Alexis Assadi is an investor, entrepreneur and advocate for building multiple revenue streams. At age 26 he became financially free – where his passive income exceeded his expenses. After his first investment of $1,000 at the age of 19 in a mutual fund, he became interested in investing. At age 23 he discovered passive investing and has been building his wealth and empowering other to do the same since.
Stefan Aarnio: Ladies and gentleman welcome to the show Respect the Grind with Stefan Aarnio. This is the show where we interview people who’ve achieved mastery and freedom through discipline. We interview entrepreneurs, athletes, authors, artists, real estate investors, anyone who has achieved mastery and examine what it took to get there.
Stefan Aarnio: Today on this show we have a friend of mine Alexis Assadi. He’s a well known serial entrepreneur, financial blogger, he also owns a financing company, several other ventures. Alexis welcome to the show Respect the Grind. Thanks so much for joining me. How are you doing today?
Alexis Assadi: Hey Stefan, thanks for having me. I’m doing well, thanks.
Stefan Aarnio: Awesome. Alexis, for the people at home who don’t know you, can you tell us a little bit about you and how you got started out in entrepreneurship?
Alexis Assadi: Yeah. Well, thanks for having me. I’m in Vancouver. I’m just sitting in my condo enjoying the autumn day.
Alexis Assadi: I’ve always been an investor. I’ve always invested for income, at least since 2011. I left my job. I was working for a financial education company in 2016. I’ve just been, the last few years, just doing my thing. I run a couple of financing companies. One of them is called Pacific Income. As you mentioned I have a blog as well alexisassadi.net. I’m just an independent investor. Pretty passionate about financing small businesses, real estate transactions and I think at the end of the day my mantra is kind of income invest and try to generate passive income through investments.
Alexis Assadi: I haven’t been an independent entrepreneur for that long. I did go through the university period of my life. I had a job for a few years but I haven’t had a job since I was 28 and I don’t intend to have another one again.
Stefan Aarnio: Awesome. Alexis we’ve met before. I flew into Vancouver. You’re in your beautiful condo. You got the life. You’re living the life that so many people dream of, being a professional investor, a real nice place to live, having that financial freedom. What was that transition like going from the job into independent investor, where you’re making all your money from your deals and your blog and things like that. What was that transition like?
Alexis Assadi: Honestly, none of it would have been possible without having at least a guaranteed recurring income, recurring revenue. The transition wasn’t financially too difficult just because I at least had a base amount of income that I could live on from my investments and things like that
Alexis Assadi: Financially, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. It was more so, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I went through a little bit of period, through a small period where I was like, “I don’t really want to have a job but I don’t have a business that I’m particularly passionate about, yet.”
Alexis Assadi: Like, you have a big company with a lot of employees, you have a big organization going, you have something to wake up to every morning and really get into. I went through a period for a good chunk of time where I was like, “Well, I could get up in the morning but what do I do today?” That was kind of more the struggle.
Alexis Assadi: Then I decided to start Pacific Income in early 2017. That kind of lit a huge light under my butt. That’s the financing company. It’s one of a few financing companies that I run. Everything just started rolling from there.
Alexis Assadi: It wasn’t like, financially the hardest thing in the world but, it’s a weird thing to say, because you’re like, “What do I do every morning?” But you go through enough days like that where you don’t have a purpose and that was kind of the more challenging part, if that makes sense.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. That’s something, what you said there about waking up in the morning and not sure what to do and making that transition, I think it’s something a lot of people wish they had. Tell me about your income philosophy with investing. I noticed everything you do or a lot of things you do is income, passive income and you’re really going for that. I read some of your blogs where you really talked about that. Tell me about your philosophy with passive income and income investing.
Alexis Assadi: For me it’s always been the most reliable way to invest. I found that you can have a pretty good nexus between getting reliable cashflow, getting good risk adjusted returns and I find it a little bit easier to sleep at night because I’m not constantly trying to figure out whether the markets are going to go up or down or sideways. I invest for yield. I have a few other things that I look for within every deal. But, at the end of the day, I’m trying to make sure that the investments that I’m making are paying consistent cashflow.
Alexis Assadi: I don’t necessarily think it is the ultimate way to invest. Everyone has something that works for them. It’s just something that I’ve attached myself to because it’s worked really well for me. Everyone else that I know that invests for income, including yourself, they don’t really veer too far away from it. I know as a real estate investor yourself, a lot of your deals produce high levels of cashflow. As they say, “Cash is king.”
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, yeah. I love that. Let me ask you something actually, where did you learn about the whole cash flow mentality? Because I think there is a lot of people out there who have a job and they wish they could get out of it. They wish they could do what you’re doing, but they just don’t even know where to look. Where did you learn about cashflow and all these things? You’ve got some brilliant blogs on your site where you’re talking about all these different things. Where did you learn all this stuff?
Alexis Assadi: To be honest with you, I’m like every other person that has learned about passive income and financial freedom and cash flow. I read the famous book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. He talked about having income producing assets. That really resonated with me.
Alexis Assadi: With respect to the rest of his book and some of the other stuff that Mr. Kiyosaki has written, I don’t agree with everything. There are some stuff that I agree with, somethings that I don’t necessarily agree with but the concepts of generating monthly cash flow, building passive income, achieving financial freedom, that concept, it just stuck out to me. I read that at 23 and ever since then that’s been my mantra.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow, [crosstalk 00:07:02] tell me about your very first deal. Oh, go ahead, go ahead.
Alexis Assadi: Sorry man, sorry man.
Alexis Assadi: Yeah, I mean, even today I’m 30 now and even today I don’t really invest in speculative deals. Most of my, as you know as well, most of my investments are debt investments where we’re lending capital. I’ve never, I don’t think I’ve really done, land banking or anything too speculative. Everything I’ve done has always had the income component to it. Still, to this day, I’m just not really interested in veering away from what’s worked well.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah. Like you said, “Cash is king.” If the cash is coming in every month, you’re doing great.
Stefan Aarnio: Now, Alexis, tell me about your very first deal because I think there’s a lot of people at home that, they see what the financial freedom looks like or they see what the cashflow looks like or they can imagine but, that very first deal that you [inaudible 00:07:59], tell us about your very first deal. Did it go good? Did it go bad? What did you learn?
Alexis Assadi: The first deal that I did was a … It was a loan actually. It was just a simply promissory note. It was, I don’t know, 2012 or so. There was a guy that I knew as a young man. He was looking for capital to finance. At the time he was, I think building a financial advisory practice. He needed a little bit of capital to help boost that. That was my first real experience with working with a lawyer, getting somebody to do all the paperwork, managing your risk on the deal. We had all kinds of security agreements.
Alexis Assadi: The deal was fine. It worked out well. He did well with his business. He actually owns now, like a results of that and a few other investments that I’ve made with him and obviously, his hard work and efforts, he actually owns a really big advertising company across western Canada. It was a transformative deal because it showed me the powers of debt investing. That’s kind of been what I really latched on to ever since then.
Alexis Assadi: I’ve also made some stupid investments. I had one where I invested in this … It was just a stock in the US. It was a real estate company. But, I, for whatever reason I didn’t think about the currency conversion. As soon as I moved my money over, I lost 20%. Then, I tried to transfer it back and I paid more fees. It was a disaster.
Stefan Aarnio: All the way [inaudible 00:09:40].
Alexis Assadi: Yeah, that was one of those earlier deals. I’ve definitely not been successful on every deal but the losses that I’ve taken have just been because of stupid mistakes not because they were bad investments per se.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. Let’s talk about that for a second. Warren Buffett has a rule, never lose money. Rule number one is, never lose money. Rule number two is, obey rule number one. Let’s hear about some ways you can lose money or what some of the stupid ways, because, usually an investor has that criteria, is it going outside of your own criteria? How have you lost money before?
Alexis Assadi: I’ve only lost money when I’ve made investments that I didn’t follow a strict set of rules for. With that real estate stock in US, I wish I could remember the name, I could probably find it somewhere, but basically, I got excited and I rushed to pull the trigger. I didn’t … Normally, I have a pretty specific set of due diligence that I’ll follow and that removes the emotion and the passion out of the equation, which are not good things when you’re about to move money somewhere.
Alexis Assadi: They’re good things to help you plan and get excited, but when it comes time to pull the trigger, you have to be totally stone-cold. I recognize that I’m not able to do that unless I follow pre-set criteria. That example, that stock example, is a perfect one because I was just super excited, I figured I knew what I was doing and I literally lost money instantly. It wasn’t like … It wasn’t even one of these things where it failed months later, it was instantly because I’d forgotten about the currency issues. It was a disaster.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow, that’s crazy. Now, let me ask you this, Alexis, do you think that success is more about talent or do you think it’s more about hard work?
Alexis Assadi: Oh no, it’s hard work and it’s also consistency. I’m not a business guy. You’re a business guy, you’ve always been an entrepreneur, you know how to build businesses. I could have just as well been a lawyer. I’m definitely not a full-scale entrepreneur who can create amazing things out of nothing.
Alexis Assadi: What I am is I work hard and I can see the … I can play the long game and I can be consistent, these are skills that anyone can develop, they’re not unique to me by any stretch of the imagination. I certainly find that it’s more about hard work and consistency than it is about talent, because I certainly don’t have talent in business.
Alexis Assadi: One thing that I notice a lot of people … One mistake I notice a lot of people make is when they’re going to start a business or whatever venture, they go through the cycle of they want to … They get really excited about the business, they’ll work really hard for a few months, they’ll put in all the effort they possibly can put. Then they’ll go three, four months without seeing results and then they start to get discourage and then they’ll either quit or jump to the next business. They’ll get really excited again, they work really hard.
Alexis Assadi: But it’s like, if you’re not willing to put in four months of all-out efforts, which is difficult when it’s really discouraging, because you’re not going to see results within those first few months, you’re probably not going to be successful at it. I find that to be a mistake that I see a lot of people make. As of the last few years, I’ve not been one to make that mistake, although I did make it many times when I was younger.
Stefan Aarnio: Tell me about that. It’s almost like dating. People go with someone, they date them for two months, it’s exciting. Then they break up after three months and they go find someone else, they get excited again. What are some of the things that you got excited about when you were starting and then you jumped to the next thing and you said, “Oh, I’m just going to find the next best thing.”? What are some of the ‘shiny penny syndrome’ things you went through?
Alexis Assadi: I’ve always been into having online businesses. I find them to be great ways to … You can have international customer base, super low cost, it’s really easily scalable and there’s so many ways you can make money with it and it’s obviously the business of the 21st century.
Alexis Assadi: I’ve tried many, many times over the years to have online businesses. My first one, I think, was in 2010 called financalguidance.ca. If you view the domain now, it’s dead. I don’t think anyone owns it anymore, but basically it was a website where I was trying to be a journalist and cover, not like …
Alexis Assadi: I guess finance guidance, is another thing, but a little bit of a misleading name, which was probably part of the problem, but it was more so, I was covering economic concept, why does oil go up or why does oil fluctuate in value? What makes gold go up or down in value? Why are coffee prices increasing? I covered concepts like that. That was one out of 20 different online businesses that I tried that just never went anywhere, all because I was never able to put in the requisite time and consistency and effort that I needed to.
Stefan Aarnio: You started a blog, you started a little blog and I guess one of the issues, it did not monetize and it doesn’t have a product or having all these little businesses. I got tons of stuff, I always say this Alexis, 80% of what I do doesn’t work, the 20% of the wins is what people see. With you, you starting out all these little blogs and stuff, what was the issue with that, did you fall out of love with it?
Alexis Assadi: I just didn’t know what I was doing. There’re some basic things you need to do when you have a website. A good idea would be to have a website name that reflects what your website is about. That was the one mistake that I had made. But, I also didn’t know, you should be collecting email addresses, you should maybe get out there on social media. You need to produce content that people are going to not just find helpful, but actionable.
Alexis Assadi: I just didn’t know how to build a website. I just thought it was about, you put an article up there and all of a sudden people are going to find it. When I saw that 10 people a day were visiting my website and I wasn’t making any money, I was running Google Ads, I think I made a total of 60 cents that entire period.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Alexis Assadi: I just figured … Yeah, it was pretty brutal. I just figured, “Okay, well, this website is not working, so then on to the next one.” I did that a whole bunch of times until it finally worked.
Stefan Aarnio: Right. Well, you got a very successful website now, alexisassadi.com. I’ve been there, I’ve read it. You’ve got tremendous traffic. Tell me about your online business today and your brand that you created. Personal brand is great versus starting out with the very first website. What was the difference between those two?
Alexis Assadi: This one I stuck with. alexisassadi.net has gone through a lot of changes, not just optically, but also in terms of the content that I write. When I was younger, when I started in 2014, when I was younger, I started to … It was all about, not like ‘get rich quick’, but it was more into that corny, cheesy stuff.
Alexis Assadi: Then, later on, as the years went by and, as I became a more knowledgeable investor, I started to talk about building income streams through hard work, through efforts, making investments that are backed by a foundation of due diligence. I started writing stuff that was more real, almost, and it evolved as I evolved as a business person as well.
Alexis Assadi: All the while you’re learning about building websites, you learn the basics, that you capture email addresses, you market to people, you build trust with people, you communicate with them in such a way that you’re helpful but not invasive. It’s gone through its own periods of transition, but right now that site alone, depending on the month, will do anywhere from $20,000 to $80,000 in sales.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow.
Alexis Assadi: Just from a little online website that cost me a few hundred dollars a year to maintain.
Stefan Aarnio: And with no employees, no overheads, you probably have some hosting, that’s incredible, Alexis. I mean, that’s the kind of thing, I think, that a lot of people dream about is getting a website like that and praying that [inaudible 00:18:12].
Stefan Aarnio: Now, let me ask you this, what do you think is more important, is it more important to build a great brand or to build a great business?
Alexis Assadi: Oh, that’s a tough one. I don’t know, can you have one without the other? I mean, you probably know about this more than me because your business is very much centered on your brand. You, yourself, are a very credible and accomplished real estate investor. Could you have a brand or could you have your business without your brand?
Stefan Aarnio: Well, personally, I’m a brand guy. I call myself a ‘brandpreneur’, like I’m all about the brand. Without the brand, I think that there really is nothing. That is in my personal perspective. I think there’s some people out there that are just business and hard core cash flow first and maybe they want to be anonymous, but what I noticed about you, which I think is really cool, is you’ve got this great online website, online brand, I’m sure you’re getting not just the direct sales, I’m sure there’s tons of positioning and probably even getting investors or people to work with you from that. How important is the brand to having a great business is? To me, I think it’s everything, but to you, what is it?
Alexis Assadi: Yeah. Obviously, brand is important. It’s the same reason why companies like Nike, they’ll use people like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. You want to have someone that you can identify with and build a relationship with in some capacity. I certainly agree with you in terms of the importance of a brand.
Alexis Assadi: The one thing that I’ve tried to steer clear of with my site is I’m trying to get away from it being built on my “success” or accomplishments or whatever, I try to be a source of information. I’ve moved away from the whole ‘I’m Alexis, I’m so great’ kind of thing and I’m more towards ‘let me be a source of content’. I hope that people will identify with the brand for that reason as opposed to, “Oh, it’s Alexis Assadi, financial freedom, get rich, passive income.” As I’ve gotten older …
Stefan Aarnio: The magic show, bro.
Alexis Assadi: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. It just got cheesy to me. That just comes with growing up and just not wanting to be in that space. We also know, a lot of these seminar guys are … They’re kind of slimy. A lot of these big internet personality people. I know you know a lot of these guys, but not all of them are legit people. Their success comes from cramming people in a room and convincing them for two hours that they’re really good at something. I’ve just never really been into that space.
Stefan Aarnio: Let me ask you this, Alexis, we’re talking about the ‘get rich quick’ and the magic show. I think we both have been in that space at some point. Do you think there’s such thing as ‘get rich quick’? Is there even such a thing for the people out there looking for that financial freedom and the ‘get rich quick’, is that just a pipe dream?
Alexis Assadi: I mean, it exists. I don’t know how long it took you to build your business, but it couldn’t have been more than a few years before your business went from zero to at least making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, right?
Stefan Aarnio: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Alexis Assadi: If you look at it from that perspective, it’s certainly doable within a timeframe of months to years where you can at least become financially free. Most people who do reach financial freedom build a business and at some point along that road, they can quit their job and work in their business and, technically, become financially free.
Alexis Assadi: But, that’s not the definition that when people hear ‘get rich quick’, that’s not the definition that they ascribe to. What they’re thinking of is, “I’ll invest in this crypto currency and then a week later I’ll become a millionaire.” Yeah, you can get rich quick in the sense of it might take you a few years of a lot of hard work. That’s pretty quick, in my opinion. It’s a lot faster than saving up to 40 years and trying to retire when you’re 70 years old, but it’s not going to happen overnight. It depends I guess on what you think ‘quick’ is.
Stefan Aarnio: Right. I think for business, for me, you’re talking about a couple of years, I think it’s first two years, you’re making nothing, you’re eating cat food, it’s horrible. Five years, if you’re still around, you’re probably affluent. If you make it to 10, you’re probably rich. Do you agree with that?
Alexis Assadi: Totally. You were how old when you reached your two-year mark?
Stefan Aarnio: Well, it’s a good question. I’m kind of like you, when I was 22, 23, I went and did one deal that made enough passive income to make me not have to live, it took care of all my living expenses. When I came in to the real estate game, first year, I did one deal. Second year, I did one deal. Third year, I did 12 deals, then I did 24 deals, the next year then 30 deals, but I had that base of cash flow the whole time. I wasn’t threatened by my living expenses the whole time.
Stefan Aarnio: Now, I’m at the 10-year mark in real estate and six-year mark, I guess, in information and training, but I found that to be true is that first two years, it just kills people. That’s when people are coming in and they trying to do it. They go from business to business, they join the MOM, quit the MOM. Join a real estate thing, quit it. Start a blog, they quit it and they just bounce around. But if you make it to five or if you make it to 10, that’s where it’s really at.
Alexis Assadi: Certainly.
Stefan Aarnio: For me, when I got to about a dozen, two dozen deals a year, that’s where I really started to have a life. That was maybe around year four or five. I’d say five years, I started having money.
Alexis Assadi: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, which is, when you think about it, five years is pretty quick. I mean, you are in your late 20s or early 30s, that’s … You’ve gotten to a place in a few years where people will never get to because they never take the chance. But no matter how you look at it, five years is very fast in the grand scheme of things.
Stefan Aarnio: Right. 10 years is even better. I think it’s amazing looking back, on my very second deal, I was like, “I want to make two grand of passive income.” That was my [inaudible 00:25:04], that was heaven, two grand of passive income. Here I am, 10 years later, I’m working on a deal, $22,000 of passive income and that’s better.
Alexis Assadi: Right.
Stefan Aarnio: At 10 years, you just add a zero on everything. Some people might [inaudible 00:25:17] at two grand a month. I like two grand, I like 20 grand, but 22 grand a month of passive income, that’s where you can go rent a Lamborghini and be a bitcoin millionaire if you want to.
Alexis Assadi: Exactly, exactly.
Stefan Aarnio: [crosstalk 00:25:32]. Yeah, you want in, man? Maybe I’ll give you a call after this. We’ll chat about it. I was going to ask you, everybody I meet on this show, everybody successful is obsessed with something. What’s something that you’re obsessed with? What’s your obsession?
Alexis Assadi: It’s going to sound really corny, but I am addicted to reading the news. It’s my thing. I don’t know why, man, but I read, especially the Washington Post and New York Times, I am, three hours a day, reading, reading, reading. For whatever reason, I’m super into it. That’s my guilty pleasure. I mean, obviously, I have other things, but if you’re talking about obsession, the things that I’m super into every day, that’s the one.
Stefan Aarnio: Well, that’s interesting. I remember, I worked in a call center, I was selling luxury hotel rooms to rich people. I was 22 at the time. This lady called in and she said, “Oh, I’m the wife of this construction empire in …” I don’t know, Mid-West United States, somewhere. I looked them up over on the phone and it was this massive construction conglomerate and she was the wife. She wanted to tell me she was the wife. I said, “What time are you landing?” She said, “Whenever I told the jet to take off.”
Stefan Aarnio: Private jet, super rich, probably doing a hundred million plus in revenue, this construction group. I said to her, I said, “Okay, what newspaper would you like with the hotel room?” Because, obviously, it’s a luxury hotel room and I think there’s five to choose from. She said, “My husband will them all. He reads all of them.”
Alexis Assadi: Right.
Stefan Aarnio: Do you think there’s a big … Is there a big connection between guys like Warren Buffet who reads 500 pages a day, your average CEO who reads 50 to 60 books a year, Alexis Assadi doing three hours of the news, is there a connection between reading and increasing your income?
Alexis Assadi: Ultimately, investing is simply a function of understanding what’s going on in the world, interpreting it and then trying to make decisions that will capitalize on your interpretations, so totally. I don’t see how you can be a knowledgeable or how you can be a good investor without being knowledgeable about what’s going on.
Alexis Assadi: I would imagine, I know you do a lot of your deals in the [inaudible 00:28:00] area, I would imagine, you probably know everything that’s going on, at least locally, but probably province-wide and nationally as well because all these political decision, taxation decision, different legislation, they all impact your real estate business. I couldn’t imagine you being a good investor without at least understanding the framework in which you’re participating.
Stefan Aarnio: Right. Well for me, I’m very micro. I’ll pick a neighborhood and be like, “This neighborhood, I’m going to know everything about this one neighborhood.” It gets really micro and then sometimes macro. Let me ask you this, Alexis, what motivates you to be great at what you do? What’s the motivation to be really good at what you’re doing there?
Alexis Assadi: It gives me purpose. I don’t have a lot of hobbies. I hang out with some friends, I have my family and my dog and stuff like that, but this, building my businesses gives me a reason to wake up in the morning and to be excited. I don’t know if I have some great purpose that I’m out there trying to pursue. I want to be able to wake up, feel motivated, put in a hard day’s of honest work and go to sleep at night exhausted feeling like I did something good that day.
Alexis Assadi: I have a difficult time disconnecting. I vacation quite a bit, but even when I’m overseas, I’m always connected, always working. I get a lot of personal enjoyment out of working. You know what I mean? Yeah, that’s … I wish I could say I had some big dream that I’m following or some amazing vision that I’m just trying to push forward, but I’m just trying to do my thing and have a career that’s built on honest hard work. Hopefully, the offshoots of what I’m doing can be beneficial to other people as well.
Stefan Aarnio: I love it, man. Let me ask you this, Alexis, what’s one moment in your entrepreneurial career where you thought you were going to fail and it would all be done?
Alexis Assadi: Every single day, man.
Stefan Aarnio: Give me one story where you’re like, “Oh man, we woke up and there was no money in the accounts.” Or whatever. Give me one great story.
Alexis Assadi: I haven’t had a situation where I thought it was done. You know what I mean? I haven’t been like, “Oh, this is the end.” As I say, you have a little bit of passive income which always gives you that safety net, just in case.
Alexis Assadi: But a good example is with online businesses, namely alexisassadi.net, having a change in a Google algorithm can wreak havoc on your web traffic. I’ve had months where my … Probably five articles on my site drive 99% of my traffic. Now, there are times were, for whatever reason, one or two of these articles will get bopped down to the second page of Google or down to the bottom of the first page of Google and my traffic will be cut by 20%, 30%. For a month, you end up losing 20%, 30% of your traffic, which means 20%, 30% of your revenue.Then you start thinking, “Oh my God, is this the beginning of a downward spiral? What’s going to happen the next month?”
Alexis Assadi: That is very common with online companies. The trick, of course, is to fix your articles and make them better. I can go on for all day about this stuff, but basically changing with the requirements of search engine optimization is something that you’ve got to do if you have an online business.
Alexis Assadi: I didn’t know that earlier on. Now, when these pitfalls happen, which they do all the time, I know how to manage them and not freak out, but it’s not a good feeling when you see your traffic fall by 20% and that fall is sustained for a good month. You start thinking that this is the beginning of the end.
Stefan Aarnio: Let me ask you this, Alexis, did you get affected by the rules in Europe with social media and all that, in May, there was, with the GDRP or whatever they called it, did that affect your online business?
Alexis Assadi: It did not because most of my traffic comes from the United States and Canada. I also do you have some readers in the UK, and in Germany as well, but I’d say 60% of the people who are on my site are from the US, the other 30% are probably Canadian and the remaining 10% is just international. Thankfully, I didn’t have to deal with that.
Stefan Aarnio: Oh, it’s crazy, man. I remember, I called my guy, he does my ads and he has 10 guys, just like me, he does ads for and everybody was dying. I think my revenue went down 75% in one month. It was just ‘boom’, one real change, one government thing. That was terrifying.
Stefan Aarnio: Let me ask you this, Alexis, do you believe that … What do you think is the biggest cause of failure in people? I mean, you meet people all the time who want to do this kind of stuff, what causes people to fail?
Alexis Assadi: They don’t have concentration. That’s a very narrow way. Obviously people who have life circumstances. A person who’s born in Canada in a middle class neighborhood automatically has more chance at success than someone born in Somalia, but all things considered, well if you’ve got a fair shot at life, the biggest stimulant for failure I think is the inability to focus.
Alexis Assadi: Like I was saying before, getting discouraged and then jumping on to the next thing. So many people that I talk to, that I invest in or had passed on investing in [inaudible 00:34:16] be more accurate, they’ve got a good idea, they’ve got passion, but they just can’t stick with the grind day after day after day after day, going three months, six months, nine months making no money, seeing no noticeable progress. Then you just jump on to the next thing and that killed it. I think that’s the biggest catalyst for failure, personally, notwithstanding other socio-economic conditions that people endure.
Stefan Aarnio: Love it.
Stefan Aarnio: When you got started in this, did other people doubt you? Did your mom and dad and your family say, “Alexis, it’s never going to work. Go back to work. Forget about this and go back to the 9-5 grind.”?
Alexis Assadi: No. My parents have always been super supportive of everything I’ve done, so I’m grateful for that. The one time where I kind of diverged from what my parents thought I was going to do was I had initially planned to go to law school out of university. I did my degree in political science, so you’re basically unemployable. The logical thing to do after getting a pol sci degree is you go to law school, but at that time, I didn’t know anything about the law and I wasn’t motivated to do it beyond the fact that it was the thing that you should do as a pol sci degree.
Alexis Assadi: I wanted to get into business, I wanted to be in investing, in some capacity. I remember having a bit of a, it wasn’t like a crazy thing, but it’s certainly like a bit of a shock to both my parents. They’re like, “Well, what do you mean business? You’ve never done anything in business. You’ve never taken a business course, you’ve never even had a business yourself.” That was kind of the only thing.
Alexis Assadi: But my parents are being super supportive. I have a very small circle of friends. I have a supporting wife as well, so everyone that I have in my little network has always been pretty supportive of what I’ve been doing. I honestly can’t think of a time where I’ve, certainly not in the last 10 years, where I’ve said to someone, “I’m going to build this business.” Or, “I’m going to do this.” And somebody just says, “Sorry, man, this is a guaranteed failure.”
Stefan Aarnio: Right. that’s great, great to have supportive circle around you, man. That’s awesome.
Alexis Assadi: Yeah, you hear about a lot of people who overcome all kinds of adversity and that hasn’t been my experience. I’m really fortunate for that. I know, with you, your dad now, I think he either invests with you or he buys properties based on what you teach. Was he and your family, were they supportive from the beginning or did they come in later after you became very successful?
Stefan Aarnio: Oh, super negative, man, super, super negative. I come from a family of teachers. Everybody’s a teacher. My aunt’s a teacher, my mom’s a teacher and teachers hangout with teachers. It’s kind of like you were saying, “Oh man, I’ve got a pol sci degree, I better go to law school.” I got an English degree and my mom’s like, “Well, you can be an English teacher just like me now.” I said, “I’m never going to be a teacher.”
Stefan Aarnio: I remember, I bought a $1500 Donald Trump Weekend Seminar in 2007-2008 with my guitar teacher money. I brought it home, it was like Jack and the Beanstalk, I climbed up the stairs to my mom and said, “Mom, I bought this Jack and the Beanstalk magic beans Donald Trump course.” She said, “How much did you pay?” I said, “1500.” She said, “You’re stupid.” Threw the beans out the window and the next morning we had a beanstalk I had to climb.
Stefan Aarnio: My dad, I had to go to his house and he said, “You’re never going to do it, you’re never going to buy a property. No one’s going to finance you. Even if they finance you, the bank’s going to call the mortgage, you’re going to be bankrupt.” That’s what my dad said to me.
Alexis Assadi: Right.
Stefan Aarnio: Super negative. But, with that being said, it’s negative because they’re to protect me. My dad wanted me to be a banker, my mom wanted me to be a teacher and whatever. They’re just doing that out of love. Now, my dad works for me. He’s done 10 or 11 deals this year. He’s in the wholesale department, checking titles on properties all day, so it’s cool, it’s full circle. I used him in one of my ads, you’ve probably seen him in one of my ads.
Alexis Assadi: Yeah. you’re all over my Instagram, man.
Stefan Aarnio: Yeah. Oh, dude, Instagram, we’re pulling it up right now.
Stefan Aarnio: Alexis, if you could go back to the beginning and talk to 18 year old Alexis Assadi, what’s the piece of advice you’d give yourself?
Alexis Assadi: That is a good question. I would tell myself to pick something that I enjoy doing and pursue it right until the very end. I don’t have kids, but I think about when I was 18, I was just going into a university at that time. It was one of these things that you had to do in order to be a ‘somebody’ and then to get a job. It was just one of these things that you had to do and I didn’t see any value in it beyond it being a stepping stone. I think about it now, if I had kids, I would encourage them to go to university because I think it’s a good way to open up your mind. It’s not the only way, but it’s a good way to learn.
Alexis Assadi: But I would say to my son or my daughter, if I ever have kids, “Study what you want to study, get interested in something and then just choose whatever you want to do and bust your butt working at it and it will become something.”
Alexis Assadi: I believe that if you work hard at something, eventually, you’ll reach your goal or if you don’t reach your goal, you’ll reach something that you could have never predicted at the beginning. Do you know what I mean?
Stefan Aarnio: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Alexis Assadi: You may not follow the path that you thought you would, but as long as you’re passionate about something and you’re willing to give it all of your effort and attention and consistency, I think that you will be successful in however you define success, personally. That’s what I would tell myself at 18 years old, just get passionate about something and just go balls out with it.
Stefan Aarnio: I love it, I love it. Alexis, top three books that changed your life, what are they?
Alexis Assadi: I got to say Rich Dad, Poor Dad, as cliché as that is, I’m sorry.
Stefan Aarnio: Everybody says that.
Alexis Assadi: Yeah, I know and I’m so sorry, but it is what it is. I’ve read an amazing book by Yuval Noah Harahi who wrote a book a few years ago called Sapiens. Basically, it is a … It’s a book that kind of explains human history. I found that it gave me a good understanding of how small I am, how small you are and how small every other human being is in the grand scheme of things. Then, I found that it really help, ground me. I found that to be an outstanding, life-changing book that I read maybe two, three years ago.
Alexis Assadi: I’m not a science or an anthropology person, but the man writes it in a very easy to read but still sophisticated manner. You’re reading complex academic stuff, but in layman’s term almost. I thought that was a great book. I recommend Sapiens to anyone. As long as you’re human, you’ll find it useful.
Alexis Assadi: He also had a follow-up book which I really enjoyed as well called Homo Deus and that is about the future of what humans might be. Those two books have been … Those three books have be super impactful. I know two of them are kind of piggy-backing on each other.
Alexis Assadi: Another book that I really enjoyed reading was about Vladimir Putin, it’s called The New Tsar. I forget who wrote that, but … Or The Modern Tsar, something like that. It’s a great biographical piece on the leader of Russia and just kind of about how he started, how he consolidated power. It’s just one of these books where you’re hearing about a person who has done so much wrong, but has also accomplished so much. For whatever reason, I don’t know if it changed my life, but it was a very stimulating read that kind of gives you, in a weird way, motivation that no matter where you start, you can literally make it to the top of anything.
Alexis Assadi: I know Vladimir Putin is kind of a weird example. There’s so many other people that one could think about, but that book, it showed that no matter where you start from, you can make it to the top. As I say, he’s not the best guy in the world, but the book is pretty cool.
Stefan Aarnio: Wow. I’ve read books about Putin too and he’s got amazing rise. He was a scrappy little kid from nowhere in Russia and now he runs half the world, so it’s pretty unbelievable. Let me ask you this, Alexis, what’s the one thing that young people need to succeed these days?
Alexis Assadi: That’s another good question, man, you should be a journalist. Young people … I don’t know, man. I think probably being open to having your views and opinions challenged. We live in a society now where, especially for younger generations, everything is offensive, everything is rude, everything bothers someone.
Alexis Assadi: I actually agree with a lot of the liberal concepts that have emerged and that are emerging, but I think it’s almost gotten to an extent where there’re just some things that you can’t challenge somebody’s opinion about. You can’t do it in such a manner without it becoming a controversial or without it becoming a heated argument where people get upset and offended.
Alexis Assadi: I think if you’re a young person, you should take advantage of the fact that you’re young and you’re malleable and you should open your mind and be open to having your conceptions of the world challenged and your opinion should not be set in stone, really, at any age, but especially at a young age.
Alexis Assadi: I don’t know if that was as much of an issue when I was a young kid myself. There was, obviously, political correctness, but it wasn’t to the extent that exists today. As I say, I agree, with a lot of the sentiments, I agree with a lot of the liberal concepts that have emerged, that have taken place, but at some point, you’ve got to be able to challenge somebody’s opinion without being deemed insensitive, racist, a bigot. You’ve just got to be able to have intellectual conversation with someone.
Alexis Assadi: You hear about these people who … I forgot her name now, the … She was a … God, I’m so sorry, I forgot her name, but she was, basically, a survivor of genital mutilation. She was a Muslim lady. Of course, her name escapes me now, but she wrote a book about her experiences and she’s done very, very well in her life, but she’s being dis-invited from university campuses just because of what she said has challenged the way that students feels about things.
Alexis Assadi: I’m thinking, “Well, this is a person who’s gone through some pretty traumatic stuffs.” Ayaan Hirsi Ali is her name. Her name is Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Sorry. Ayaan Hirsi Ali had these experiences. She’s had horrible, horrible early part of her life and then she can’t go to certain campuses and speak her mind and speak of her experiences and share her life experience. I find that to be a function of people just being closed-minded, which is so stupid because when you’re young, you should be learning, you should have your mind open to new ideas. That’s kind of a long answer, I’m sorry, but that …
Stefan Aarnio: Well, it’s interesting certainly Alexis, because, in my opinion, a campus, a university is a place to explore all sorts of crazy ideas and you should put anybody up there and speak about anything, just because they’re speaking about it doesn’t mean you have to agree or disagree but you’re right, it’s almost like we’re losing our freedom of speech here by trying to censor things or keep certain people from talking these days, because that’s one of the great things that the western world is founded on is being able to speak without being thrown at jail or chained up or beheaded or something like that. We have a really great place and we’re going backwards. Awesome.
Alexis Assadi: Exactly.
Stefan Aarnio: Is there any way that … Alexis, we’re going to wrap up here. How can people get in touch with Alexis Assadi and how can they talk to you if they want to know more?
Alexis Assadi: Well, first off, I appreciate you having me on your show and I appreciate everyone listening. My website is alexisassadi.net. I’d be great if you go there, read my stuff, subscribe. I also do a lot of business in real estate financing. If you are an entrepreneur, if you’re a real estate investor, if you’re a real estate developer and you’re looking for funding, I fund a lot of these kinds of deals, so I encourage you to go to pacincome.com. There’s a little bit more information about what we do. If you’re looking for financing, if you’re looking for a business loan, I’d be happy to consider you for that at pacincome.com, like pacificincome.com.
Stefan Aarnio: Awesome. Thanks so much for being in the show, Alexis. Respect the grind and we’ll connect again soon.
Alexis Assadi: I appreciate it, man. Thanks.
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