In the land of real estate investors, it’s generally a sea of people that all look the same. Joe Fairless joins us today to discuss how you can differentiate yourself from the pack in your real estate business (or any small business). There are many things you can do to brand your business, brand yourself and adjust the value that you bring to relationships that will come back to you ten-fold. It’s a shame that more investors and small businesses don’t do a better job of this…but after this episode, you can! Check on this FlipNerd Show to learn more!
Mike: Welcome to the FlipNerd.com podcast. This is your host Mike Hambright and on this show I introduce you to expert real estate investors, awesome entrepreneurs, and super-cool vendors that serve our industry. We publish new shows each week and have hundreds of previous shows and tip videos available to you all of which you can access by visiting us as FlipNerd.com or visiting us in the iTunes store.
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Mike: Hey, it’s Mark Hambright with FlipNerd.com. Welcome back for another exciting VIP interview where I interview successful sale investing experts and entrepreneurs in our industry to help you learn and grow. Today I’m joined by my friend Joe Fairless. Joe is a real estate investor. He teaches small businesses how to operate successfully. He is a fellow podcaster in the real estate space and much more. He’s got his hands in a bunch of things, but he’s a corporate refugee like probably a lot of you listening. So there will be some good lessons in here as well.
It’s really hard to stand out as a real estate investor in this industry or even a small business and Joe has a ton of marketing experience and advertising experience because before he started real estate investing, he was an advertising executive at some of the leading agencies in America and he’s bringing those lessons into the real estate space.
Today he is going to tell us more about himself and he’s going to talk to us about how you can differentiate and brand yourself to be more successful in your business whether you are a real estate investor or even any sort of small business. So there are going to be some great lessons and some great nuggets today. Before we get started though, let’s take a moment to recognize our featured sponsors.
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Please note, the views and opinions expressed by the individuals in this program do not necessarily reflect those of FlipNerd.com or any of its partners, advertisers or affiliates. Please consult professionals before making any investment or tax decisions as real estate investing can be risky.
Mark: Hey Joe, welcome to the show.
Joe: Hey, thank you. It’s great to be on the show. Glad that I was able to have this conversation with you and all your listeners.
Mark: Yeah, Yeah. Thanks for being here today. So I think you are probably the first person to join us from a vehicle.
Joe: Oh yeah. Well, I’m probably the first person who is joining you immediately after traveling from New York City last night to Columbus, Ohio this morning-ish, and then to Cincinnati more this morning.
Joe: Then arriving at the parking lot one minute before we were supposed to have our conversation. So I probably broke two new things in that stretch.
Mark: Yeah, the cool is that you are actually at the property that kind of got you out of corporate America. Right? You kind of are parked outside of your apartment complex. Is that right?
Joe: I am. That is correct.
Mark: All right. Cool.
Joe: And fortunately, we have Wi-Fi in the welcome center. So I am using the Wi-Fi from the welcome center in my vehicle.
Mark: Awesome. Awesome. Well, thanks again for being here. So you know, what some folks may not know is that I recently joined you on your podcast for a kind of special four part series and Joe runs the Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show and had a special segment, kind of, a four piece segment and tell us the name of that again Joe.
Joe: It’s called the Best Flippin’ Series Ever Presented by Patch of Land and it’s all about how to flip properties successfully and I had you as one of the feature panelist along with three other panelists and it was about how to find the best flip, how to fund, how to fix, and how to actually flip the flip.
Mark: Awesome. Awesome. So check that out. We’ll have some links for that down below the video here, for those of you who are watching now. But Joe, before we get into the topic of the day. How can people better brand themselves? It’s kind of the plague of real estate investors. Many of them don’t even have a brand. They just kind of just flying by the seat of their pants and you and I know the importance that relationships play in this business. If you don’t have a brand then it’s hard to have a relationship and be memorable.
But before we get into that, tell us your background. It’s a unique story and we’d like to learn more about you.
Joe: Yeah and my background is certainly relevant to this topic today so I’m happy more so in this show to talk about my background than in others because of it might not be as relevant. So my background…
Mark: Also the other shows just aren’t relevant period.
Joe: Exactly, exactly. I mean we are totally focused on FlipNerd right now. My background is that I am from Texas, the DFW area, actually Fort Worth and even more narrow Aledo, Texas if anyone is familiar with the Fort Worth area. I went from Fort Worth in high school to Texas Tech and graduated and I quickly from there once I graduated moved to New York City.
My major was advertising, with an English minor and I graduated in 2005. I climbed the corporate ladder relatively quickly, where I was the youngest vice president to a New York City advertisement agency before my 30th birthday. At that point, I stopped and I re-assessed what my goals are, what my focus was and really if I was fulfilled because I’d reach my goal monetarily, I reached my goal for the salary and I reached my goal for title.
And I was like, I’m a huge Tony Robbins fan and Tony Robbins talks about the six human needs and the last two lead to fulfillment, growth and contribution and I didn’t feel like I was growing as much mentally, emotionally, physically. I guess physically is not really the thing anymore or this career. I didn’t feel like I was contributing.
And I’m not saying that’s not possible with advertising and working at ad agencies, because it is because people find a completely fulfilling career in that. That’s just not how I’m wired, personally. I’m just not meant to be doing that. So I needed to see what else I could pursue that led to more of that fulfilment, more of that contribution. So I started testing some different things. I did stand-up comedy in New York City. I know….
Mark: Do you have any jokes for us?
Joe: Oh my god, I hate telling people that because they’re always like tell…
Mark: Ok, We’ll come back to that. We’ll come back to it.
Joe: Yeah, I talked, let’s just say I talked about my roommate who turned out to be prostitute and I had no idea she was a prostitute whenever I lived with her.
Mark: She just kept having all these friends over, right?
Joe: Yeah, exactly. Always paid rent in cash, all that good stuff. Never late with rent. So I did that. I started interviewing people, successful people, and learning about their careers. So I started writing a book, How to Have a Remarkable Career, Join the Remarkables.
I started, I had been investing in single-family homes, and I saw that there was, I had some success with single-family homes in the Dallas, Fort Worth area. But I realized, I wasn’t that going to get to my goals as fast as I wanted to, if I continued to go at the pace I was at and that was about a home a year, or a home every year and a half.
So I knew I had to buy bigger and quicker, or at least bigger and that’s where I got to, I started my own company. I left advertising. I started my own company and my first career venture flopped. I wanted to be a career consultant for a marketing advertisement and PR, college students and young professionals to help them to climb the corporate ladder, but I quickly realized after spending 3,000 dollars on a website, that college students don’t have money to pay for a consultant to help them get the job.
So I mean, clearly a flawed business model that I learned from and I learned a lesson. You have to have clients before you have a business, or at least a product.
Mark: Yeah, you have to be going after clients that have money.
Joe: And you have to be going after clients that have money, exactly. So then I started my own real estate investing company where I raised money and buy apartment communities and I closed my first place six months after starting the company and that was about a year and half ago. Now I’m working on my second deal which is likely going to be a development deal.
Mark: That’s awesome.
Joe: Then I met you.
Mark: And everything changed. I want to point out a couple of things that you said here, Joe. I’m sure my show is like yours, we have a lot of veteran people that listen and there’s a lot of new people. A lot of people that aspire to leave their job, aspire to find a way forward, and I know you feel very much like I do, you want people to achieve those freedoms that you and I realize now and why we left corporate America.
So I want to point out a couple of really important things that you just said. First off, you really just started doing this a year and a half ago. And now you control millions of dollars in real estate at this point and you left a career that was lucrative for you, but not something that you were passionate about.
So I think that people can’t hear about that enough. There’s people that I’ve had on the show. I’ve only been a real estate investor for six and a half years, but I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of deals. But I think that overwhelms some people when they assume, well you are so far ahead… and at this point, I’ve been doing it for six a half years.
But six and a half years ago, I had never bought a house in my life. I had no experience and you hadn’t done this. You bought a few houses, but not to the scale that you’re at now and not to scale and opportunity that you have going forward. So I hope that that inspires people to take action and kind of get after things.
Another is, another thing that you and I have in common is that way before we started real estate investing, we started another business that failed. And I think it takes a special person to try start their own business and jump out there. It really takes, I’m not saying this to call myself a special person, but I tell people this, don’t let fear of failure get in your way because probably one of the best things you can do is fail. Just try to fail quickly, so you can move on. Right?
Joe: Absolutely and test as quickly as possible, as you said. It really doesn’t take a whole lot time to get some momentum going and to get you well on your way. It’s really just about getting started, and getting small positive milestones, even if you have to manufacture those positive milestones. Manufacture them in your mind. It’s all about just the momentum.
And most importantly if it aligns with what you really love to do if you’re really interested in it. It’s interesting. I just went to a Tony Robbins seminar, Unleash the Power Within. You know how, we always hear, find your passion, find your passion. Do what you’re passionate about. And sometimes it’s paralyzing to hear that because what is my exact passion?
But what they talked about is, it’s just, passion is stuff you enjoy doing. Passion is an emotion. So what are some things that you enjoy doing? Then it doesn’t have to be your end all, be all, just do stuff you enjoy doing. Then you’re going to be successful.
Mark: I think you’ll probably agree with this, and this surprises people when they hear this, and I haven’t said it many times, but the times I’ve said it, people are probably surprised by that. For me, it’s not about the real estate; it just happens to be the vehicle that I have chosen.
I’ve chosen it for a number of reasons. One, it kind of gives me the freedoms that I want. Two, there’s really huge potential opportunities. Three, I just found a way; I’m able to make my biggest marks. I think in terms of the things that your passionate about, sometimes it also has a lot to do with what you’re passionate about that real estate might enable you to do.
Joes: Completely, 100 percent agree. For me real estate is, you call it a vehicle, I call it a mechanism to get me to where I want to be. I love aspects of it. I love working with the people in real estate because as you know, real estate is totally a relationship-focused business. You could have the same deal from 10 different people, but if you know the actual seller, then you’re going to get the best terms because sometimes it’s not even about the money or about the sales prices is, it’s about the types of terms or whatever.
I love the relationship aspect of it a lot and really, real estate for me, my ideal job and this is where I’m headed is to be on Shark Tank. To be a venture capitalist, not only is it real estate, but it’s other types of start-ups where I’m mentoring people who are working on their start-ups and helping them out so it’s a certain aspect of real estate that I really enjoy.
Mark: Yeah, yeah. Great, great. Well, talk about how you integrated what you know about relationships, branding, a lot of those things into real estate and lets kind of get into the topic of the day. Teaching other people how they should start thinking about branding themselves and how to build those relationships, how to foster those relationships to help them be more successful.
Joe: Yeah, well, what I would say is that most important thing is to know who you are and then based on who you are. Let that light shine and really illustrate that through your brand. If we are talking about a start-up that is …[inaudible 00:16:35]
But with real estate it goes back to what I mentioned before you asked that question. In real estate, it’s about relationships, it’s about people. In order to have a connection with someone, you have to be authentic. To be authentic, you have to be true to who you are, obviously.
So it’s important that your brand, your real estate brand is true to who you are because they are going to see you online. They are going to read about whatever blog post you have and then when they meet you in person, if it’s not congruent with what they’ve seen so far, you’re going to throw them in a tailspin. And you’re not going to get the types of transactions, you’re not going to get the type of funding, you’re not going to be as successful at all with what you’re potential is. Not to mention, that you’re not going to feel as good about what you’re doing.
Whereas, if you are true to who you are, you’re just letting it live, baby, you’re just doing your thing and this is who you are. Then that is where you’re going to find the most fulfillment and that’s what you are really going to enjoy and consequently, that is where you are going to have the most success.
Mark: Yeah, I’ve talked a few times before to different guests and we talk about branding. There’s a big part of branding, that’s not necessarily the brand of your company, but it’s the brand of who you are, what you stand for. I think a lot of people when they hear branding, they tend to think of my company brand, what does my logo look like?
But a lot of it is because of those relationships. Who you are, people know that I can always count on this person, or whenever I see a deal from this guy, I should look at it because I believe his numbers, and I believe he’s honest in a space where a lot of people, you know, make up numbers to make their deal look good. And so yeah, those things are important.
So maybe start to share some advice on how people can apply that in the real world. How they can apply it to their own business.
Joe: Absolutely, so first and foremost, I’m going to start very basic, then go to more leveled stuff. The very basic thing is you have to have an online presence. You must, no questions. It doesn’t have to be a super complicated thing. It can be simply a logo that you get designed on Fiber.com for five bucks. There’s another website called Logo Guard that can do web hosting and also do your logo. So you got a logo for five dollars.
You need a website. You can go on Wix, Wix.com. My first site was on that, that was free and hosting is like 10 bucks a month. I don’t know. I’m not quite sure and you can buy a domain from Wix or GoDaddy for like 10 bucks for like 3 or 4 years.
At that point, you’ve got really all you need. You don’t have to have the design skills. You’ll have to bring on an intern, pay a designer a couple hundred dollars to do that. At that point, you’ve got a functioning website and a web presence. So then it’s like okay, there’s the presence, so now what do I do with it? Because nobody is going to discover it on their own.
For the most part, no one is going to discover it on their own and that’s where you implement, and this is where we go like a little next level. That’s when you implement what I call friendship marketing, some people call it content marketing, but it truly is about establishing a friendship because we do business we know and we can trust. Everybody’s heard that and in order to know I can trust people, you’ve got to treat them as though they are your best friend even though you might not have even met them before.
So how would you treat people as your best friend? You would give them information that adds value to their lives.
So what does that mean? Well, if you’re in the multi-family space like me, then if I’m targeting investors, then I’m constantly giving them information, not only related to the multi-family, but having people who I interview who can add value in their life from a diversification standpoint. So storage units, or maybe not even real estate-related, maybe it’s stocks, maybe it’s bonds, maybe it’s investing in start-ups.
So being the resource that continually adds value even when it doesn’t serve me personally. Because I know it’s not about a transaction, it’s about the relationship that I establish because a transaction can — a relationship. I mean that sinks in, that sticks with you. And the key is to continue to add that type of content and it totally depends on the specific customer or friend that you’re looking to create, the type of content that you. But then it’s providing that content, it’s providing on a consistent basis.
They key is consistency because, I know this happens to you all the time. When people come up to you, you’ve never met before and they’re like, I feel like I know you. And it’s like wow, I understand what you mean though when you say that because, you know, think about who is your favorite actor?
Mike: Ah, you put me on the spot here.
Joe: Or actress?
Mike: I don’t know, I’ll say Harrison Ford. How about that?
Joe: Harrison Ford… and…
Mike: I don’t know.
Joe: You’ve seen enough Harrison Ford movies where you know, you’ve seen … I think he’s in that one. Right?
Joe: The other movies, and if you were to see him in real life, you’d be like, “Harrison Ford! Hey! It’s me, it’s Mike! How’s it going?” You know, it’s like there’s an instant moment in time where you feel like you know Harrison and that’s because you’ve seen all of his movies and you’ve been immersed with his stuff. Not at a consistent basis, but during that time when you were, it was like some emotional stuff where you were into it.
And it’s having those types of moments with people is a scale-able way that really develops and creates these friendships and the friendships are the key to the success of your company. So when you come at it from an authentic standpoint, and you match up authenticity with creating consistent, overwhelming value-boom, you’ve got a business that will stand the test of time.
Mike: Yeah, I think if you kind of apply that to… There are a lot of parts of real estate obviously that are very transactional. Outside of multi-family where you operate, but a single-family, when you buy a house from somebody, there’s like a one percent chance that you’re going to buy a second house from that person. I mean, unless they are an investor and they have a bunch of rental properties.
But when you deal with a real estate agent selling a house, or their appraisers, or their client lenders, you almost never going to deal with those people again, but I think when you kind of set the tone to, I’m going to be helpful. I’m going to put good value out there that it carries over even into those transactional type of relationships just because you’re so used to being-I don’t know what the word is, you’re just used to being kind and sharing, let’s figure this out, and not so close minded as to, I don’t care anything about you, I just want to get this thing done, that it kind of carries over. You get some bad juju on yourself if you ah…yeah…
Joe: And what I would say is it sets you up for the next phase in your business too because what we talked about earlier. Real estate for us is a vehicle, a mechanism for larger things. Right?
And say, it’s launching a platform where you bring on other vendors and you’re looking to work with them and in the future. Well, when that happens, then you have these great relationships that have been established and you can shout to them and you’re starting off really well.
Another example being, I was just working on this development deal. It didn’t pan out. I spent 11 months of my life working on it. That’s the life of development and one of my consultants that I paid to help me with the project. I worked with him for the tail of end of it and because he has worked with me for so long, he actually didn’t charge me a lot of what he could have charged me because of our relationship together.
And I might not work with him again, but he knew that he wanted to invest that type of monetary commitment to me because, in hopes, well, I actually don’t know why, what his motivation was, but I imagine because he is a good guy and because he sees a long-term business potential. And you never know where that might go because of how our businesses constantly evolve.
Mike: And what it is, I know personally there are certain businesses or contractors that I work with and when I have a good experience, even If I don’t need them again… Anybody that operates a podcast like we do, you have to enjoy being a connector because that’s what you get out of it.
So maybe not everyone feels this way, but me personally, I go out of my way to recommend them to people that might want to use their services. Just because I had a good experience, and I’m like… There’s people that I recommend now that I haven’t used for years and I tell people, I haven’t used this guy for years, but when I did, it was a great experience and I recommend them to anybody that ever asks if they need help in that space and hopefully that comes around for that contract and I’m sure it does.
Mike: How do people, we are talking about some things that, some of it is fairly high level, maybe give some advice where people can take action today to take some time to think about how they can operate today, or how they are going to operate if they start their business, just getting-out-of-the-gate advice, what do they do to start moving into that direction?
Joe: Well, it depends on where they are at in their stage of the process. Let me go through a couple of different scenarios. If you don’t have a brand, then simply first ask the question. Who do I stand for? What do I want my company to stand for? What are my principles as a person, as a company? Then give that as a creative brief and when I say creative brief just tell the designer to design a logo based on that. Now you have a logo…
Now design that darn website. If you’ve already done that, if you already have a company. Okay, I’ve got that, I’m looking to scale it. I’m looking to go to the next level. Then the next level for me was a podcast. It’s incredible. I wouldn’t know you if it weren’t for my podcast. I wouldn’t be having this conversation if it weren’t for my podcast.
Mike: There would be an emptiness in your life.
Joe: I’d be very dark in my life, yes. Although, I wouldn’t have broken the speed limit driving from Cincinnati in anticipation of being late so that’s a good thing. But I didn’t get a ticket so I guess all is well.
I would say for somebody who is looking to scale their business, create something. If is not a podcast, if that is not your thing, that’s fine, but create something that can reach thousands of people and give outstanding value to them. It could be a newsletter, it could be a blog, it could be a podcast, it could be an event, a meet up group, in-person, whatever it is, it could be any number of those combinations, do whatever you enjoy most though.
I enjoy the podcast format because I just like talking. I feel like I could connect with people a lot better than if I were blogging on a forum. I feel that’s a lesser degree of personal connection and intimacy-you know, getting to know people.
An event would be best, but it’s not scale-able initially. You could take an event and turn that into a podcast where you got a build-in audience and then you grow it out that way. There’s any number of ways to slice the darn thing, but specifically create something.
If you already have a podcast, then what can you do to either enhance the podcast by bringing on more interview guests because that’s how you get the most exposure by the way, for your podcast. You bring on guests, then those guests, just like I’m going to do, whenever this episode airs, I’m going to share out the FlipNerd podcast. Right? And that’s how you scale a business.
So if you already have a podcast, do more interviews or change the formatting, or bring on a sponsor, a partner who will help promote on your behalf. If you already have a blog, then bring on guest bloggers and have them guest blog on your blog. Find ways to reach thousands of people in an outstanding way. There’s any number of ways to do that, but that’s the most important thing.
Mike: Yeah, and even if you start small, I’ll give an example. Many years ago, I started doing some little seminars at houses that I was rehabbing. Like, just come watch me rehab this house. We’re going to meet there three times. I called it RehabLive. I would invite my investor list, I promoted at some of the REIA clubs and we usually would have 30 or 40 people that would come three times.
We just bought the house and it’s disgusting. Don’t wear flip flops, come halfway through, then come at the end. If anything inside of real estate, and even all the trades that kind of serve us, general contractors, plumbers, foundation companies, roofers, it’s so easy to demonstrate what you do and people get value out of that. It’s an educational opportunity/entertainment opportunity and people remember that if you gave that value to them.
Joe: Yes, I think that’s fantastic. I love that idea.
Mike: All my ideas, Joe, are simply brilliant. I mean, I don’t know what else to say. And I’m so modest.
Joe: I was fortunate to come across you.
Mike: Well, hey, we are about out of time here. But any kind of final words that you want to share? Tell us how people can learn more about you, your podcast, or any other things that you are working on. Where they should go.
Joe: Final words would be-I’ll stay on topic and theme-and that is be true to who you are, go with what comes natural to you from a branding stand because that’s what you are most comfortable with, that’s who you are.
And if you’re a funny person, add humor. It doesn’t have to be a stuffy business, just enjoy it. If you are very serious and analytical, then make it a serious analytical business. Go with who you are. That’s my final advice to wrap it up.
And as far as how people can come into contact with me, well, as you mentioned, I got the podcast Best Real Estate Advice Ever show. Definitely check out the series with Patch of Land. One of my favorite companies, and if you don’t know about crowd funding, check out Patch of Land and Perfect for Flipping. You can go to my website too, Joefairless.com and say hi and I’m happy to do whatever I can to help you out.
Mike: Awesome, we’ll add links for all those things you just talked about down below the video here for those of you that listened and weren’t able to write them down. We’ll have them all below the video on FlipNerd.com and, Joe, thanks so much for joining us. Good to see you again my friend.
Joe: Thank you, Mike. I appreciate you having me.
Mike: Don’t get any speeding tickets. All right, we’ll talk to you soon. Thanks again.
Joe: All right, thanks a lot.
Mike: Thanks for joining us for today’s FlipNerd.com podcast. To watch or listen to more great shows visit FlipNerd.com or visit us in the iTunes store.
To access the most robust social platform in existence for real estate investors, where you can find off-market wholesale deals, great vendors literally in your market, and to socialize with other like-minded individuals, please visit, the one, the only, FlipNerd.com. If you are not yet a member, you can set-up a free account in about 30 seconds. It’s pretty much the coolest site that has ever existed in the real estate investing industry. So get on over to FlipNerd.com.
[Thanks for joining us for today’s FlipNerd.com podcast. To watch or listen to more great shows, please visit FlipNerd.com or visit us in the iTunes store.
To access the most robust social platform in existence for real estate investors where you can find off-market wholesale deals, great vendors literally in your market and to socialize with other like-minded individuals, please visit the one, the only FlipNerd.com. If you’re not yet a member you can set up a free account in about 30 seconds. It’s pretty much the coolest site that has ever existed in the real estate investing industry. So get on over to FlipNerd.com.