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  • Financial Wellbeing Breakthrough Inspires Exciting Change For Successful Doctor Ronnie Shalev [EP138]
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January 31, 2023

Financial Wellbeing Breakthrough Inspires Exciting Change For Successful Doctor Ronnie Shalev [EP138]

Today we have Doctor Ronnie Shalev on the show! Have you been trading your time for money, yet still feel like it's never enough? Dr. Ronnie Shalev was stuck in the same quandary too! She had invested many years studying and helping others with their health as an ER doctor, but found she couldn't give her patients the attention they deserved. So, through her research and experience she shifted to helping people improve their financial wellbeing–without sacrificing precious quality time with them.

In this episode you will;

  • hear how Ronnie was spread thin and unable to spend the time she wanted to with each of her patients
  • how she realized she was trading her time for money and wanted to find another way
  • how she pivoted from helping other people's health to helping people with their financial wellbeing

Table of Contents:

Doctor Ronnie Salev’s Shift to Financial Wellbeing

Doctor Ronnie Salev’s Shift to Financial Wellbeing
Photographer: Maskmedicare Shop | Source: Unsplash

Darin: Ronnie Shalev lives in the Dallas area. She was an ER doctor that found a way to make money investing in multifamily real estate. She then shifted her focus from helping people with their health as an ER doctor to helping people with their financial wellbeing.

Ronnie and myself both belong to the same multifamily mentorship group in the Dallas area, the Brad Sumrok group. And at one of the marketing events, we ended up meeting and just exchanging info, and super, super nice. Then we ended up bumping into each other again down in the parking lot as we were leaving. So, her and her husband were just getting involved at that time. It was probably a few years ago. And so, I am interested in hearing what she's been up to and how she can help others through their journey as well.

So, with that, Ronnie, can you share a little bit with the listeners in terms of how many units and how many properties you're invested in?

Ronnie: Yes. So, I have a pretty large portfolio for LP and GP together. As LPs, we have about 3,800 doors. As GPs, we have around 1,330.

Darin: Around 1,330?

Ronnie: Around.

Darin: It sounds like it's pretty much on the spot.

Ronnie: Plus or minus one. Sometimes when there's a unit down or something like that, I don't count it.

Darin: Right. That's in a short period of time, too. So, when did you guys get involved that you started scaling up?

Discover How To Save Taxes and Build Wealth

ER Physician Turned Real Estate Investor

Ronnie: We've been doing real estate since 2014 in various asset classes, but we started small multifamily, primary owners in 2019. And then we started buying large multifamily in 2020. So, all of this has been really over a very short timeframe that we've just completely bought in to the apartment concept and just went all in.

Darin: Well, that's fantastic. And I think that can show other people that are listening that you can scale really fast in this business. So, maybe share a little bit about your background and why you got into the business, and then we can delve into more specifics.

Ronnie: Sure. So, I'm a board certified ER physician turned real estate investor. And many people ask me why I left medicine after 16 years. And really, the most vivid memory I have is I remember a shift where I was alone. I was the only doctor in the entire ER. I had no medical assistant, no scribe, no nurse practitioner, no other help. It was around 10:00 PM. I was treating two stroke patients at the same time.

And I had someone in respiratory distress with an asthma attack. I had a heart attack patient that I was treating. The waiting room was packed. There wasn't an empty chair. You could see really the pain and the frustration on everyone's faces, their families, the patients. And on top of it, there were several ambulances lined up waiting to get checked in. I looked up at that clock to see when my relief would come. Eight hours.

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Pushing the Limit

Darin: Eight hours. And there's nobody on call in that situation that if all of a sudden it's a really busy night that more people will all of a sudden be called in?

Ronnie: Nope. Just me. So, I was responsible for all of these people. The stress, I don't know if you can imagine the stress, but it was unbearable. You see, the administrators had cut the physician hours. At some point, there were multiple doctors working, but the administration decided to save money and they left only one doctor responsible for everyone who walked into the ER or was already there.

So, I had no other choice. I put my head down and I took care of everyone that night, and really at the expense of my own health. And I didn't eat, drink, or pee during that shift. I got home so exhausted that I collapsed on the bed, still wearing my scrubs, and slept the rest of the day. My family didn't understand why I was so tired. They didn't know I had taken care of over 50 very sick patients that night. I mean, how could they? It's really hard to fathom. But what else was I supposed to do?

Darin: The other thing is that as you're saying it, I'm kind of feeling bad because I'm thinking to myself. I've been in this situation where I'm sitting in that waiting room and I'm not a happy camper.

Set Up to Fail

Darin: I'm thinking of it from my perspective, from the patient's perspective. And maybe I'm there with a family member that's waiting to get in. I'm like, "Ah, this is crazy." And even if I put blame on the actual administration for the staffing levels, you can't help but be frustrated with the people that are there in front of you. So, in addition to having the stress of having to deal with all those people, by the time you see certain people, they're already frustrated, and they're glad to see you, but they're also not happy that it's taken so long.

Ronnie: Right. And what people don't understand is that it's not even the doctor's fault. There's not enough staff. There's an overwhelming amount of patients. Everybody wants to be seen quickly. But really, you're prioritized based on sickness. So, if you're not being seen quickly, then that means you're not dying.

But at some point, the psyche of the physician is, "Oh my God…" It kind of fluctuates. "Is everyone so sick?" To, "Why are you here at 3:00 in the morning with a paper cut or just a cough?" So, these type of stressful situations where you're immediately set up to fail, especially in terms of the patient experience. The patient's already mad, they're in pain, they're frustrated, they're scared, and here you are. Usually the families and the patients see you running around. They think you're ignoring them. If you take a sip of water, "Oh my God, she's taking a break. I'm sitting here and she's taking a break. How could she take a break?" So, there's the dehumanizing of the physician.

The Pivot Point

Darin: That's a good word. The dehumanizing. I think that that's the reality. So, you go through all that stress, and that stress helped you decide to do something different?

Ronnie: I came home from there, and I realized that I was a high-paid hourly worker. I was an hourly worker. I was just a high-paid hourly worker. And I was tied to my job. I was told by administrators who had no medical education how to practice medicine, how quickly to see patients. And, yes, they made sure to let me know if they didn't like my numbers I was replaceable. I started wondering why I loved the job in the first place.

Darin: And how many years of school did you have to go to get there? Right? What is it to become a doctor? 10 years?

Ronnie: Yes. It's four years of college, four years of medical school, and then three years of emergency medicine training.

Darin: So, 11 years.

Ronnie: 11 years. And then during those three as a resident, you're working over 80 hours a week, and you're getting paid. It ends up being $5 or $6 an hour. And that's the time where they train you. They dehumanize you, that you learn to walk around sleep deprived. You learn to walk around and not have eaten in 12 hours at all. You're just constantly working on adrenaline before you realize, "Oh my God, it's been 30 hours."

Darin: That night sounds like it was a pivot point for you.

Ronnie: It was. It was like, how do I get out? Is this what it is? I spent all these years and it's just the same. And it didn't matter what practice I went to.

Attain Financial Wellbeing Without Being at Work

Attain Financial Wellbeing Without Being at Work
Photographer: Dillon Shook | Source: Unsplash

Ronnie: I lived in New York, I lived in Philadelphia, I moved to Texas. It all became the same. It was always the same story. I wasn't making my own decisions. And I was being controlled by the administration. I was overworked, high stress, and really putting my health last, everyone else's health ahead of mine.

And my husband said, "Well, the only way we can do this is get you out. It’s by figuring out a way for you not to trade your time for money, not be an hourly worker." How can you work, how can you make money without being at work, without being at the hospital, without seeing patients? And basically, I was like, it's impossible. I don't know how to do that.

That was around the time when a friend came to us and said, "Hey, I've been investing in real estate. I own a piece of 100 7-Elevens, and I receive a check every quarter, and I don't do any work. It's called passive income." And I thought to myself, "This sounds like a pyramid scheme. This is weird. It's too good to be true. It sounds risky. I don't know. How do you not do any work and make money?" It sounded crazy.

Darin: Is it real, right? I mean, that's the question, right? Is it real? And is it phony? Is it a scam?

Ronnie: Yes. But I was frustrated enough with what was going on at the hospital, that this guy was driving a Lamborghini, and I said to my husband,

Let's try it. What do we have to lose? Because the losing is me continuing this way.

Letting Money Work for You

Ronnie: And I don't know if you know, but physicians have a higher risk of heart disease from the stress that we encounter during our careers. It's actually a cardiac risk factor.

Darin: Yes, I didn't know that. I've had a few physicians on, and they've educated me on the fact that doctors, they do spend a lot of time reading, but it's typically to better their practice and their knowledge in their practice. And they don't know how to manage the money that they're making. So, letting their money work for them. And that's kind of what you're talking about with investing in the 7-Elevens or in multifamily or something else passively. It's letting your money work for you.

Ronnie: Absolutely. And it's not something that is ever talked about. Where do you get financial education? Even when you're in college, you don't get financial education. If they're teaching you anything, they're teaching you to invest it in the stock market. So, until someone steps out of that and opens their mind up to alternative investments, to, "Hey, maybe what we've been taught might be wrong," only then do the doors swing open.

Darin: You're absolutely right. And I think that part of it, because we weren't educated, some of the terminology just turns people off because they don't understand it. Words like alternative investments, it's not really a difficult word, but it can scare people because they don't understand it.

Ronnie: Right. Alternative means like a deviation.

Darin: Alternative, private, whatever.

Making an Effort to Try Something New

Ronnie: Like a deviation, like scary. And we've been taught to save, save, save, put it in our retirement, and you'll be fine. Maybe buy some insurance. You're going to be set. And what I realize is that that's not going to happen. I'm not going to make it physically. I'll either have a heart attack or I'll have a nervous breakdown. Or something before I get to that point, and I need to figure something else out. Because there's a lot of people doing other things and they all seem happier than me. They all seem to have more freedom. They're not tied to a job. And that's what I was searching for.

Darin: That's attractive. And you're fortunate that you had a friend that said, "Hey, look, this is what I'm doing, and I'm having success at it." And so, you were able to learn from that person, and that kind of opened the door for you. Sometimes, you either read a book or somebody introduces you to something, an idea, a concept, go to a conference, whatever the case may be, and you may not take action right away. And it may take three or four or five people to introduce that seed to you. And then, all of a sudden, you're like, "You know what? I've heard this enough, I’m going to give it a go." And like you said, "What do I have to lose?"

Ronnie: Right.

It just depends on how strong is your pain that you're willing to jump to make an effort to try something new.

Realizing the Need to Change

Ronnie: If you're not in so much pain, if your stock portfolio is up 40%, why would you sell and go into real estate? But if you've lost a million dollars in the stock market, then you're like, "Whoa, this is something that might be something I need to change." So, it really is about how much pain are you experiencing, and at that time, I had so much pain.

Darin: And you understand pain from the standpoint of a medical, an ER doctor. People come in with pain, but it's physical pain versus financial pain.

Ronnie: Right. Stressful pain, like anxiety. Just the pain of, is this what my life is going to be? You spend all your time trying to be a doctor, whatever career. Like, okay, you're focused on that, getting in, passing the tests, learning to be the best doctor, and then it's like, "Oh my God, I'm going to be the person in charge soon. I better know every single thing because a person's life depends on it." And then, you get out, you're working. Then you're trying to live your life. When do you have the time for financial literacy?

Darin: No, it's interesting because if you come out and you're a doctor, without even knowing the person I would check off the person is a hard worker. The person is determined, the person is highly educated, the person is dependable, is trustworthy, the person wants to serve others. All those things, without even knowing anything about the person, the fact that they became a doctor kind of checks those boxes in my mind.

Choosing the Least Amount of Risk

Choosing the Least Amount of Risk
Photographer: janilson furtado | Source: Unsplash

Darin: And so, now you've done all that and then you're like, "Is this all there is?" So, now talk to us about the shift, the transition.

Ronnie: We started investing in these syndications, and we really just tried all of the different asset classes within commercial real estate. A lot of them.

Darin: Like what?

Ronnie: We've invested in triple net leasing, retail centers, industrial warehouse, RV parks, self-storage, assisted living, and even apartments. We were looking to try to understand the business model of each asset class, and then what did we like? And truthfully, I was looking for something less risky. What's the least amount of risk?

Darin: Less risky than what?

Ronnie: I don't know.

Darin: Out of all those asset classes, you were trying to find something that was the least amount of risk.

Ronnie: Yes. The least amount of risk. What can I go all in on? And really, housing is what I felt was the answer.

Darin: And that's how you ended up in apartments. So, you decide you want to get into apartments. You've invested in a lot of different deals. As a passive investor, what's your thought process now? You started doing all that in 2014. You've started doing small multifamily in 2019. So, in 2020, what are the decision points that you make in terms of, "Okay, I want to go all in on multifamily, how do I do it? These are the steps I'm going to take"?

10X Your Money in the Multifamily Space

Ronnie: Yes. So, 2020 was when the pandemic hit. And I was eight months into the pandemic when I said, I cannot do one more shift. I am just going to walk out, because whatever I had gone through, that one shift many, many years ago, it had been so many years of the same thing that I hung in there. I hung in there and I tried to make it work. And after the pandemic, when there weren't enough supplies, there weren't enough masks, I was given a trash bag and told, "Don't worry, just go into that room, and you can take care of that patient." I was like, no one cares about my health.

If that didn't solidify that no one cared about my health, I don't know what else would've. Right? I mean, COVID's still around, but eight months into it, 12 hours a day, where I'm in a respirator, multiple gowns, hats, goggles, I come home with imprints on my face, I said, "This is what it's going to be like from now on because COVID's not going away. I don't want this." I said, "I'm done." My husband's like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's look at our finances. And let's go from there. Let's look."

And we looked at our net worth and we looked at our liquidity and we looked at how much cash flow we were getting, and it was enough for me to leave. Really, we said, this is all working with the small multifamily, but how do we 10X it? That's when I jumped in to the multifamily space and I said, "Well, I can't do this on my own."

Success Leaves Clues

Ronnie: "I have to learn from the people that have already done it, because success leaves clues." I could figure it out. It'll take me five years. Why, when I can pay to have someone teach it to me? I'm all about education. I've been doing it my whole life. So, I don't fear asking for help, and I don't fear learning something new.

Darin: And you get to choose what you want to learn. When you're in college, when you're going through medical school, you're told, "This is what you have to learn. These are the tests you're going to take. These are the books you're going to read." But then when you get out, you have a choice. Like, hey, if you want to go a different direction, you can seek out people that have already done it and pay them to teach you how to do it.

Ronnie: Right. I've been just brainwashed to decide the only way that there's an education is if it has a university behind it. I was looking at MBA programs, am I going to get an MBA, am I going to get an MPH? I've got to do something else and get some sort of letter, because only then does it mean anything. And really, everybody that I talked to was like, "Okay, so you have MBA next to your name. Then what? You still don't have any job experience. You still don't know how to do anything." So, I said, "Then this isn't the right path for me."

That's when I started going to conferences and seminars and webinars. And in seeking out the experts, I don't need the letters behind my name. I want the practical experience.

Learning From Experienced People

Ronnie: I want someone to tell me what it's really like and I want to learn it not from a professor that doesn't do it. I want to learn it from people that are doing it. And that's where I found our mentor.

Darin: One of the things that blew me away was how many highly qualified people I met in that group that had done what I wanted to do. And so, rather than have to reinvent the wheel, how'd you do it? What legal counsel did you use? What property management companies do you use? All these questions that you have if you're trying to do it solo, and then you've got all these experienced people that you can tap into and say, "How'd you do it?" So, that's huge.

Ronnie: Right. And they've all been in different places than I was. I was fortunate enough to be educated already, to know how to work hard, and to have capital to start. So, that's where I had the big pieces behind me and I could just really jump all in. And that's kind of what my husband and I did.

Darin: So, you jump into a multifamily mentorship group, and you meet other people. This is one of the big questions I get from people all the time, is what value do I provide?How am I going to find partners that want to partner with me? So, how did you go about that?

Ronnie: Well, because my husband and I formed our company together, we're fortunate enough to do it together. So, we're two people for the price of one, and we have two different skillsets.

Play to Your Strengths to Gain Financial Wellbeing

Ronnie: My husband is an entrepreneur, has had multiple small businesses, he's got 20 years of construction experience. And he's one of those people that learns everything. He just loves to understand everything, and he can fix anything. So, that piece of it. And then I have my network. I have my work ethic.

I have the experience of the investing in other syndications to learn what investors like, because I know what I like and what I don't like. And I know that I want a certain level of communication. I know I want ACH distributions versus checks. I know what I want in someone to help me in that process and to be accessible to me.

So, when we formed our company, Shalwin Properties. I do the investor relations, I do the marketing, I do the strategy, I do the capital raising, I do the education of the investors. My husband, he has a lot of the relationships with the brokers. So, he finds the deals, he's able to walk the properties and really get an idea of what the CapEx will be before the LOI even goes out. Like, "Oh, this is going to need this and this and this." So, he's very good at relationships, underwriting. He loves forming the teams and doing the structure of the deal. So, we really bring a lot to the table. It took us a while to understand what we brought in, what we brought to the table.

The Proper Way to Make Connections

The Proper Way to Make Connections
Photographer: Constantin Wenning | Source: Unsplash

Darin: Look, it sounds like there's a lot there, and you've made it clear now. So, what was going on through your mind when you first got involved? Was it more mindset, like, "I haven't done it, so we don't have as much value to provide," or what was going on through your head? Because there are listeners that they're going for their first deal and they struggle with in their mind what value they can bring. How can they find a partner?

Ronnie: Yes. I think that really telling people directly the value you bring helped us. And we actually changed our strategy. In the beginning, we were looking for the deals ourselves and underwriting them ourselves, and we weren't getting a lot of traction. Because it was taking us a very long time to underwrite, and then none of the numbers kind of made sense. There wasn't that confidence piece. But then when we started connecting with other investors and saying, "Hey, we can do this, we can do this," Then we formed teams, and it was important.

The way that we broke into the industry, though, was through capital raising. And once they met us and they gave us a chance, they could see that we do what we say. We're there, we hold ourselves accountable. There's no chasing us to do various things. We're very organized. And slowly, we've branched out. We started as just co-GPs, and then now we're lead GPs, lead sponsors, and we have several deals, and we're just continuing on that journey.

Building a Network Through the Same Story

Darin: Fantastic. So, if you think about that guy in the Lamborghini, that friend of yours that introduced you to real estate, this is the path that everybody goes through. At first, you're just thinking about how can I get my first deal, how can I get involved. But now you're tapping into your network and you're introducing that concept to people that are connected to you that may never have been introduced to this world. So, who falls into your network? Is it mostly medical professionals? And is it people from going to college? Is it all of the above? People you've met along the way? Where are most of your connections coming from that are investing with you?

Ronnie: Believe it or not, it's burnt-out healthcare professionals. And the burnt out piece is significant, because I connect with that story. They connect with my story. Feeling trapped in your job.

Darin: I think that's important. Because, look, with this alternative investments, private syndications, whatever you want to call it, it's different than buying a stock. You go to your brokerage account and you put in Amazon and you hit a hundred shares and boom, you're done. But there's no real relationship, and you're hoping that the stock price is going to go up. But you connect with certain people that I'm not going to connect with. You have a story that connects with certain people that they can relate to. And so, you can build a network off of that. And for the listeners' benefit, every one of you have that same thing. You have a different network than Ronnie. You have a different network than me.

Helping Others Achieve Financial Wellbeing

Darin: And those people in the beginning, some of them may say, "You know what? I'm going to wait and see and watch." But once you're successful, they're like, "Hey, how'd you do that?" And all of a sudden you go from just building your own wealth to helping other people grow as well.

Ronnie: Yes, and that's what's really just making such an impact on my happiness level, because I'm getting to help. First of all, educate people that have never even heard of this. They don't know multifamily. What's multifamily, and what does that mean? They don't even know what that term is, let alone syndication.

But I get to impact, I get to help people with their financial wellbeing. And it's the wounded warriors in the healthcare field, that everyone's neglected them, that's who I get to help. And that just fills my bucket so much. It's very important to me, and I'm very passionate about it. For years, I helped people with their physical wellness, with their medical emergencies. I was there for them. And now I get to still do that. I get to still be there for them and offer guidance and support, but this time with finances. So, I'm super lucky that I can make an impact on people that are interested in this.

Darin: Yes. And look, I've found the same thing. There's two qualities to this. There's every deal that you're a part of, you build your family's wealth, but you also build the wealth of all the investors that are in the deal. But there's a second piece that's just the joy and the happiness of helping others.

Financial Wellbeing for Everyone

Darin: And for some people, they have different gifts and qualities that they can bring to this world and help others, and they're underutilized. And you may be just working and trading your time for money, and you're doing a good job for the company that you're working for, but you're not able to impact all the other people in your network. But then, all of a sudden, when you get involved with this, look, not everybody's going to be interested in it, and not everybody's going to have the capital to invest in these types of deals, but for the ones that are, you're able to help them. That's huge.

So, I understand the burnt-out healthcare professionals. I think there's a lot of high net-worth individuals out there, people that make good money, and maybe they like what they do, but they don't know what to do with that money once they make it. So, I've heard stories about doctors who live paycheck to paycheck. They're high-income earners, but they put it all into homes and cars and vacations. They don't really know how to pull money out and put it aside and have that money work for them. So, talk about not just medical professionals, but just high-income earners and how something like this can help them build wealth.

Ronnie: The tax benefits specifically for apartments is significant. And a lot of high net-worth individuals don't think about the taxes. I used to glaze over when I would hear, "Oh, taxes." In the beginning, people would say cost segregation study, and I would be in a zone. Now I'm fired up. I'm excited. I'm reading tax books.

Knowledge Goes a Long Way

Knowledge Goes a Long Way
Photographer: Patrick Tomasso | Source: Unsplash

Darin: Why are you excited?

Ronnie: Because it's not what you make, it's what you keep. And really, a lot of our wealth acceleration has been the tax benefits because I'm taking what I would've paid to the government and putting it in another investment. Buying another asset, getting more just cash flow, and learning that I feel like changed my life. And that's not limited to doctors. That's not limited to anyone, high net worth individuals.

Darin: Absolutely. So, being surrounded by other people in this network, they didn't only teach me how to buy a multifamily deal, but they also taught me the tax benefits of doing so. The different vehicles you can use to invest, and a lot of different aspects of financial health that you can learn from other people that are fully legal, but we just weren't educated on it.

Ronnie: Right. And I wasn't interested in it, honestly. It wasn't something that I was interested in. And being around people that talk about it and talk about their wealth and talk about their strategies, you learn how important it is. Then it started becoming interesting to me. Now I'm sharing my knowledge with other people. And I think it's something that is not talked about enough in the financial education, financial literacy, tax planning, tax strategies. There's a deficit in how much people talk about it.

Darin: I would say even the financial space altogether. I think before I got involved with being around real estate investors, it's like a taboo subject. You don't ask somebody how much you make or what your income is or what your net worth is or any of those things.

Knowing Your Assets and Liabilities

Darin: It's like, how dare you poke the hole in me? But, when you get into this world, when you're forming teams, people ask those questions really quick, and then if it meets their needs and they form a team, if not, then they move on to other people pretty quick. But you realize that they're talking about something that they can actually have an impact on. If you don't talk about it, how are you going to change it?

Ronnie: Right. And if you don't measure it, you won't know it. So, a lot of people don't know. It's very interesting how a lot of people don't know how to calculate net worth. Even the high net worth individuals, or the high earners. They can't be high net worth if they don't know how to calculate net worth, right?

Darin: So, what is net worth? For somebody that's listening right now, how would you define net worth?

Ronnie: I would say, assets minus liabilities. But people don't know what an asset is. They don't know what a liability is. Those basic terminology is important. It's very important.

Darin: Absolutely. There's a lot of high income earners that buy a lot of liabilities and put debt on it. And so, that's not improving their net worth.

Ronnie: Right.

Darin: Buy assets that are going to appreciate, buy assets that are going to have cash flow. I've had people that have said they're unhappy with, especially last year, with gas prices were going up. I was like, you know what? I don't like paying more at the pump either, but I was glad that I owned ExxonMobil stock.

Using Debt Strategically for Financial Wellbeing

Darin: So, I was paying more at the pump, but my stock was appreciating. And it's the same thing with multifamily. If you're renting, I don't like that my rents are going up, but hey, if you invested in multifamily assets, your assets are appreciating. And that's way above and beyond the increase in rent that you're paying.

Ronnie: Right.

It's really all about perspective and your mindset, and how you see things and how you frame things. And a lot of it didn't come to me until later in life. I was told to save and don't have debt. Now I'm opposite. I used debt strategically to buy assets.

Darin: But you use debt to buy assets that are cash flowing versus using debt to buy clothes or go on vacation.

Ronnie: If I had a choice, am I going to re-plaster my pool, or am I going to buy an asset with, let's say, a home equity line of credit? I'm going to buy an asset. So, that's the difference.

Darin: The other big mindset shift that I had with getting involved with other people was, and this goes to our training beforehand, financial training, was just like, it was all about building up a big nest egg so that when you retire you can pull from that nest egg. So, how much do I need to retire? You're going to build up this big mound of money, and then when you retire, you're going to start pulling from it. Then I had somebody tell me, "How much do you want to pull from that?" Mentally, that was just hard thinking about, I don't really want to see it go down.

Maintaining Financial Wellbeing

Darin: So, what happens, most people feel that way. They don't want to see it go down dramatically. So, they're going to live really, really frugally to pull down as little as possible out of that big nest egg. Versus what other real estate investors educated me on was instead of looking at it like that, buy assets that provide cash flow. Then all that cash flow, if that more than pays for your living expenses, your lifestyle, then you've already done it. I'm like, holy cow, that makes a world of difference. Then your assets keep appreciating, your cash flow keeps going up, and your lifestyle's paid for. So, that's when you get the freedom.

Ronnie: But I had a financial person ask me, "Do you want to live at the lifestyle you're at now when you're 70, or do you want to not eat out, not travel?" And I was like, "No, I want the lifestyle that I want." Then you can't get that with what you're doing now. And I see it.

I see it in my elderly patients that are very worried about what they're going to do when social security stops. Or, oh my gosh, I wrote them a prescription for a medicine that, really, they can't afford, but maybe they need it. And I am very conscious of that because we just don't do enough education, financial education. We get to the point when we're in our sixties, seventies, and this whole population, this whole silver tsunami now, in addition to having health problems and all kinds of things, now they have to worry, do they have enough money to eat? So, that breaks my heart.

Take the Helm

Take the Helm
Photographer: Joseph Barrientos | Source: Unsplash

Darin: Yes, absolutely. And fear and the unknown I think prevents people from getting involved in a lot of different things. But, because this is a relationship business, you, me, everybody else that's involved that we keep telling people to get involved, little by little we're chipping away and bringing other people into the fold where they can earn more money and have a different net worth building opportunity than just putting their money in the stock market.

I asked somebody who's very wealthy. I said, "Do you know anybody that has become wealthy from saving from a W2 paycheck?" And he thought about it, and he was like, "I don't know one person." Strong, large wealth building has come from real estate, or it's come from building your own business. Or it's come from being in a tech company and getting a ton of stock options. But just by putting 10, 20% of your savings away every month and then putting that into the stock market, he said, "I don't know one person."

Ronnie: Right. And that's the biggest myth. People think like, "Oh, I'll be fine putting it in the stock market." No. It's up and down. It's up and down.

Darin: I was there, and shame on me because I believed it, and I put my 10, 20% away, and then I wasn't accountable to it anymore.

I felt like once I put it off to the side, it was supposed to just grow like magic. But we're all accountable for our own money. And so, you need to be accountable.

Being Open Minded Create Opportunities and Financial Wellbeing

Darin: For the listeners' benefit, you need to be accountable for all the assets you have in your retirement plans, in your savings accounts, in your home equity. Wherever you have capital opportunities, you are responsible. And if you want to grow it, then you have to learn about different opportunities.

Ronnie: Right. And you can't be fixed in your ways that you've been taught. You have to be open to new ways of thinking and new opportunities. That's the only thing that's going to open you to new opportunities.

Darin: And it's scary at first, but when you get around a lot of other people, because the question everybody has is the same: is it real? You had it, I had it. So, sometimes it takes just one person to tell you, "Yes, it's real. Here's my experience." Other people, they need to hear from five, 10, 20 people. Whatever your number is, go out and meet them. Because in our experience, it is real.

So, now you guys have been managing. We've talked a lot about just financial health. You guys have been managing deals now. What are some of the learning lessons you've learned? Both as a co-sponsor and as a lead sponsor, what are some learning lessons that you've learned?

Ronnie: I think knowing the difference. The marketing of the property I think is huge. We have an amazing property and an amazing location, but the occupancy was down. It's like, how could this possibly be happening? So, really digging in to the marketing piece.

Darin: How do you solve that?

Identifying the Problem for Financial Wellbeing

Ronnie: Well, we dug and dug and dug, and realized that the property management company was failing us, and really learning how they were failing us. What were they doing? They were not holding themselves accountable, not looking at the analytics. And we switched property management companies, and this property is turning around. But I think that one of the big learnings is to move faster. And I'm an ER doctor, I'm ready to move fast. That's probably good and bad.

But the other partners, getting alignment within your team is highly important. And working with other people that are at different speeds is challenging. And that's kind of where you have to also understand when you're forming your team, how quickly do people respond? You've got to take action.

And some might say that my action is too fast. And some people might say we didn't take action soon enough. I think in retrospect, we could have changed property management companies sooner. I think everybody's kind of in agreement with that. But there was a lot of promises, like, no, we're pre-leased, we're this, we're that, it's going to be stable. And you want to believe them because it's a big pain in the butt to change property management companies.

Darin: It's a big decision.

Ronnie: And then even when you're doing it, now, I'm on top of the new company. Now I know all the marketing things.

Be Ahead of Your Competition

Ronnie: What's the lead part, and then where are they converting? How long is it taking them to fill out the application? What is our criteria? Why is it taking them from the application to the tour, to the signing of the lease? What's the timeframe? What's the lag? Where are they coming from? What's the source? How much are we paying? Is it a click? And is it an ad? Is it Facebook? So, all things that I never thought I would be learning, it's completely new to me. I'm an ER physician. I would show up to work, and my customers, my patients would just be there. I never had to do the marketing.

Darin: You're basically running a business now.

Ronnie: Yes, and you have to figure out how to get leads. And a lot of times, we're hearing like, "Oh, the vacancy is really low, occupancy is really high," these growing markets. And you think, "Oh, if I build it, it'll come. The tenants are just driving around looking for places to live. But that's not true. And you still are competing with the five apartment complexes that are on the same block as yours, and how do you compete with them, and how do you market?

So, a lot of that, I learned a lot. I learned that one of the biggest things is the property management company is not an expert in it either. They might say they are. They might have a whole team that that's what they do, but they are busy running your property, and they might not be paying attention to the marketing piece.

Lessons Learned for Financial Wellbeing

Lessons Learned for Financial Wellbeing
Photographer: Dim Hou | Source: Unsplash

Darin: And then you learn what questions to ask. Once you understand all that, you also take that to all your additional properties that you end up taking on. So, all these learning lessons get to be stacked on top of each other. And some of them may be applicable to the next property or may be a completely different problem that needs to be solved, but those are learning lessons. You're like, "Oh, I've seen this before, and this is how we tackled it," and that's important. So, what's your next big stretch goal going into 2023? As an LP, you're in 3,800. As a GP, you're in 1,300. What's kind of the next big stretch goal for you?

Ronnie: We are positioning ourselves for 2023 to be buying a lot of properties. We feel like there's going to be a lot of opportunities. So, really repositioning our cash, building our teams ahead of time and being able to move fast on the properties that we see. I think that's going to be our main focus.

Darin: Do you have how many properties in mind or unit count or anything like that for 2023?

Ronnie: I don't, no.

Darin: I guess it depends on the opportunities that come.

Ronnie: Yes. We thought we were going to close on a ton more, and then the whole interest rate craziness occurred. I just want to look at each deal. I don't want to say, "Oh, I said to myself I'm going to buy six, so let me buy this so-so deal.

Investing in the Right Deals

Ronnie: What makes it super important is that I have other people's money, not just mine. I need to make sure that the deal is a winner. Because I never want to come to an investor and say, "This isn't working. We made a mistake." So, it has to be a great deal. So, I'm not going to just say, "Oh, I'm going to buy six." I want to buy amazing deals.

Darin: I get it.

Ronnie: So, that's what I'm looking for.

Darin: So, what do you like to do outside of work, for fun?

Ronnie: I love to travel.

Darin: Where do you travel? US or outside?

Ronnie: Outside, yes. My favorite places are Southeast Asia or Asia. I've spent a month in Thailand, three weeks in Vietnam, a month in China. I've been to Malaysia and Singapore, and I just absolutely love that area of the world.

Darin: So, why did you pick that area of the world? Most people are going to say Europe, right?

Ronnie: Yes.

Darin: Europe's beautiful. But how'd you pick Asia?

Ronnie: I love going to markets, and food markets that is. I love going. There's a lot of night markets and stands, and I love just going and trying new food. And so, that's so fun for me, and that's what I used to do. You can't communicate with them. So, I learned a few words, like is it this, is it this, and you just try it. You point. I used to just go to the fruit markets and pick up. I still do that. Learning all the weird fruits that I'd never seen before.

The Fruits of Your Financial Wellbeing

Ronnie: And I was lucky enough, I took my kids to Costa Rica in the summer. We bought just a bunch of fruit that they'd never seen before, and vegetables, and we just sat around and tried this, like, "Mm, no, I don't like this." They tried it, "No, gross." "Ooh, I like this." And so, just exposing them. I did that a lot before kids, and I love that now I can start introducing my family to all that stuff. It's just really fun for me.

Darin: That's awesome. And what a great exposure for your kids too, so that's fantastic. Hey, if people want to reach out and get to know you better, what's the best way for them to do that?

Ronnie: Yes, so my company is Shalwin Properties, shalwinproperties.com. Or you could email me at ronnie@shalwinproperties.com.

Darin: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on. I think that it's awesome that you are helping burnt-out healthcare professionals. I think that there's so many people out there that probably fall into that niche. And I look forward to seeing you at future events. And listeners, I hope you enjoyed that one. Until next week, signing off.

How to Reach Dr. Ronnie Shalev

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Darin Batchelder

Wealth creation through real estate provided me with a new passion to get the word out and let others know that they have an alternative to investing in the stock market.

If I can inspire and educate just one person to take action that results in life changing wealth creation then the work to launch and grow this podcast is well worth the effort.

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