the big multi-family guy. But that’s where she and her fiancé feel the most comfortable. That’s what they want to start doing. Okay, fine. Not a problem. On my side, when I had made the decision as to, we’re getting into real estate, I always had a thing for apartments. I’ve always known my biggest heroes were those guys that owned and operated apartments. The guys who were millionaires were the ones that owned and operated the apartments. So that one always had you know, that was where my dream job was. And then what happened was, when I finally burnt the ships, like I mentioned, you need to, I looked at the two business models and the single family fix and flip model scared the daylights out of me and the multifamily didn’t. And for some people they may think about that as like, oh man, how can you do that? I mean, the numbers are so much bigger than the multi-family and you got to do so much more. It’s like, no, here’s why it was easier for me. I live in South of Boston. It’s a very pricey marketplace. If you were out there looking to buy a fixer-upper in Massachusetts or South of Boston, the land cost alone is close to $400,000. And then on top of that, you’ve got to pay for the structure. You got to go there, do the rehab. If I screwed up, if I missed timed it, I could own a property that is a burden to me. That is a white elephant for me. And I didn’t want to take that risk. Now on the multi-family side, it’s a business, it’s all about the numbers. You show me the numbers and I can tell you whether this is a good deal or not. That it’s understanding a profit and loss statement and owning my own business. My wife has her MBA. It was just a logical decision to go to that level. It made so much more sense for us. So that’s why going back, sitting there looking at what was the right decision for me, multifamily just made all the sense. The single-family fix and flip side, ah, man, that’s a tough one. I didn’t want to get into it. So, there’s no right or wrong way to do this. I think, you know, when I teach my students, I said, where do you want to be in five years? If you can answer that question clearly succinctly, then we know that we’re on the right track. And if that means, you know, small four units, six units doing it all yourself, nothing wrong with that, or it could be like, Oh, go big or go home. Okay, I hear what you’re saying. But remember going home is still an option in that choice. So, you know, you know, it’s really, it’s entirely up to the person.
Seth: Yeah. That’s awesome perspective. I think that most people think that, you know, if they go the single-family route into a fix and flip, or just a you know, a single-family rental or something like that, it’s less risky than doing, you know, a big multi-family property or not necessarily a big one, but just a multi-family property, commercial property in general, they think of that as risky, but really with the economies of scale and you know, it is a business and you’ve got more doors and less rooms and things like that. It’s actually less risky.
Charles: Yeah. It never was an issue for me is when they were talking about risk. I didn’t see risk in multifamily. I saw a risk in that single-family. I still feel that way today about my own house, you know. Gosh. So yeah.
Seth: Well, I’d like to get your opinion on investing passively since you, you know, your business is built around teaching your students how to invest actively and you know, seeking out some multifamily properties to buy themselves. I mean, what are your thoughts about investing in syndications passively as an LP investor?
Charles: Oh, I think it’s a great idea. And especially a lot of these people do it just to cut their teeth and learn about the reporting and understanding the investment. I hear people make a big mistake in thinking why they want to start investing passively and then make it over to the GP side and invest in the GP side. And they do it because they think oh, I need to do it this way, so that when I know that the Fannie Mae’s and the Freddie Mac DUS lenders will approve me when it’s my turn to do a GP. That is not true. That is not, you don’t even have to worry about that. Make sure that the reason why you’re investing is because it’s a good investment, not because you’re trying to do it and to parlay it into some other aspect of this business. That’s not necessary. I was never a limited partner in anyone’s deal before I started sponsoring my own deals. Just understand. And many of my clients do it the exact same way, but for some reason there are a lot of these gurus out there that make money when you invest with them. See, that’s one of the things is none of my clients invest with me on ones on the multi-family investing Academy side of the business. I would not you know, and I never helped them raise money. And that way I could maintain my objectivity. I could tell them hey, this deal is terrible. Don’t do it. As opposed to some of these investors, these gurus who keep a part of the person’s deal and they only make money if the deal gets closed, well, that would be wrong. I need to be able to tell me tell my students, my clients objectively, this is a bad deal. Don’t do it. Let’s walk on. So that’s one of the reasons why I never invest it. Now in multi-family war room, Jillian and I are going to be investing in our students deals, but they’re going to have to pitch their deal to us. We’re going to help them hone their sales pitch so that they can go out there and raise private money with other LPs. All right, so let me get back to the LP and the GP side. The question it being, how do you feel about doing it on the LP side? Absolutely fine. I mean, we’re doing that now. I’m about to put some of my own money in an investors deal that I really like. I’ve got some money in my 401k I want to move it into a deal. Totally fine. But here’s the thing you’ve got to understand what it is about that particular investment that makes it a good investment. Why should I be putting my money into that deal? You do it just because you want to be in a deal. Well, that’s kind of a bad reason. I mean I call that the Willie Nelson school of tax investing where, you know hey, they told me it was a great tax shelter, so I invested in it. Well, then they took away the tax benefits and it was a lousy investment. It’s like these opportunity zones. And I know I’m going kind of all over the place. But these opportunity zones, okay, it’s in an opportunity zone, but is it a good investment if it’s not a good investment, but it’s in an opportunity zone, guess what? It’s not a good investment. So, you just don’t do it. So, you would need to go into these LP deals. Understanding is this property a good property, should I be putting my money into this deal? And then you get into the flavor of your money. Why are you investing? Do you need income? Do you need capital appreciation? If that’s the case, make sure you understand how that property performs so that you can make sure it’s going to be a cash flowing property, or it’s going to be, you know, a fix and flip, and we’re going to have to hold our money. We’re not going to see a dime for another four years. There are reasons why each one of those is a good thing and it all ties back to what is your investment strategy? So, I have no issue doing an LP, investing in LP. You just have to understand why you’re doing it and whether you’re doing it with a good sponsor or not, that’s the key to look out for.
Seth: Yeah, definitely. The sponsors the most important part of the deal, in my opinion.
Charles: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, you want to be with somebody that’s probably done it before. You want to make sure that they’ve got a good sound investment strategy. And the other thing too is, and this is what we’re doing, Julian and I are doing is when we were, when my wife and I were first starting to raise private money, we had one investor that we would always go to see first. And let me tell you something, Seth, this guy would rip apart our deals and then invest with us. But man, he would tear them apart in such a way that we can now go back and fix our mistakes and get our story better to find out what’s wrong with our strategy. So, the next people we sat down in front of, we look like geniuses because we had been through the ringer with this guy. So, you want to, don’t be afraid to put your GP through the ringer. Absolutely because the world’s going to put them through a ringer anyway, and they’re not going to care. So, you better put them through your own ringer first, before you give them your money, your hard-earned money.
Seth: Yeah. Know what you’re getting yourself into for sure. And I mean, you can build your income, both sides of the table, passively and actively. You can do both. I do both.
Charles: Yeah, the worst GPs to do business with are those people that, it’s a very loaded, front end loaded source of revenue for them. If they’re doing it for the transactional money that they’re going to make on doing the deal and not because it’s a good investment, don’t ever put your money with a guy like that. If they’ve got like a, and I’ve seen these and they’ve got like a 5% acquisition fee built into the deal, run for the Hills, don’t walk, run for the Hills. You don’t want to be putting your money in that guy’s deal.
Seth: Right. Because they’ve made their money up front and they’re just moving on to the next one.
Charles: Yeah. And I had one student when he told me what his structure was, it really shocked me. Because he got the money up front and then he didn’t own, he would not receive any further income until the property sold. Man, what if the property goes South? What’s his incentive for staying in there? So, don’t be penny wise and pound foolish with you know your deal. You got to make sure that it makes a sound sense to your investors.
Seth: Yeah. Those fees just need to be aligned with the sponsor that need to be, you know, allocated properly. You’re not just getting paid up front, you’re getting paid, you know, for the asset management so that that’s taken care of. And then also on the backend, I mean, it’s just got to be allocated fairly.
Charles: And the other thing you might want to look at some type of an ownership structure where the, even the sponsor vests in. In other words, they don’t get all their equity on day one. They have to hit some numbers before they are entitled to the equity. That’s kind of fair.
Seth: Yeah. Here’s a good question. What’s the biggest mistake you have made, or one of you you’ve seen one of your students make, no names.
Charles: Man. I don’t need to go to any of my students. My students don’t make mistakes. My students do not make mistakes. I won’t let them. I’ve done it all, oh man, let me see. You know, there’s simple, basic ones like under capitalizing a property, buying it the wrong way. Meaning you’ve put too much debt on the property and it’s just saddled with debt and the deal doesn’t make sense from a leverage standpoint. You know, biting off more than you could chew, you know, doing a rehab from a thousand miles away when you’ve never done one before. Oh boy, geez, Seth, we could be here for a whole show. Not quite understanding like assumptions and the pitfalls of assumptions. Oh boy, let me see what other, overpaying for a property. Worst thing you could possibly do. And I know there’s some guru out there that says that says hey, you know, you can overpay for multifamily property because the prices never go down on them. That guy’s obviously 10 years old Seth because he wasn’t around during the last crash when all my properties lost value and many of them never came back. So that’s, overpaying for a property. Yeah, so those types of things are the general mistakes, the big mistakes. And as you can see, I just rattled them right off. And they’re very easy to fix when I’m working with my students. I won’t let them do it. I mean, but if I need to get a deal done, I want to get into a deal. That’s the worst reason to get into a deal is because you feel, you have to. That’s it. I mean, especially if you’re using other people’s money, you better have a good story.
Seth: Well, I mean, you just named all those reasons. I mean, that’s why you need to talk to people and network and get a mentor, whether it’s paid or not paid, whatever, it might be somebody that can teach you to avoid those pitfalls.
Charles: Yeah, definitely it has to be a paid mentor, Seth. I don’t do this for free pal.
Seth: Well, not you.
Charles: I am kidding. Hey, listen, you know, you get your money’s worth, you get your money’s worth, whatever you pay. So that’s the key and yeah, I totally agree. You got to have somebody looking over your shoulder no matter who you are. I just sat down with these two guys at lunch to do new development. I’m brand new to ground up construction, but boy, I’m going to seek out everyone I know to get advice before I do anything.
Seth: Yeah. That’s the key man. Just talk to people, just talk to people.
Charles: Yep. Absolutely.
Seth: Yeah, so let’s jump into the freedom four, the final four questions. It’s my favorite question. In an alternative universe where there was not real estate in your life, what else would you be doing?
Charles: Flying, flying. That’s not my plane. I have a plane, but I love to fly and that’s my fun. That’s what I love to do. Yeah, that’s a quick and easy answer and play golf. So that’s why having this type of a job is perfect is as you get to yeah, you get to have a lot of fun and still make a lot of money.
Seth: That’s awesome, man. You’ve created freedom, man. That’s what everybody’s looking for.
Charles: No kidding. No kidding. It’s great.
Seth: Yeah. We were not put on this earth to slave away in a cubicle for 70 years old.
Charles: You know, my mother, all my mother wanted to do was get to a stage in life where she could go sit under a tree with my father. My father would not want to sit under a tree. The guy had ants in his pants, but you know what? She died at 56. She never had the chance and I just don’t want to live my life that way. And that’s why I started flying is I got to a point where I’ve always wanted to be a pilot. And I had money in the bank, I was doing, I’m not going to die not having done this. And that’s when I said, you know what? I’m going to do it. And I did. And the best move I ever made. I love it.
Seth: That’s awesome, man. That’s awesome.
Charles: I’m a hanger rat. Yeah. Yeah.
Seth: So, I’m huge on health and fitness and own a gym myself. So, what’s the best thing you do to keep your mind and or body healthy?
Charles: Okay. Well, listen Seth, I did it all back when I was your age. As I tell my kids, my kids always used to ask me, Hey dad, have you ever you know, you ever played baseball? And, whatever they would ask, I was always the New Hampshire state junior masters champion at it. And so, hey dad, have you ever played badminton? Oh yeah, I was New Hampshire junior masters’ champion. And then one day I think my oldest daughter was 12 years old. She finally was like hey dad, you ever played ping pong. Well, I was New Hampshire state junior masters’ champion. Wait a minute? You were that for everything. I said you finally figured it out, Abby. So, I used to do it all, I did the CrossFit, I did all those things and, you know, I ran marathons. And I always like to tell people that I ran the Boston marathon three times. I won my division every single time I ran, females age 55 and over, that’s my division. They never checked ids. So, my body’s been pretty much beaten up. So now I ride my bike. I get up at six o’clock in the morning and it was cold this morning. I got my, my woolies on and stuff, I went for my bike ride. I listened to a podcast as I’m doing my bike ride. And that is how I start my day. And that’s perfect. And on those days that I can’t do it, I’m the guy at the YMCA with the Peloton app in the corner doing you know, stretching aerobics and cardio right there by myself. That’s how I do it. My father played basketball. He was 65 years old and never drank, never smoked and lived to be 82. And you know, he was in great shape when he died. But yeah, so that’s what I do, right now, I’m at the stage where I’m riding my bike is and that’s, I just love it. Cause I can zone out with the podcasts and get ready for the day. Get ready for the day. That’s the key thing.
Seth: That’s good, man. You look great. You look like you’re in really good shape. You can’t lie about that.
Charles: Seth I am 72 years old. Look at me. I mean, of course I look good. Geez. Everybody’s watching this now, wow! That guy’s 72 years old. He looks really good for 72. See, nobody ever says I look good for 56.
Seth: All the ladies listening right now, you’re going to be ringing off the hook.
Charles: Yup. Yup. And 56 years old nobody compliments me at 56. That’s why I go for 72. I go for the compliments. You know, I learned that from my mother. Cause she kept telling everybody every birthday she was oh, I’m 40 again. I’m like, mom, you look like hell for 40. Tell people you’re 72 and you’ll get a whole lot more compliments. Yup. Yup. It’s all marketing.
Seth: That is how you frame it. All right. Where was your business at? Where were you in your business at five years ago. And where do you see it five years from now?
Charles: Oh man. Okay. It was really kind of in its infancy. I was still, oh, you know what it was, let me tell you what happened. So when I first got in this consulting stage, I got in with a couple of these internet guys and one them said, the number one thing you can do is create content, create content, create content. And I probably create over a thousand hours of content that has all been recorded and it’s all in my membership portal. So, anybody wants to see anything I’ve done. You can go in there and you can see Seth when I weighed 180 pounds, because I have video of me at that stage. So the whole thing was about creating content, but then building the system that runs everything that you know, where people come online and buy your program and all that type of stuff, that took me a lot longer to create.
And that’s why, you know, the first couple years I was making a living, wasn’t making like a great living. And I say, you know, about five or six years ago, I was probably about $150,000 a year is what I was making through selling my consulting services. Then I found this guy and his name is Brendon Burchard, B-U-R-C-H-A-R-D, Brendon Burchard. And at the time the program that he had was called the experts Academy. He’s since changed and remarketed it, rebranded it. But I remember going to see him in, it was in the San Francisco Bay area. You know, you walk in, you get a thousand people in one of those conference rooms. Everybody’s cheering everybody else on it, which is so not my style. I’m the guy in the back row. But what they did was as I walked in, I heard him say that if you’re not making a million dollars a year on your business, on the internet, then you’re doing something wrong. And that just hit me. And I thought to myself, huh, he’s right. I really should be making a million dollars a year. And I went and I purchased his program. It was October. I shut my business down from October to December 31st and rebuilt everything. And then starting 2016, that was almost four years ago, four and a half years ago, four- and three-quarter years ago. I went and hit the million-dollar Mark. And so, and that was just on one of my businesses. Now we’re starting up another business to start and we want to go, we want to be at 5 million on that business in the next three years. And I’ll tell you something folks, you know, you just think to yourself, practicing law, how can you get to those numbers? And I mean, you would need a huge staff. I’ve got two employees and they don’t even, I mean, one just texted me. She’s yelling at me right now. Cause I forgot to do something and she’s down in Florida. I don’t even see her. I’m going to see her next month when she’s up here in Boston. But that’s the way my business is structured. And because of the internet and how things work to nowadays, you can design the same type of business. It’s absolutely fantastic. So that is, to answer your question, where do I see myself in five years? I want to have another company doing much more than we’re doing right now. And well I’m not really working all that much harder. And you can do that very easily in this business.
Seth: Making more, working less.
Charles: Yeah. Why not?
Seth: There’s more ways to make money than just your legal practice. I mean, you can jump into coaching, consulting these internet things, I mean, multifamily real estate, other kinds of real estate. I mean, there are so many ways to make money and I feel like a lot of attorneys just feel pigeonholed in their practice.
Charles: Yeah, they do. But a lot of them aren’t entrepreneurs, they don’t think outside the box. They think that the only way they can make money is through legal services, legal fees. You know, I’ll tell you my partner in this new venture, she had a law firm and you know, she was having to do all this stuff for her kids and do all this stuff for her kids, but never seeing the kids. And then finally I was talking to her for years. Listen, this is how I do it. She just couldn’t figure out a way to make the break until finally she said, I got to figure this out. And I said, come on, let’s go put this new venture together and we’ll make this thing happen. And within our first webinar and our first webinar we made $67,000 on an hour’s worth of work.
Seth: Not bad. How about that billable hour?
Charles: Exactly. No kidding. Exactly. So, but you know, listen, I know what you’re thinking. Okay. That sounds great. How do I do it? And I know that I look like I’m an overnight sensation, but it’s taken me the last 10 years to do this. You got to start sometime. You got to start sometime, start learning this business now. Maybe you don’t have a product. Maybe you don’t know what your service would be, but make it happen. Figure it out. Is Carol Burnett going to come on right now and start singing, we’re so glad we had this time together.
Seth: One more question, train has passed, I warned you about that train, man. Warned you about it. How has passive income made your life better?
Charles: Oh, it’s my whole life. My life would suck right now. No, I’m not kidding. It would be miserable. I would be that fat guy lying on the beach. You know, a sunburn and everything. I would not be doing what I’m doing right now if I hadn’t built the business that I have today 10 years ago, you know, the best time to plant a tree is today. And you know, that’s what you need to really need to think about. You folks are listening to this and you want to know how to do it get started now, just start learning stuff. I see these guys on TikTok teaching you about different ways to get something on the internet, give it a, try, have fun with it. You know, like the guys, you know, gave you an idea, like how to find a product and exactly what steps to take, what the heck, let’s throw it out there and see if it makes you any money. Remember what they say. If you can make a dollar on the internet, you can make a million and I’m living proof that that is absolutely true.
Seth: There you go. That’s a perfect way to end it man. So where can listeners find out more about you and your programs and your business?
Charles: You can go to two sites, www.multifamilyinvestingacademy.com. You can go to the www.multifamilywarroom.com. You can always go to www.themultifamilyattorney.com, any one of those places. You know, I do weekly vlogs, I do, I’m on YouTube. I mean, I’ve got so much material. I’ve got a great podcast that I love to do. And you know, welcome to the world of podcasts Seth. They had to take me to a kicking and screaming about two years ago and now it’s like, oh, why did I love it? If all I could do is podcasts. I would just podcast. It’s a blast.
Seth: Yeah. Just BS about business and real estate. It’s beautiful.
Charles: I know. Exactly. Yeah. And one guy said I love this, He said what’s it like coming to one of your events? I said, I’m like the Don Rickles of multi-family and the guy just stood there and stared at me. And I said, you don’t know who Don Rickles is, do you? He goes, no, no I don’t. And then I realized that people your age, Seth, I have to use the reference Mr. Potato head. And then you understand who Don Rickles is. That didn’t help you. That didn’t help you either.
Seth: You live, and you learn.
Charles: Google it.
Seth: There we go. All right, Charles really appreciate you being on the show today. You’ve been amazing.
Charles: Thanks man. Good show. I really enjoyed it. And good luck to you. And let’s blast this thing out there. Let’s smash the like button right now. That’s what I was told I’m supposed to say, smash the like button.
Seth: Smash it.
Seth: Yes. What an episode. Charles is an incredibly gifted and entertaining entrepreneur that has optimally utilized his law degree to succeed in business outside of the practice of law all while helping others on their own journey. Amazing story and amazing guy. If you’d like to learn more about commercial real estate as a direct owner, or as a passive investor, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and go to www.passiveincomeattorney.com to get your copy of our guide, to investing in alternative assets. Ladies and gentlemen, until next time, enjoy the journey.