Making Money in Multifamily Real Estate Show

160 | Developing A Perfect Partnership with Jenny Gou and Steven Louie

September 15, 2021 Dave Morgia Season 1
Making Money in Multifamily Real Estate Show
160 | Developing A Perfect Partnership with Jenny Gou and Steven Louie
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Jenny and Steve's Background:

  • Jenny and Steve are the founders of Vertical Street Ventures where they have quickly scaled to over 1000 units under managements in less than one year
  • Jenny has a background as a Sales Director at Proctor and Gamble for over a decade and focuses on the investor relations and asset management side of the business
  • Steve has a background in business consulting and focuses on acquisitions and key strategic partnerships

In this episode we cover:

  •  04:08 - A thousand units in 7 months
  •  10:15 - Complementary and supplementary roles
  •  15:51 - How to structure your meetings
  •  21:46 - Being critical and encouraging
  •  26:05 - Honesty, honesty, honesty
  •  28:51 - 5KQ1 - If you could only pick one trait that explains your success, what is that trait and why?
  •  31:07 - 5KQ2 - What is the most uncharacteristic thing you've done in your business and why did you do it?
  •  34:06 - 5KQ3 - Can you name any time where you felt like you were not going to end up successful? How did you overcome that fear?
  •  38:03 - 5KQ4 - Can you name a time where something in your business went perfectly and what did you do to make that a reality?
  •  40:06 - 5KQ5 - What have you been focusing on lately to improve yourself or your business?

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Intro:

Welcome to the Making Money in Multifamily Show, where we discuss everything to do with multifamily real estate investing. We believe it's the best way to gain financial freedom and build lasting wealth. This is where you'll find it the best information and practices to help you succeed in your real estate business, whether you're already experienced or just starting out. Here's your host, Dave Morgia.

Dave Morgia:

Hello listener and welcome to the show. I am your host, Dave Morgia. With me today, we have a tandem podcast and it's Jenny Gou and Steven Louie. Jenny, and Steve welcome to the show.

Jenny Gou:

Thanks for having us, Dave.

Steven Louie:

Thanks for having us, Dave.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah, I'm sure we're going to have just an amazing show. We kind of alluded to maybe what we'll dabble into on the show, but before we get there, I just wanted to let the listener a little bit more about you guys. Jenny and Steve are the managing partners and founders of Vertical Street Ventures. This company was founded, I guess, what a little over a year ago. Between the two of them, Jenny currently oversees SM management and investor relations, kind of focuses on the business strategy and execution of the plans at the site level. Then Steve more focuses on acquisitions, sourcing capital and more of the strategic partnerships. Basically, close those deals. I guess, so those guys maybe we'll start with Jenny. Do you just want to kind of introduce yourself a little bit further in who you are and what you focus on?

Jenny Gou:

Yeah, absolutely. I started my career in sales. I worked for a company called Procter and Gamble for 13 years. Meanwhile, during that time, my husband and I wanted to find more passive income. We started investing like many of your listeners, I'm sure single family homes. Then once we accumulated at about 10 units in the Midwest, we thought, there's got to be a way to scale faster and bigger. We learned about multifamily and immediately fell in love with the model made total sense to us. To the point where I actually quit my job in February of 2020, believe it or not. Right before the pandemic struck and started to pursuing multifamily full-time. That's what I've been doing the last call it 18, 19 months. Analyzing deals, finding properties and working with Steve who was formerly my mentor and now my partner and we formed vertical street ventures. Actually, just seven months ago earlier this year. We feel like we've been around for a while, just given how much we've grown and scaled so quickly. But yeah, seven months in and we're banging out a few deals already this year. Looking forward to do more.

Dave Morgia:

That's amazing. Steve how about your turn?

Steven Louie:

Yeah, no, absolutely. Thanks Dave, for having us on. I'm a formerly corporate America guy. So W2 wage earner for pretty much all my life, started as a group underwriter on the healthcare side and then graduated all the way up to get a corner office. I was blessed enough to actually kind of take that entire corporate path and that was all in the insurance and the consulting side. About halfway through my career, my CPA and financial planner actually mentioned to me that a real estate might be a great avenue for me to take advantage of some tax breaks that potentially are out there if you follow them. At that point I started in the single-family arena, got about 10 of those, including duplexes and fourplexes under my belt. Then shortly thereafter, about four years ago, I went to a mentoring group in Texas and double down on multifamily really found that you could scale up from single family to multifamily. It was really a pretty much a game changer. Like Jenny said, at the end of 2020, I was able to exit my corporate career. Pretty much retire and then just focus on multifamily acquisitions and with a great partnership with Jenny here. We have a lot of great complimentary skill sets as well that helped us to source these deals as well as asset management collectively together.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah. I think in a nutshell, just to be clear for the listener, a thousand units in seven months is not the status quo, very abnormal, very impressive. I don't want to attribute it and put a pin on what makes you guys succeed. But to me it seems like the relationship that you two have in the partnership. In this case, a little bit of mentorship, right. Can we just kind of dive into what that relationship that you two have looks like and what has really helped you guys just to accelerate through so quickly into the success?

Jenny Gou:

Sure. Yeah. My husband actually met Steve first. He was speaking at one of these multifamily meetups in Southern California. My husband attended, loved what he had to say and, made his way to the front of the room after Steve was done with his pitch. They got to know each other, brought me in a couple of weeks later and we just hit it off. I always tell my husband I'm like, everything happens for a reason. Because right around that same time, I decided to leave my job. Put my notice in, and I said I would love to go find someone to shadow for lack of a better word. Steve said, well, look, no further come shadow for me. He let me, manage some of his properties in Arizona at the time. He was still working full time. It was really actually a win-win situation where he could offload some of that apartment work to me. then I could learn firsthand and shadow him. Meanwhile, we're underwriting deals left and right at the same time. There's a lot of things going on, but that's how the mentorship came to be. And quite frankly, I tell all the folks, who are starting out in the business today, that is probably the number one thing you should probably go look for. One, learn the basics of course, but you can accelerate just tenfold, if you can find yourself a mentor who's willing to take you under his or her wing. That will just accelerate your learning so much faster.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah. I mean, and you hear this a lot. You have to add value your partners, but I don't always get the opportunity to interview both the person who's adding the value originally, who may be less experienced than, than the person who had the experience, who needs that value add. I got to go to Steve and just kind of ask it and don't be too shy with the conversation. But what was it kind of that tenacity and that willpower and the kind of curiosity that led you to believe that she was kind of a good fit for your team?

Steven Louie:

Yeah. You know, fortunately I've had a great career in corporate America. I led a lot of different individuals. Right from the beginning, first meeting her husband and her husband telling me, oh Jenny's much better than myself. Then connecting with her and just realizing the ability that she has to really execute on the task. Collectively, we come up with visions together, but I have a lot of ideas sometimes 20 of them all at once. She does a really good job of saying, okay, what are the three to five that are very important? Then from those three to five, we start executing on the first three. It really helps me. It kind of calms me down in terms of all the things that need to happen and, and really just been a blessing to have her as a part of a team. Really just her skillset is super complimentary. We both come from a pretty strong corporate sales background. We both can play that angle. I was formerly in the finance area too, but have leaned much more towards the sales and the leadership piece too. I think the skills between the two of us are amazing, which has allowed us the opportunity to really thrive in this marketplace in Phoenix here.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah and I guess just still a little bit more of you, Steve. You mentioned that the, both of you kind of have that sales experience, which isn't always the case with a partner, especially if we talk about complimentary, right. Sometimes you hear like kind of the more introverted numbers guy who does the underwriting and then maybe the more extroverted kind of broker relations, investor relations, etc. It doesn't sound like that's the case with you guys. A what are the complimentary skills exactly? Kind of down to the details, maybe more. And B who's kind of handling more of that less social aspects of the business for you? Is that hired out at this point? Or how do you guys handle maybe the more desk work?

Steven Louie:

Right now like Jenny said, we just started about seven months ago and we're expanding pretty quickly. To start with the entire team, we have hired on an underwriter and as Jenny says this underwriter happened to be a retired rocket scientist. Being a retired rocket scientist.

Dave Morgia:

This isn’t rocket science

Steven Louie:

We always say that. But he goes, yeah, it definitely isn't. It's really just an Excel spreadsheet, right? He's really the science behind a lot of the underwriting work. Then there's the art piece. Then both Jenny and can kind of compliment that in terms of him. In terms of, hey, he can get those things kind of banged out in about two hours, an hour in terms of some of the underwriting. Then we've kind of put the art to it. Where do we need to kind of tweak some of those numbers to get to fulfill our business plan? From that standpoint, we work really well together with Randy, and then in terms of myself and Jenny, I do lean a little bit more towards maybe the relationships and building that network out there. But Jenny can actually do that as well. Then at the same time, Jenny leans a little bit more towards the asset management piece. All of the detail, the weekly meetings that she does every single week with the property managers and going through every single property, everything down to all the leases. All the way through tenant appreciation to sell and then working very closely with the property manager. I do sit on some of those calls. I can do that property management piece. That's the great thing about our partnership. We can probably reverse roles and still be extremely successful. When she has to take time off for the family, or I do, we can kind of fill in the gaps because they're both pretty strong across the board.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah and that to me, it's really interesting cause you don't always see that where you can trade off roles like that where it's kind of complimentary, but also supplementary. It's just interesting to kind of hear your guys' take on it. I guess as long as you're hitting the right channels, right the right avenues, you can almost not quite 10X, your 2X-ing it, I guess. But you can almost kind of double up on the efforts and hire out like you did with the underwriting say to be able to go where you're weak. Really interesting to hear. Jenny, is there anything he kind of missed as far as how you see the roles playing out? I guess if not, what are you kind of love to do that maybe Steve doesn't like that you kind of pick up the pieces then?

Jenny Gou:

Yeah, I think that's probably the key. Steve mentioned we have very similar backgrounds in the sales industry. But what we try to do is, okay, well, that's good. We're both good at certain things, but what do we really enjoy doing and we're good at. Steve is really good at, he loves communicating. He loves networking with folks and building relationships. He focuses more on acquisitions meeting with brokers, working with the lenders. That makes a lot more sense. For me, I can do all of the above, but what I love doing is I love making things work. If I have problems, I love finding solutions. If there's something wrong with the property, I figure out how to make it work. That lends itself really well to asset management. It's a little bit more detail oriented but I'm very organized. I'm very structured. That's something that I really enjoy doing and I'm really good at. That's where we're good at stuff, but what also do we like to do? Because at the end of the day, we didn't retire from one industry and one career to go work at something we didn't enjoy. That was really important for us to figure out quickly and then operationalize.

Dave Morgia:

No, I mean, that makes a ton of sense. You both have over a decade long careers and you want to enjoy the day to day and not just get through the day to day. Finding the little channels to really dive into is what it's about. I guess almost in a way, I mean, it kind of happens at least with my partners. Sometimes I will get too involved in a certain avenue or vice versa. My partner will only kind of stick in his little wheelhouse and not really get outside of that house. How do you guys kind of pull each other out of your little bubbles, if you will, to kind of get back into communicating.

Jenny Gou:

The last word is what is key it's communication. You know, you have to obviously agree on certain things to make things happen and make things work. But there has to also be a healthy level of tension for bigger things to happen. Steve and I, we are very open with each other. We talk, I think, five times a day, at least, every day. But if something is off or if we don't agree on something, we will have to typically hash it out quickly. There's typically a third way of doing something. It's not my way or Steve's way, but we find the best way or the better way to find a solution. That eliminates anything big that might come up in the future. Communication is probably the number one biggest thing to avoid any issues between partners.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah I think that obviously, if you guys are expanding at the rate that you are, you have to be expert communication at this point. To me, it probably has to be more than just verbal communications. There has to be some structure to this, right, where you guys are executing, kind of programmatically and at least some census. I'm sure conversations have to be had, but at some sense, you have to kind of put some type of system in place. Steve, do you want to just kind of highlight maybe what you guys are doing to make sure you're staying on task?

Steven Louie:

You know, the one thing that Jenny had mentioned is her ability to execute. She actually put together roles for everybody in our company. Which is super crucial. This is a role responsibility, and then what the expectations are. Then by doing that in lining that up for every single person, we know how to pretty much stay in our lane too. At the end of the day I don't have this. In the past I would want to go over because I was doing everything I'd want to step into the asset management, give my input, but now I don't need to. I know that Jenny has the capabilities and can get us there and I don't have to actually end up here. That's actually sped up the process of meeting with our property manager once a week. It used to be an hour long meeting. Now it's a much more efficient half hour meeting and the property manager appreciates that as well. Just one example of Jenny's organizational skills, which is much, much greater than probably mine on that side of the fence.

Jenny Gou:

Yeah and one of the things I'll add to Dave. We have weekly Monday morning meetings. We outline, we have an agenda every week. We take notes, we capture next steps so that we all know what our priorities are for the week. What are we working on? Should something happen and I need to step away for a day or two or Steve needs to walk away for a day. Like we all are still rowing in the same direction. Nobody's confused about what should be happening that week. That's super important for us to do. That's on top of the four other phone calls I have with Steve a day. But that Monday morning meeting is one, we check in, we say, how are you doing? How was your weekend? Because we are big on culture as well. But then we also get down to business real quick to get things done.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah. I guess Jenny, I just wanted to pick on you for a little bit longer as you're more, maybe I'll say detail oriented. Let's talk about, you say coming out of those meetings, you have some tasks coming out of it. I'm sure they're assigned to certain people. What is the next step? Does it get put into some type of CRM or test management system? I'd really love to get granular as far as your guys' process?

Jenny Gou:

Right now we use a super fancy tool called Excel. Just to document our weekly meetings. I'm sure there's something even ultra fancier out there that we haven't looked into yet. But for right now, whatever works for you. Don't make it complicated. For us, we use Google, we use the Google office platform. So Google sheets works fine. We tracked out the comments, the dates and gates the owners, and then we know what the next steps are, and what the progress is. That again, holds people accountable. I'm going to do the same thing with our property managers every week for each of our properties. The task? Who's the owner, deadline and progress. They go in the sheets and they never have to question what I'm going to ask them every single week as well. Again, whatever works for you, write it down, technology is probably better in this day and age, but find a system that works for you and your team and just stick with it.

Dave Morgia:

Then I guess more following up on tests and being almost accountable to what ultimately was agreed upon. Is it more property dependent you handle? Then if it's more of a high level business aspect that Steve handles? How does that kind of shake out for you guys as far as like roles of actually being the kind of almost RP of the RP, if that makes sense?

Jenny Gou:

This is what Steve mentioned earlier. We have created a very concrete, clear roles and responsibility documents. Everyone has their own page and outlines exactly what kind of the, three to five buckets of work are. If anything is related to let's say, following up with the broker or talking to the lender about the current loan, I mean that's in Steve's wheelhouse and if anything's, property related and I have other buckets of work, just the besides asset management. But we all raised capital. For example, there's reaching out to a certain investor or, scheduling a meetup or a podcast, for example. We each take turns and delegate accordingly. It varies, but for the most part, we're very clear on who owns what bucket, so the next steps are very simple.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah. I guess this, one's more for Steve kind of going to the flip side of that. Not getting down to the nitty-gritty, but staying kind of more future vision of the company and those types of conversations. Of course, Jenny's involved. But how do you kind of navigate those waters when talking to your external business partners and what may be the expectations you could set for yourself realistically? I mean, sure. You got to be ambitious too but to put some type of weight to what is feasible and I guess, how do you navigate, what the next step is for you guys as a whole?

Steven Louie:

Corporate teaches you a lot. Corporate taught us how to set goals and follow through with those goals. Being in different leadership roles, we always have expectations of individuals. Each of us have certain expectations. We want to be at X X dollar amount by the first six months. Then pretty much me being a goal-driven individual, I will make sure that that happens by that timeframe or will exceed that. I think it's having that kind of built in sales DNA or acumen there that is innate in me to know that we have to hit this number. We have to have another property closed in order for us to hit those goals. We also meet weekly, but we also do a monthly meeting live. We do a live meeting together. We whiteboard everything. Everything that needs to be cleared out for that month what's working well, what's not working well. Then really aligning all of the resources appropriately to make sure that happens. I think preparation is key. By being extremely prepared around that and having an agenda. These are just kind of basic one-on-one I guess you could call it one-on-one sales that, every Monday we would have a meeting and we have to go through and be ready to present of where we are relative to our goals. As we're almost doing the same thing in our organization here on a mini scale from that perspective, just because we've been trained in that capacity, that we do have to meet those expectations or else our job is on the line, so to speak. Less so today our job is not on the line. We're actually enjoying the acquisition of the multifamily so much.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah. I wanted to so you mentioned the weekly meetings, but then the monthly meetings. Would you consider that more of a retro or retrospective format or what is kind of the pace for that meeting as far as accomplishing what you intend to do on that call?

Steven Louie:

It's a great reflection of what happened the past month. Hey, what were the great wins and where could we have improved in some of those particular areas? Then we are visionary. Everybody puts it on the board, so it's almost like a brainstorming dump. What are we going to do for the next month? Then how are we going to accomplish what that is. Then at that point, the great thing is Jenny is super organized, and she'll still take everything from that whiteboard, and it's assigned to each of us. Each of the particular individuals on what we have to follow up with. That kind of just leads right into our monthly meetings. Then we meet live again every quarter, excuse me, every month on that.

Dave Morgia:

I guess how, cause we do a similar approach where you look back on your performance and kind of do the pluses and minuses. I just like to hear people's takes on this. Maybe I'll just kick it to Jenny to make it fair. How do you kind of balance alerting of the negatives versus the positives and not getting too caught on one side of that coin, because if you get too negative, you can kind of almost defeat some emotions for some of the team, but if you kind of don't critique yourself enough, you're not really going to improve as fast as you like. How do you balance that?

Jenny Gou:

That's a great question. We do two things. One is the positivity sandwich. This is great for your work partner. It's good for your spouse, your kids. But you start out with something positive. Then you insert the opportunity in the middle and then you wrap it back up with another positive comment. Then that way it doesn't come across as, hey, you're doing something wrong. It's more about, hey, thank you for doing something well. Here's an area that could be improved. Then you end it with something positive. Now the other thing is, when you offer up an issue or concern, what we always encourage our team to do is what are the potential solutions? Don't come complaining, don't come with a problem. I'm just a problem I should say, but always come with a potential solution or idea that could help solve it. Because it's better to make it more productive and not be just a complaining session. We want to make sure we're coming out with next steps and actions to fix it. Those are two really important things we try to make sure we solve for when we talk about reflections and then improvement areas.

Dave Morgia:

I think you nailed it the way you first posed it was as an opportunity. It should be ultimately a positive cause you can kind of correct what needs correcting. Like you say, if it's, solution-oriented, it's not just someone kind of riffing off of their emotions or whatever. If you took some time to think about what it is that needs to be improved or is bothering you, but it could be fixed, there's probably a right way to do it then. To offer an opportunity, like you said, I think was the best way to put it. It's better than kind of pinning it negatively. Really interesting to hear that. How, how much more do you I guess get into say you come across a monthly meeting where maybe there is some things that might be bothering you more than usual. Is that kind of something where maybe say there's not enough meat in the sandwich, I guess you could call it. How do you kind of navigate where you have some maybe more pressing concerns and you want to make sure that you hit all the metrics and all of the kind of directives for the meeting?

Jenny Gou:

In this example let's say, we can't solve for something that day. It's always okay to take a step back and say, Hey, let's just table it for now. We don't have the right solution yet. let's meet again next week or the week after, sleep on it. It's okay to not be able to solve something right away. Maybe you need a little bit more time to flush through more solutions or more ideas. Just be okay with that. But yeah, I consider ourselves a start-up, so we're very fluid. We're running with multiple hats and so, we try to be as flexible with each other and with ourselves as much as we can because some days might go perfect because some days might not. We have to just remember to take it easy on ourselves and just be grateful for where we are, but, those meetings are a great way for us to stay grounded, reflect, build on our team culture, because we love to have fun as well, and remember that it's just numbers. We're not doing brain surgery or rocket science.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah. I guess kind of fighting those fires, like you said. It kind of leans back more to me, I guess, the directives and objectives you give everyone outlined and kind of the roles in the company. Steve, is that about right? It's really down to, if the roles are pretty kind of delineated and concise. It's not that hard to figure out in the heat of the moment who is taking care of what?

Steven Louie:

I think you also have to be brutally honest with individuals too. I think being in a sales background, you have pretty thick skin too. I mean, at the end of the day, Jenny can tell me, yeah, tell me straight up. It's not going to hurt my feelings or anything like that. In between, as you're growing a team, you do have to follow through with some of the things that Jenny just talked about. But I mean when we have discussions we're pretty open and candid about it. We don't want to beat around the bush about what needs to happen. We all know that the end goal is to get to whatever the point B is for your organization. Then if I'm not doing something that's not helping us grow, then she's pretty openly honest about it and vice versa. I think having that open communication really helps the organization grow. You can't take things too personally. I mean, that's kind of why we're both not in corporate America right now, where we want to try to grow our company, grow our business into the next level and kind of keep some of the political things out of that. We do have processes in place and that's all there to help improve what we're doing today.

Dave Morgia:

I can't I guess explain enough how it seems to me that you guys just A love what you do and B are good doing it. I think that's the one-two punch that all partners need with each other. A and then B externally kind of that's who you want to align with, ultimately. Whether you're investing or actually actively partnering with. To see you two kind of just dealing in your own little realms in the business and the communication, right? Like you said, it all goes back to the communication. If you can just be, upfront, not brutally honest, but when the time comes, you need to properly convey an idea or an opinion, just get that done and move forward with decision-making. It sounds like you guys have nailed that art between the two of you. Really congratulate you two on that.

Steven Louie:

It's okay to vent and complain. I think we all need to get it out. Let's vent and complain, and you can do that for as long as it takes you. But at the end of the day, like Jenny said, let's come to the table with a solution. We can complain about the CRM not working or those things, but let's figure out a solution that's going to help both of us get to that next stage. Vent it all out and then take that next step and then drive towards a solution.

Dave Morgia:

We're still people, not robots. As much as we would like to be super hyper efficient, sometimes stuff just bothers you. I guess guys, maybe we'll just ease into these five key questions. The whole conversation is really around kind of mentality and soft skills, which I think you can't understate enough. But we'll just kind of hit these and maybe we'll start with Jenny for the first one, and see if you can kind of follow after that. But Jenny, if you could only pick one trait that explains your success, what is that trait and why?

Jenny Gou:

Oh gosh, I would say, and I've talked to a lot of other folks who have done this longer than myself and even newer folks. But I would say the number one trait would be sales. This is the people that's first and foremost, you're dealing with lenders, brokers, property managers, even your residents. You don't work with them directly as a syndicator, but they're people first. T\he ability to sell somebody on an idea build on a relationship find investors, etc. The ability that comes with that skillset I think is very conducive to being successful in this industry and all the people that I see that are good at what they do. You think about all the big names, Rod Khleif, Grant Cardone, like all these guys, what do they have in common? They can sell you on any idea and make you believe it's your own idea. That skillset I think, has made our trajectory that much deeper and that much faster.

Dave Morgia:

I absolutely love that. Being able to sell an idea. What do you have a pen or something that you can write a term paper, whether whatever you have the need at the moment. That's the key right there. Steve, do you want to take that same question? If you could only pick one trait?

Steven Louie:

Yeah. I think it compliments sales, which would be, a great sales team is integrity. You'd have to have that integrity to do the right thing all the time. Sometimes that's difficult in a business where it's an unfair business. There's a lot of people that relationships are built and we lose business because of a certain reason. We always have to stand up on our lack of integrity. That is something that you have to do when you're out in the sales area as well. That's one of the probably key traits that I hold to the highest standard out there for myself, as well as my entire team.

Dave Morgia:

I guess we'll just stick with you for the next one. What is the most uncharacteristic thing you have done in your business and why did you do it?

Steven Louie:

That's a really good question. Jenny, why don't you take that one?

Dave Morgia:

For the two of you, I've heard it both ways. I've heard it where it's uncharacteristic to yourself or to other businesses. Whether you want to take it personally or externally.

Jenny Gou:

I would say for me it was hard in my old world at working at P and G in managing managed a business. I managed sales strategies for billion-dollar brands. I was used to delegating a lot of work out because there was just so much to do. Now that I'm a entrepreneur, I am somewhat of a perfectionist. I'm super organized, because this is your baby. Your business is now your baby that you birthed out and you want it to be perfect. It has been harder for me to want to delegate out because I want it to be perfect. I want it to be the best that it can be. Steve's has been doing a good job of like telling me, you got to let that go. I just read that book who not how. All it talks about is who can do the work for you, not how you can do it yourself. I'm trying to be better. It's truly uncharacteristic of me to want to hold everything and touch every aspect of the business myself. That's what I've had to try to unlearn, is just to let go and let other people who are way better at doing it than I am, like building a website. I tried to build our website. Oh my gosh, it was horrible. We outsourced it. Those are the kind of examples that I would say proves that point.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah. It's amazing to hear you kind of flip the script for your own. I mean, it makes sense on your own business, that you want to hold it near and dear, but yeah. To relearn those skills is probably going to be really beneficial to you. I guess we'll flip back to Steve for the same question.

Steven Louie:

Yeah. Mine is I played a much more of a leadership revisionary role in the past. As I became more of an entrepreneur, I've had to get into a little bit more of the detail idea. It's almost the opposite. It's kind of interesting. Before in corporate America, you have somebody doing everything for you, whether that's potentially even reading some of your emails. How to just change different settings within the computer. Some of those things I've had to kind of relearn to ensure that they're getting done and I can get into the detail, but just takes me a little bit longer than Jenny does. That's probably something that I've kind of stepped back into a little bit more detail than I probably was when I was in some of the corporate roles that I've kind of transformed into.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah. Maybe we'll be better off with the back-to-back for this time around Steve, but can you name a time where you felt like you were not going to end up successful and how did you overcome that fear?

Steven Louie:

Yeah, well, from a success standpoint I thought about this. Most of the time I've always been successful across the board. I think one of the things and a lot of this discussion goes back to business development and sales. Anybody that has had had a successful career in sales or business development, doesn't have too many failures across the board. Did I lose some of the accounts that I didn't want to lose? Absolutely. One of the key things that I really try to do is have more highs than lows out there. In sales, there's a lot of highs and lows. Whether it's acquisition of a property or selling of a product. You just want to keep those highs a little bit more than the lows, and then you're going to be always on a positive outlook. I try not to look back. I can remember distinctly when I was in corporate, the sales that I didn't get, and I did everything I could to make sure that we had the appropriate touch points moving forward so that wouldn't happen.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah. It's having bigger highs than the lows too. The magnification, the scale of those is huge too, and it'll keep you tumbling forward.

Steven Louie:

Yeah, one of the things I always say also say is, hey there's a lot of real estate to go around. Just because we think, oh, there's only one multifamily unit, in this area, there's actually multiple. I mean, you can just go drive down the street and how many different apartment complexes are there. That's the opportunity that's there, if you do lose out on one, that's down the street. There's another opportunity that's kind of waiting for you. Just got to figure out what the appropriate business plan is to acquire it.

Dave Morgia:

Could not agree more. Then Jenny, the same question. One time you feared failure.

Jenny Gou:

You know, I think whether it was my old job or this new industry there's, I think there has to be certain level of fear of failure because otherwise, how are you going to continue to stretch yourself and aim for something big? I always experienced some level of fear or I don't know if even fear is the right word, but hesitancy like, oh my, are we going to get that deal? Are we going to be able to raise rents? Or are we going to get all the investors that we need for the down payment? The way I overcome it really is, my why. Why am I doing what I'm doing now. For me, it's specifically for my family. With that always in the back of your mind, it doesn't matter how, you should just always shoot for the moon. Regardless of what that fear is, and it maybe, if you do fail, it's okay. As long as you learned from it and pivot and do better. Like, for example, we just lost out on a few deals on some properties here in Arizona, even some in Texas. it is a bummer. Nobody likes to lose. Everyone's coming in second when you lose the deal. But the point is, there, is well, what did I learn from it? Well, is it because I didn't build enough of a good relationship with the broker? Was I too conservative on my underwriting? Did I miss somebody in the offer? Is it something in the offer package? As long as you focus on what went wrong and how do you fix it, then hopefully there's a little bit less fear next time when you shoot for something.

Dave Morgia:

Again, going back to probably your sales background, but spinning it as an opportunity like we talked about on the retros, right? If you spin it as a learning opportunity, it is taken a lot better in the heart. It's hard to swallow those pills sometimes. Even if it's a minor thing, sometimes it just gets to you, but you kind of take the positive spin on it and it'll help a little bit for next time. Then pretty much, Jenny flip to that one. Can you name a time where something in your business went perfectly and what did you do to make that a reality?

Jenny Gou:

I will tell you nothing has ever happened too perfectly ever. If it has for somebody else kudos, because that's amazing. But I feel like, what I've experienced so far in this industry, nothing has ever gone perfectly. Every single loan we've completed has butted up to the exact closing date at the 11th hour. It's amazing how that happens, but it does every single time. Things that you underwrite for and you do due diligence on you never expected, well that guess what things happen. Nothing ever happens perfectly. I think the way we mitigate major issues is the planning stage. Did we underwrite just conservative enough to plan for things to break? Did we push in just enough in the loan terms to make sure we had the right underwriting? Those types of things, as long as you plan for it, I think it helps you mitigate anything that could potentially be disastrous. But again, nothing has ever gotten perfect, but nothing has ever gone horribly wrong either because we've planned for it.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah. Then Steve, same question.

Steven Louie:

Yeah. I think we all strive for perfection. Like Jenny said, there isn't anything perfect, but striving for that is probably one of the most important things. I think you can use an example of doing your first deal. That first deal, there's a lot of lumps in it. That second deal becomes that much easier. The third deal, it becomes almost perfect. Nothing is perfect, but I think just each stage that you take and then as we got to the sixth and seventh deal it becomes a lot easier not perfection, but that's how we make it reality in trying to get there. That's kind of where I'm coming from.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah. It's always tougher to get the train kind of out of the station. Once you get the wheels turning a little bit, a little bit of momentum helps everybody. For sure. Then Steve, last one here, what have you been focusing on lately to improve yourself or your business?

Steven Louie:

One of the things that I try to do more is read. I should say it's a combination of things. It's the miracle morning really establishing that. In the past, I used to get up at 4:30 in the morning and drive into work and got in by 6:30. Now I still get up about the same time, but I do the things that are kind of important to me. One being exercise. I'm writing things down. I have some silence out there and then I affirmation of the things that are possible for me today. Then it just revised me across the board.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah. Super, super powerful. If you haven't tried the miracle morning, go give that a read. It's a very light one. Or you can at least kind of read up on it online. It's definitely recommended. Then Jenny, I guess, same question to you.

Jenny Gou:

Yeah. We're huge on investing in ourselves. All of everything Steve mentioned but then also, recently invested in another mastermind group. I love that I can continue to learn. One of the things that a mastermind provides is obviously the network, but also extensive coaching. Steve was one of my first mentors, in this industry, but there's a lot of other folks out there that I want to learn more from. Joining the types of mastermind groups help you again, accelerate your learning, but then the networking piece is so critical to expanding the business. I hope to find a lot of value coming out of that as well.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah, mentorship masterminds. Some people have the mentality it's too much to pay for. I won't say all are good, but if you find the right mentorship group, it will pay, 10X, 20X, a 100X for your business, or even for personal growth and what you'll achieve, like you said, you're just aligning yourself. It's like that whole be the dumbest person or align yourself with the closest five people. That's who you'll be. It's all about just aligning yourself, constantly immersing yourself with those right people. Being able to continue. That is a ton of fun. I'm sure.

Jenny Gou:

Yeah. I've changed my thought process. Before I used to say, I want to hang out and learn from and be around like-minded people. Somebody recently said something different that really resonated. I can't remember who it was, but they said, don't hang out with like-minded people hang out with people you want to learn from. I think that helped shape kind of like who your five people could be, but then also these types of mastermind groups where I'm sure most of them are like-minded because they obviously joined as well. But hopefully there's a lot of people there you can actually learn from and grow.

Dave Morgia:

Yeah, absolutely. Like you say, if you're almost at the top of your class, if you will, in the room, you don't want to be the smartest person in the room as they say. Kind of be the one reaching for the stars wherever you are, and you'll eventually kind of pull yourself up. I really agree with you there. I guess just thank the both of you for the stock today. We got super into, I guess, soft skills and kind of how to navigate a business and communicate with one another and just exceed on both. I guess, the technical side, but really more of, kind of the execution side, where you have to really figure out what it is important to you to be able to move forward. Before we sign off, guys, you just want to kind of let the listener, know how they could reach you today.

Jenny Gou:

You can find both Steve and I we're on social media. Our website is www.verticalstreetventures.com. Our contact information is on there. Feel free to reach out and get a hold of us.

Dave Morgia:

Awesome. Thank you guys so much for the talk today.

Jenny Gou:

Yeah. Thanks for having us take care.

Dave:

Thank you for listening. This has been the Making Money in Multifamily Podcast. If you have any questions, comments, or would just like to connect, please feel free to check out the show notes for how you can connect or visit longviewacquisitions.com

A thousand units in 7 months
Complementary and supplementary roles
How to structure your meetings
Being critical and encouraging
Honesty, honesty, honesty
5KQ1 - If you could only pick one trait that explains your success, what is that trait and why?
5KQ2 - What is the most uncharacteristic thing you've done in your business and why did you do it?
5KQ3 - Can you name any time where you felt like you were not going to end up successful? How did you overcome that fear?
5KQ4 - Can you name a time where something in your business went perfectly and what did you do to make that a reality?
5KQ5 - What have you been focusing on lately to improve yourself or your business?