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Steve Jackson: Rebounding From A Near Death Experience, Bankruptcy & The Crash

We are here with an incredibly special guest, a friend of mine going back many years now.

He is a real estate investor that has seen it all and he is also the creator of VirtualInvestorPLUS, a real estate investment management system and software. He is the proud papa, metaphorically speaking, to a new startup called Steve Jackson & Associates.

My guest is none other than Steve Jackson.

We're going to cover a lot. We're going to talk a lot about rebounding from bankruptcy. We're also going to talk about the crash and we start the show with a near-death experience and how that can put things into perspective.

We're going to get into what to look for in real estate, whether you want to get into rentals or flips. We're going to talk about systemizing your business so ultimately you can do the things that you want to do, not the things necessary that you have to do. That comes from a system and the right mindset.

We talk about something brand new and exciting.

That is what it means to equip people that are on your team or the people that you work with versus managing them. With that said, we are covering the gamut. Let's get to it.

Dustin
Steve, you're eighteen years old. You're living in a small little town. You're coming back from college, you're on a high because you're thinking, “I'm going to play football in college.” You're riding in the back of the truck and the driver is going 55 miles an hour. The car in front of you turns right in front of the truck. What happens next?
Steve
What happens next is I hear my brother cuss. I was looking out into the field, enjoying the sunset, watching the cattle. I had my hand on the door, the window was down. I was in the front seat with him and another friend of mine, he was in the middle. We went to go past him and then I heard my brother cussed. I looked and saw what he was cussing about. The next thing I know was I went into the windshield and that's all I remembered. Other people explained to me what happened was the truck ended up going on the front of it and then it flipped over and slid with me underneath it. Some people came upon the accident and started helping us out of the vehicle and they rushed me off to the hospital in the ambulance.
Dustin
Did anyone die?
Steve
The guy that hit us did.
Dustin
How was it for you? What were the injuries?
Steve
I split my skull open, tore a part of my right arm off, put a bunch of glass through my neck and my chest and messed up my back. My football career was over before it even got started.
Dustin
Was there even enough time to think that you were going to die?
Steve
All I heard was him cussing, I turned, my head hit the windshield and I was out.
Dustin
You wake up at the hospital. What do you know at that point?
Steve
I couldn't even see out of my right eye because my head was split wide open. I'm in a lot of pain and when I saw my mom and dad sitting there looking at me crying, it was hard.
Dustin
It's crazy because I'm sitting across from you right now and you would never know. You pointed at your elbow, your arm and I wouldn't have known. I've known you forever and I didn't know the severity. If you were to tell that story and ask what happened, you would think many people died in your truck.
Steve
Unfortunately, the gentleman that hit us died. My brother ended up having his knees hyperextended backwards. When the truck was getting ready to go over the top, his feet were stuck on the floor, his knees went into the steering wheel and it went folded the other direction. I ended up getting the worst of it. They said I was legally dead for a little while and I did have an NDE, near-death experience, which was amazing. Honestly, it was hard to come back from it because it was peaceful, calm and had a lot of warmth. You feel a lot of love and it was exciting. I heard the ambulance getting closer and closer from the little town of Eskridge, Kansas out there where we were brought up. The closer that ambulance got, the closer I came to being conscious and woke up and then saw my brother crying over the top of me and saying he was sorry. I passed out at that point and then that's when they got me in the ambulance and ran me off to the hospital.
Dustin
Looking back over it all, life is short but what do you take away from that experience?
Steve
From that point forward, I realized that life is short and my life flew right in front of me quickly. From that day forward, I've always lived my life intentionally. I live life by design and plan your work and work your plan.
Dustin
I want to fast forward a little bit. You recovered from this. You have a wake-up call to live intentionally. You decided to go to the corporate world and you forged a career. However, that's not where we end up because now you have a rather large portfolio of real estate properties. You've done many things which we'll talk about. I want to talk about what that pivotal moment was. We have people that tune in to the show. They go corporate. They have this dream. You work with them now. They're burnt out but they live in this fear. What prompted you to say, “I'm going to do it. I'm going to be my own source of income and rev?”
Steve
I was working as a consultant, as a software architect. I was wearing a suit and tie every day, working downtown Tampa on the 33rd floor at the city center or the other city building down there. I ended up realizing that I didn't want to be the system anymore. If my hands were not coding or working, I wasn't getting paid. I knew that I wanted to live a different life and be able to travel and do things when I wanted to do them. I wanted to not always have to work. That got me started to read books about becoming an entrepreneur. One of them was by Robert Kiyosaki, Retire Young Retire Rich, which was a great book. That one convinced me that I needed to go out and create my own business.
These are some of the things that we're teaching young entrepreneurs and other burnout business professionals that may or may not know this stuff. Basically, there are three ways to make money. There's passive income, portfolio income and earned income. Earned income was what I was working for which is the highest taxed income there is. You're 50% or maybe now 60% partners with the government. I wanted to go after the other types of income, which comes from portfolio income, which is stocks, bonds, mutual funds and whatnot. You have your passive income, which comes from building businesses and real estate. I like to build things. I went into building my own IT company, information technology company at first. That's when I launched out on my own and it was my first company, Jackson Business Solutions.
Dustin
You’re building this business. What prompts you to get into real estate?
Steve
There's a quote in that book that says, “Once you make passive income a part of your life, your life will change.” The first check that I received from my first rental when I went to the post office to get my mail, that was an a-ha moment of, “I want more of this.” It's not just going there to get bills. I got something I can deposit.
Dustin
I love asking people about the first deal. It's like the first love of your life. What was that first deal? Was it this rental property? Was it a flip?
Steve
It was a flip in Clearwater. It was a house that we did and it was our first one. We made all kinds of mistakes, but the cool thing was even we’re making all those mistakes and it’s taken forever to get the rehab done, we still made money, which was nice. I went through a seminar and got paid for it.
Dustin
You said to me many hours, days, weeks before this. You and your wife got quite a portfolio. You say you're not a real estate guy, but your wife Carol is the passionate one. How do you amass such a large portfolio? How do you do stuff on a day-to-day and not necessarily be passionate about it? Is it that the flame has flickered for you? Maybe it was more exciting in the beginning or has it always been that way? How do you arrive at where you're at without having a fire?
Steve
For me, it comes down to how I like building things and creating things out of nothing. Structuring a deal and putting that all together and being able to take a house that we call a turd and turned it into a diamond is fun. That part I like taking something that people can't see it but I can, then the end product is awesome. More importantly though, what I like is the passive income. It's creating large amounts of cash with very few employees and minimal headaches.
Dustin
Talk to me because we're jumping around a little bit. We're talking about your creativity. You’re taking a turd and turn it into a diamond. We're talking about rehabs, which is generally, you're going to flip something. You're going to put some work into it and you're going to flip it and make some short-term revenue, which is nice because it's sometimes a big check versus now a rental, which is passive. How do you look at a deal? How do you take down a deal and decide what you're going after and where you're putting your time?
Steve
We have three different programs. Anything in my area, the markets are different as supposed to have it in California. Some of the prices I've been seeing and the amount for rent is mind-blowing compared to Florida or Tampa Bay market. The rental properties, if we can make them cashflow at least $250 a month, which most of ours are cashflowing at least $500 per house, which is good with having debt service on it. It'd be more if you didn't have the debt service. We try to keep our rental properties under $100,000, $150,000 after repaired value. We have three different programs. We usually keep our rentals under $100,000. We'll keep them as a rental. Anything between $100,000 to $300,000 is our bread and butter, which we fix it, flip it and sell it at retail. One program that I love the most is my luxury home campaign, which is $300,000 up to $1 million in our Tampa Bay area where we live. That's what I like doing. Those houses take longer to complete as far as the rehab and to sell them. Also, they require a jumbo loan, which causes a lot of people not to be able to afford those types of loans.
Dustin
It’s a smaller niche market.
Steve
It's definitely less competition but it has taken over a year to sometimes eighteen months to sell these houses, which is too long. We usually were in and out of a house within 4 to 6 months when I'm fixing and flipping them. The ones that we keep as rentals, we try to keep 10% of them a year. We do 40 to 50 a year. I keep 4 to 5 of them a year and we've been doing that for many years. It's nice to finally have an empire of rental properties and the cashflow from it is amazing because it's passive and doesn't require my hands working all the time like I had to when I was a computer programmer.
Dustin
I like that word empire you said there. I give you some love on that. Other than money, which is most people’s common question, we've addressed that here on the show. If the deal is right, the money will show up. Aside from that, how do you find these deals?
Steve
The same way as everyone else does. A lot of people think I do something different, but the only thing I do differently is I actually do it.
Dustin
Are we talking direct mail?
Steve
We do direct mail. We are more online now. We have a lot of ads on Facebook and Google. We’re doing a lot of videos now, education-based marketing, helping people understand what we do and how we can help them. We’re educating them on the different options they have with us compared to listing it with a realtor.
Dustin
Are you doing this more organically, meaning you're putting content out to the world or are you paying to promote?
Steve
I pay a company to help us do it right now. This is something we've been doing for the last few months. In my area, the Baby Boomers are getting older and doing offline marketing. I was in the yellow book, which is like a phone book. I was in a little subdivision newspaper like little local community papers. What I noticed especially in the last few years was those leads have slowly but surely died. Usually, when people are calling me with those marketing campaigns, they're older. They're 65, 75, 80 years old. I was getting fewer and fewer of those calls. We had to switch to do more stuff online. We are heavier on online marketing now than we are offline.
Dustin
I was waiting for when that was going to come. I didn't know that was already here. You're starting to experience that.
Steve
We typically have 8 to 10 different lead sources. Our campaign is going at any given time. We still do direct mail. We do postcards and letters. We do driving for dollars, driving down the neighborhoods and see certain houses that look abandoned, vacant, the grass is overgrown or newspapers are building up on the driveway. We still do that stuff too.
Dustin
Do you get out of the car and knock on the door? A lot of people have a lot of fear around that. I remember doing that back in the day when we were hanging out. It was a little nerve-wracking the first time I did it.
Steve
I wrote a book, DoorKnockingSecretsRevealed.com is out there now for people if they are seriously interested in doing that. Nowadays, I don't know if that many people want to do it. I still do it myself, but you get 1 or 2 a year from that. That's not going to keep you afloat very long if that's all you do. We do 8 to 10 different lead campaigns and a lot of them are offline stuff. A lot of them also now is online with websites and using different companies out there to help us generate leads on Facebook and things like that.
Dustin
You work with your wife and I always find that interesting. A lot of people have this question. Are there any tips or strategies of how do you work together? Were there systems that you created? What have you learned in working with a spouse?
Steve
The biggest thing that you have to do working with your wife is to compartmentalize. I've been working with her for many years now. She has gotten a lot better at that. We work out of our house. We've got a nice office in the back of the house and a separate entrance and whatnot. Once we leave the office and walk through the door, back into our home, we got to compartmentalize what we were doing for work. We don't bring it back into our house and do our best not to do that. We're both passionate and strong-minded and sometimes we get in some heated conversations at work, but then once we get into the house, it's not as easy for her as for me. I compartmentalize that and she's like, “How do you do that? I can't do that.” I say, “You need to work on it because otherwise, I'm not sure how much longer we'll be able to work together.” That would be the biggest thing. The other thing too is you have to have systems in place and we have definitely separate roles. I take care of acquisitions, lining up financing, funding and managing the rehabs. She takes care of managing the rentals and selling them.
Dustin
I want to talk about your software because I know you get excited about that. That was your early love, then you got into real estate. That's how we know each other. In your path, you decided to build a software for real estate investors to help them get their time back and to automate, to bring your world tech into real estate. You got the taste of the passive income and real estate. Even though you had this amazing background in tech, why did you choose to now start another business and maybe deviate a little bit from being full-time into real estate?
Steve
Many people were asking me to make that for them. I created it for our company to help us manage and market our business, to work more efficiently and productively. I was at an event called the Big Seminar in Atlanta years ago, Armand Morin, I think his name was. A guy saw me smiling and I was on my old Blackberry phone. He came up to me like, “What are you so happy about?” I said, “I'm here at this Big Seminar event learning internet marketing and I made $10,000.” He goes, “Sitting right there?” I'm like, “Right here on my phone.” He’s like, “Show me.”
I showed him my software from my phone because I wanted to be able to do anything I needed to do from anywhere. Whether it was in Tampa, Tahiti or Tacoma, Washington, it doesn't matter. I want to have access to my business. He said, “I got a guy out in California that would be very interested in that.” He hooked us up with a meeting and they flew me out there. He bought $50,000 worth of licensing through a software program. I still didn't have made it to the public yet. We ended up spinning that off out of our real estate company and created VirtualInvestorPLUS. That system was made available to other investors that wanted to do the business like we were doing.
Dustin
You're in real estate. You know the passive nature and the benefits of that. You do your first sale and you get $50,000 in licenses and you bring on more customers. You have a considerable software background and you were getting real estate background. What surprised you in building that software business?
Steve
It's a lot of work.
Dustin
Isn't any software a lot of work?
Steve
That's true. It constantly changes too, so you’ve got to constantly be upgrading it. That was one of the things I learned about that business. It's a lot of maintenance, the development of a software program and maintaining it because things change so quickly, and technology changes so quickly. I want to take a step back there as far as your question about me creating that company. It all started from that book, Retire Young Retire Rich. I told you there are three ways to make money and that was passive income, which comes from building businesses or buying real estate. I like building things and instead of me building something that was a physical, tangible object, I did it in a digital way, which is cool. That's one thing I've learned about myself over the years, it’s that I like building things. I like starting something and getting it built and then passing it on to somebody else to take over from there.
Dustin
I find it fascinating because of Kiyosaki’s book, Retire Young Retire Rich. Often it’s Rich Dad Poor Dad. That's the thing that got me to foreclosures daily and how we met. That's the first time I've heard of one attributing it to that book versus Rich Dad Poor Dad.
Steve
That was the first book I bought of his and that taught me a lot. There are a lot of those lessons that now I'm passing forward to young entrepreneurs and other adults that are interested in stepping out on their own two feet and starting their own company.
Dustin
Here you are, you're successful in real estate. You're building a portfolio. You've got a software. You're following the blueprint of the book and yet the market turns on you. You're in the middle of a sale. You are living the book. That's what I appreciate about you. You follow the system. You make things sound easy. However, this next part is not so easy. You're in the middle of a sale and the market turns. What happens and how did you recover? You're going for your first sale of this business.
Steve
I build it to sell it. It was around 2005 and 2006, that time frame. That's when the economy wasn't doing well. Real estate wasn't doing well and everything was not in a good situation for any of us. I was in the process of selling that company to another company in the Tampa Bay area. Unfortunately, they were impacted by the economy as well. The sale went through. It was in the process of them buying me out and then I ended up happening to take my company back. When I did that, I had a lot of debt that came back to me that they were taking care of at the same time. The real estate was going in the tank, so I had to start over. I had to file bankruptcy.
Dustin
What was that like?
Steve
It was tough. My wife and I depleted everything. I depleted my savings. I depleted my 401(k) that I had when I was in the corporate world, all my retirement funds. I didn't want to give up because honestly, this is the third startup company that I've created. It gets pretty scary and dark before you come out the other side and you made it. It's three feet from gold and you don't ever give up. Every company I've ever done, even though they're smaller companies, this one was the largest that I had ever created. I'm like, “I've been here before.” This is the third time. It always gets pretty scary, like the calm before the storm. Unfortunately, with all those other variables and factors, I had to draw a line in the sand because my wife and I were having a hard time and fighting more. The funds and financing weren't abundant at that time. We drew a line in the sand and we agreed that by a certain date if we couldn't pull this out, we'd have to do it. A lot of people call it a badge of honor but then I read another book by Robert Kiyosaki. He said that most entrepreneurs go bankrupt at least 3 to 5 times. I'm like, “I don't want to do it even once.”
Dustin
You've got some catching up to do, myself included. Essentially, you lose it all, your portfolio, bank account, your retirement.
Steve
I had to buy my own clothes and my silverware back and it sucks. One thing that they couldn't take from me was the skills and the knowledge that I learned and that learning model of being able to start over. That's what we did. We had to start over from scratch. My goal was to retire at a time I was 45 and honestly, I was 38 at the time when I reached that. I could have retired from selling that business and then I happened to start over and I'm 50 now. Back to that point, it took roughly 10 to 12 years to get back there.
Dustin
What's going through your head? What's your advice for people that maybe are in this situation right now or about to or maybe they're coming on the other side of that? How do you pick yourself up mentally and where did you go? Did you say, “Real estate is viable, but I just got tripped up?” Did you say, “Maybe I should go back and get a job?”
Steve
I almost did have to go back and get a job, but luckily, I scored a big deal. It's like one of 100 deals that you make six figures on one pop. That was a lifesaver and it was an older lady that sold me the house and she didn't have to. Somehow, I was able to convince her to work with me. It had to do with me being transparent with her and explaining to her, “If you try to do this on your own, these are the things that are going to happen. You're going to call these contractors. They're going to maybe show up or maybe not show up. They'll show up and then never send you a bid.” All this stuff happened to her. She called me back and I went to her house and worked out a deal with her. I think she was paying it forward. I think she also liked my dimples.
Dustin
They are killer dimples for those that can't see it. Your background is amazing, which is setting you up for what you're up to now. You've been through the gamut. You've done what books tell you to do and had success. There was a correction. This is life. You've not just been on the good times. You've experienced the bad times. That's perfect to set you up for what you're doing now at Steve Jackson & Associates. Tell people what your vision is now for the rest of your life and how you arrived at this.
Steve
I've arrived at this point going through my own process of learning and acquiring these skills and everyone does it differently. It's one way of getting to financial freedom. With all the different things that I've done and all the different books that I've read in addition to the Robert Kiyosaki book, The E-Myth, Michael Gerber, which is great, that's how I built my franchise blueprint for my companies. Honestly, that's how I did it. I followed that book and I was using those books as my mentors because at that point, I couldn't afford to pay a mentor or a coach, which is very important. I have a coach now and I can pay for them now. I can afford it but if not, the book can be your mentor.
That's what I did. It ended up leading me to this point where all these little things that I learned over the years, I've cataloged these things and I've kept notes of things that helped me. I wasn't sure why I was keeping track of all this stuff all these years, but now that I'm here, it makes sense. I've been going back through my personal journal of notes of all these a-ha moments I had throughout creating all these different startup companies and all the lessons I've learned. I want to share it with other people that are like me. I want to build my own tribe of people and help them leave their job if they want to start a new business.
I want to work with young entrepreneurs or burnt-out business professionals that are at an age or a point in their life where now they're clear on what it is that they want to do or their giftedness. They don't know how to take it out of their head and manifest it into a real object like a business in a box. I can help them do that. Also, not only that, I can help them market it and sell it online through digital products or do it at live events. What I'm doing now with Steve Jackson & Associates is teaching people how I did it. We have two cool new products that we have. One is for youth that's called Life Skills and the other one is called the Jackson Method, which is for the adults. We're excited about it.
Dustin
We've been very aligned from the beginning, which is why we keep coming in and out of each other's lives over many years, especially here with what you're doing. You're talking with kids. That's something that we do here at WealthFit. You're paying it forward. You're talking about personal finance, financial education and literacy. That's where we're very aligned. I'm curious as to how you're going to go about it. What do you think is a fundamental place for whether it's kids or burnt-out professionals? Where do you think it starts?
Steve
Mindset. You’ve got to get your mind right. That's number one because if you're not open to growing and learning and you're not dedicated to doing it a different way, it doesn't matter if I teach you how to build a business blueprint or how to market or how to sell. You've got to get your mind right and believe that you can do this. Also, you've got to think differently because what you've been doing up to this point wasn't working.
Dustin
That's a great point. What do you do personally to get your mind right and make sure that it's in a great place?
Steve
I try to always stay positive and I read a lot of different books. I don't read anymore. I listen through Audible or some online book service. As far as mindset stuff, understanding the differences between employees, self-employed, business owners, investors, the tax advantages of each one of those, learning about how to equip people instead of managing them. I do a lot of the John Maxwell stuff too. I learned a lot from him as far as equipping people and finding out what their core beliefs are and equip them based upon what's important to them. It’s the different things to focus on as far as getting your mind right. I try to listen to something motivational every day and reflect on what works and what doesn't and do more of what works.
Dustin
I'm with you on that. I agree that mindset is mission-critical. In your quest to impart your knowledge, mindset being one of them, what's that next area that is critical? If I'm working on my mind, where else do I need to look if I want to have freedom in my life?
Steve
If you can focus on what you're passionate about, then it's not work. In my case it was, how did I do real estate when it's not what I'm 100% passionate about? My wife is totally passionate about the real estate business. The plan is she'll take it and run it. My daughter is on board now with us and she graduated from Florida State University. They're going to take over. My wife's excited about taking over the rehabs. My crew isn't, but I'm going to now do what I'm passionate about. My point is that sometimes you’ve got to do what you don't want to do to get to where you want to go. I knew that I needed to get a passive income in my life to be able to allow me to afford to provide for my family. I have peace of mind knowing that when I go out and take this new venture on, I didn't have to make money on day one to support my family. One of the things that I wanted to do was get that set up first and then now I can go out and do what I'm passionate about.
Dustin
There's stuff on social media and everyone's like, “Do what you love and the money will come.” There are things in life that we have to do. What I want to highlight here is that you found the areas in real estate that light you up like building and going out into the field and doing that. You were fortunate to have a partner. They had the other responsibility. That's key for people if they do have a partner or if they can focus on one area of something that they may not find all that great. Odds are there’s something in a field or in an endeavor that you can do that will light you up behind a bigger mission.
Steve
That’s correct, there is. That was something that I had to find in real estate because there are many different ways you can do real estate like in commercial or residential. In the residential market or residential investing, you can buy notes, you can loan money, you can do bankruptcy, foreclosures, probate. My specialty is working directly with the homeowners. It is where my lane is. It stemmed from when I was a kid mowing lawns and helping all the elderly people in my hometown that have a population of 300. I was used to sitting there, listening to them, talking to them and having them share their stories with me. I would mow their lawns, wash their cars or do whatever I had to do to make some extra money.
Fast forward now into the real estate business, I'm sitting there talking to these homeowners that are Baby Boomers. They're downsizing or they're getting into an assisted living facility or something of that nature. We live in Florida, so there are a lot of elderly people there. My wife used to give me a hard time about spending 2 to 3 hours sitting there listening to their stories. I'm like, “They had a bunch of other investors there, but I am the one that ended up with the house.” They would mention that the other people would be there for five minutes and don’t even want to hear their stories or talk to them and it turned them off. I would sit there and wait for them to tell me all their stories and get to know them, then they liked me and trusted me and then I'd work a deal out with them.
Dustin
What spawned in my head when you were sharing that is some things don't translate on a balance sheet or in an Excel document. I could see your wife saying, “Three hours in the field? The average deal takes this,” but as you said, you got the deal. That's important too. There are some things you can't shortcut. Back to Steve Jackson & Associates, you're showing people to step into a different lifestyle by changing their mindset, changing their financial practices. What else is critical to this? Are you showing them real estate only? Are you primarily showing them how to build a business? Are you showing them stocks and bonds?
Steve
What I'm giving them is a model, a process to follow or a method to follow and then you can plug in whatever your passion is and whatever business it is that you want to create. Real estate is a good business to get into. Most people that I know that are in that business are millionaires if not billionaires. It is one of the best ways to provide for your family and to make a living. There are all kinds of advantages as far as tax strategies and things of that nature. That's one thing, but if they know exactly what they want to do, that would even be better. What I'm teaching them is get their mind right, build their blueprint and their foundation, all the areas of business, sales, marketing, all the infrastructure stuff, what kind of software, what kind of tools you're going to use, all that kind of stuff. Later on, as far as how to sell it and profit from it at the end of the day.
Dustin
One of the questions I meant to ask you about this, it parlays into what you're teaching. You have a passion for real estate in that it can provide passive income. There are tax advantages and tax benefits to it. One of the questions we get a lot at the Get WealthFit Show is, are you just only in real estate? How are you diversifying? What other things are you into beyond real estate? You own a business, we talked about that, but are you doing stocks? Are you doing gold? Are you doing other forms of investment?
Steve
Yes, I am. I was heavy in tech stocks back when I was in technology, IT. One thing I learned about the stock market is I thought long-term meant almost forever, but long-term I've learned is maybe a year or two. I didn't do too well the first round in the stock market. Now I'm smarter and wiser, but I do invest in stocks. Most of them are a very conservative index bond, things of that nature and also Home Depot. Businesses that I buy materials from to do my real estate is where I invest in the stock market. I do some of that. We do loans, I loan money. I do JVs, joint ventures with people too. We all fund the acquisition and the rehab costs, then we'll do a split at the end. We do hard money loans. That's pretty much all I do. I used to do a lot of different things, but now I'm trying to be more focused and stay in my lane. Anything that creates a passive income, I'm interested in.
Dustin
You're at a little bit of a crossroads right now because you've picked yourself up off the ground from the bankruptcy. You've got a passive income. Every time we've chatted, you are like, “I've listened to an audio and I'm going to go talk to this seller.” Life is good and you do have a mission and a cause that ignites you. It looks like you're about to build something again. How are you thinking about building this now with all of the experience you've had with startups in real estate?
Steve
I am going to focus more on what I call buying instead of building. For example my startups, I built everything from scratch. All the policies, procedures and checklists, I did it from the very beginning. Now what I would do is outsource and buy someone else's system. It’s like with WealthFit, you have a wonderful company here and you offer a lot of valuable services to people that I didn't even know about until now chatting with you. I'm definitely going to check into doing that as well. When it comes to what I'm good at, it took a long time to get clear on that. I'm so jealous with some people, they know right off the bat when they're a little bitty kid and they know they want to play the guitar or they sing or they dance and they just do that one thing.
I used to juggle a lot of different things because I was always worried that if I lost my job, what else would I do to make money? It took a long time to get focused and do just one thing. That was scary for me at that time. I promised my wife that that's all I would do. Once I reached a certain goal with that one thing, which is real estate and creating a rental portfolio, now I'm going to do a new thing, which is the Steve Jackson & Associates, working with young entrepreneurs and burnt-out business professionals. At this point, I'm going to do what I do best and then outsource or hire people to do the rest. I honestly am going to try to do the majority of it by outsourcing.
Dustin
I liked that a lot. I want to talk about the burnt-out business professionals because I can imagine some of them reading this. What is your advice for them? You were in that role and we talked about that a little bit, but I want to come back to them. Fear often in the security of a paycheck will hold people back. Do you believe they should burn the ship or do you think they should do a side hustle, maybe dabble in it and see if it has legs? Should they build that real estate and now it sounds complicated? Should they build that real estate portfolio so they have a little bit of a cushion?
Steve
It depends on the individual. Someone like myself, I look back at it and a lot of people think I'm crazy for leaving a high paying job, making $250,000 a year to go and do real estate full-time with a big mortgage payment, big car payments, three kids, private schools. I look back at it now and I'm like, “That was pretty ballsy,” but I was unstoppable and nothing could stop me. That's the attitude and the mindset you have to have. Going through bankruptcy and getting the crap beat out of me, not physically but financially and happened to start over, that was tough. I had to stand up and keep my chin up and go back out there and do it.
I had a learning model that was in my head that I could do it again, start over and follow the same system. I'm a system guy. I don't think I'm special. I follow steps and systems. I didn't invent anything new. I'm doing what I ask other people to do that sometimes have a hard time doing it. To answer your question, if they have some income coming in and they got the right mindset, they should go for it. If you've got other responsibilities and kids to take care of and bills to pay, then I've got this cool little diagram that has 24 slices in it. It's like a pizza with 24 slices and I have one for every day, Monday through Sunday.
One of the exercises that I have people do is they shade in the slices like, “I go to bed at 10:00 and I get up at 6:00. From 6:00 to 7:00, I eat breakfast, read the paper, watch TV or whatever,” then they go, “I'm working from 8:00 to 5:00.” They do that for every day of the week and it's a good visual aid to see where your time is being spent. I did this with my oldest son, especially when he was in college and he was like, “Dad I don't have time to get a job.” I said, “Let's go through this little exercise.” He got clear, he was spending 2 to 3 hours a day playing video games. He quickly said, “You're right. I didn't realize I was spending that much time with video games.”
It's a great exercise but all of us can get up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later or watch an hour less of TV. If we want to do something, you’ve got to be intentional about it. I live my life by design and I have been for years, but if you want to leave your job and do your own thing, you have to have discipline. You’ve got to be dedicated and you have to have a desire to do it. If you want it, you'll find a way. The safest way would be to stay with your job. Spend an hour or two hours a day like I used to do. I had my job where I worked 40 to 60 hours a week as an IT guy developing software. I would do my real estate business part-time. I would do it in the morning, and then I would do it in the evening, then I did it on the weekends. When everyone else was out partying and having fun, I was focused on getting out of my job, just above broke. At the end of the day, that's what you’ve got to do if you want it. If you do have the money to go out and start it from jump street, that would be the best way if you could do that.
Dustin
We spent time talking about burnt-out professionals, maybe the person that may have a kid or two. They have additional responsibilities. You gave your advice on that but you also serve another part of the market which is the youth. I want to make sure, is that young professional or is it kids and teenagers?
Steve
It's kids that are 15 years old to 19. A friend of mine that's getting involved with me with this new company brought up a good point. His son graduated from college and he's in the workforce now in a corporate job. He comes to his dad with questions on how to handle different office politics or, “How do I handle talking to my boss about a raise or how would you handle this situation with this employee that I don't get along with and we had some confrontation?” He said that there are a lot of those recently graduated college kids that had been in the corporate world for a year or two. They don't have anywhere to turn to ask questions. I'm like, “That's true. It's another area that we could help out.” I’ve increased the age from 15 to 23.
Dustin
That's quite a range especially where they are in life or the world, but for the burnt-out professional maybe with kids now to the fifteen-year-old or even somebody in the workforce, how's the advice different for them? What are you showing them to do?
Steve
As far as the younger kids versus the older kids?
Dustin
Versus the burnt-out professionals that have kids. They have responsibility. There's an element of freedom to a teenager/someone in their first or second year of corporate. There's that freedom so they can be a little riskier maybe. That's your advice. What is your advice to the younger generation that doesn't have as many responsibilities yet?
Steve
The kids that we're working with, they're unique. They're already entrepreneurs, but they just don't know it yet. My son, he's sixteen. He is going to school. He bought his own truck. I did a deal with him. I said, “You raise 50% of it, then I'll manage the other half.” He lifted his own truck and he works on his own truck. He works on 1932 Fords. He works at an automotive place in Tampa and he's only sixteen. He works there three days a week and goes to school too. He's in the engineering program at school. He's doing good and he's motivated. He doesn't want to go to college and I don't blame him. At the end of the day, it's for kids like that. They know they don't want to go to college.
They know what they want to do. They're clear on it. They just need some direction, some guidance and somebody that's already been there and done that. With those kids, we're going to be teaching them life skills like how to balance a checkbook. I doubt they've even balanced a checkbook, but how to read financial statements. What's the difference between a profit and loss and the balance sheet? I'm teaching them how to negotiate and how to analyze deals and stuff like that, basic life skills stuff.
Dustin
This has been fascinating. For people that want to keep tabs on you, maybe continue the conversation, where's the best place to find you online and find what you're up to these days?
Steve
They can go to our website. We have SteveJacksonAssociates.com. If they want to learn more about the Jackson method, they could go to TheJacksonMethod.com or email me at Steve@SteveJacksonAssociates.com.
Dustin
I want to say thank you big time. I appreciate you. You were very instrumental in my journey. You helped me in more ways than I could ever communicate to you by serving as inspiration, but also showing me an environment that was very sales-heavy. You showed me there is a different way to sell and carry yourself. I want to thank you big time for being an inspiration to many people in the world and showing that you can do business and real estate however you want to do it on your terms. I appreciate you paying it forward.
Steve
Thank you for that. That's awesome. I didn't know I made that big of an impact on you. That's true, you can do it differently. My biggest tip would be transparent, be yourself, be straightforward with people. I hear that a lot from the people I work with. They said, “Jackson, you're straightforward. You're transparent and you explained the process well. You set expectations upfront and there are no surprises.”
Dustin
I want to encourage people to check out Action Jackson at TheJacksonMethod.com or SteveJacksonAssociates.com. Steve, thanks for coming on the show.
Steve
Thank you.

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