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September 27, 2022

Mentorship Academy Created To Help Others Enjoy The Journey With Jenny Gou [EP120]

Do you want to be a successful multifamily investor? Jenny Gou is a real estate investor who has made it big in the business. She’s retired from her day job and now dedicates her time to helping others achieve the same level of success she has. She knows what it takes to be successful and is excited to share her knowledge with you through their mentorship academy. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. Listen and learn!

Table of Contents:

Five-Step Process For Passively Investing In Real Estate
Five-Step Process For Passively Investing In Real Estate

Building Wealth Through Mentorship Academy

Building Wealth Through Mentorship Academy
Photographer: Gilles Roux | Source: Unsplash

Darin: A little background on Jenny Gou before we start the show. Both Jenny and her husband worked for many years at Procter and Gamble, and they were looking for a way to diversify their investments. They started to invest in residential real estate and built up a portfolio that allowed her to leave her corporate job. She then decided to scale into multifamily, which led her to want to share with others. That urge to help others led her and her business partner, Steven Louie, to start up their mentorship academy. What a great focus. They get to share and help others build wealth.

Just a little bit on how we know each other, this is the first time we're talking, but I know her business partner very well. Jenny has partnered up with Steven Louie. I met Steven probably three, or four years ago right when I started getting into the multifamily realm. He’s just a really good guy. I'm interested to hear how they partnered up. I've been hearing from other people about all the great things that they're doing together. With that, how many properties and how many units are you currently invested in?

Jenny: My husband and I, we have at this point now over 2,000 doors invested in with our own personal money. From a company standpoint, Vertical Street, we have a little over 1,300 doors under management. It’s roughly equating to over 300 million of assets under management, so predominantly in the Arizona marketplace. Then we just expanded into Texas last year.

A Very Unique Story

Darin: It's actually a very unique story, so I want her to share a little bit about her background. Most people come in and say that they started to invest in real estate, and then they were able to quit their corporate America job. You were able to do that even before investing, so can you share a little bit of that story?

Jenny: My husband and I, we both worked. We actually met at Procter and Gamble. I worked there for about 13 years as a sales director for the company working on brands like Dawn, Cascade, Swiffer, and Febreze. Hopefully, you've heard of a few of those brands. 100% of our retirement was tied into the company, so we have profit sharing.

Of course, we took advantage of 401ks but quickly decided that we didn't want to have all of our eggs in one basket. We started to do a little bit of research on, "Where can we diversify our retirement so we weren't just solely depending on what we had with the company?" Of course, real estate was one of the top things that popped up. When we lived in Cincinnati, we actually started investing. This is quite years ago, in 2016, and 2017, in single family homes.

It's the traditional long-term rental. Nothing fancy. It's just buying your home, and renting it out long-term. After we accumulated about 10, we decided to find a way to scale faster. Coincidentally, we were also moving back to California at that time, and transferred with P&G. But six months later, just due to the nature of the work and the lifestyle that we wanted for our families, we had a conversation between us. I said, "I want to leave."

Success From Single Family

Jenny: I'm able to do so because I had 10 single family passive incomes coming in. That offsets some of my income already. Ronnie would stay behind. We learned about what people were raving about multifamily investments. I just believed in this model so much, and we saw success from the single family side. To me, it was a decision of, "Can I jump into this 100% of my time, take that risk? Be really successful, or try to do it part-time while I'm working full-time with a corporate career, and lots of travel, and lots of stress?"

It was easy. The decision was so easy for me to just jump and dive headfirst into multifamily. That's when we decided, "I'll leave first. Ronnie, you stay for as long as you'd like, but I will take the risk of leaving and pursuing this 100% full in." So, yes, I burned bridges before even purchasing a single multifamily door.

Darin: That's funny. You said it was an easy decision. Most of these decisions, I don't know, in my experience, people say that it wasn't easy. It's easy looking back. But now having had the 10 single families, did that help you make your decision?

Jenny: Yes, absolutely. When I say easy, I don't mean just go do it. You have to actually take a step and plan. We sat down and laid out our finances, and said, "Well, here's what's coming in. Here's what's going out. What needs to happen to make this true and work successfully?" There's a little bit of risk in the sense of it's something new. Obviously, we're giving up some stability to jump and do something new, so there's always that risk.

The Mentorship Academy Allows Flexibility

Jenny: The easy part of that is what I mean by that when you're clear on what your priorities are, your actions and decisions will just make sense. That's the easy part. We said, "We want to prioritize time with family." That's why we moved back to LA. We had no family in the Midwest. So, we prioritized family. I want to spend more time with the kids, in their schools, with their activities. What can I do differently? This industry allows that flexibility. The decision to do it, was the easy part because we had our priorities very clear with each other.

Darin: You also told me that you retired from corporate America at the age of 34. Look, I'm 52. Anybody in their 20s or 30s is able to figure it out and get out of having a W2 job. I admire that, and I applaud that. That's huge. 34, you had built up enough equity. How old were you when you started investing in a single family?

Jenny: 2017, I'm 36 now, so 30, 31.

Darin: Now, you've partnered up with Steven Louie. You've got a company called Vertical Street Ventures. One, how did you guys know each other? How did you guys connect? Then two, what's the vision for this new company?

Jenny: When we moved back to LA, Ronnie actually met Steve at a meetup that Steve was speaking at about multifamily syndications. Then they went out for coffee, got to know each other, and he said, "Why don't you meet my wife? She's thinking about leaving her corporate career and will have a little bit more time and flexibility. You guys would get along." That was the starting point of the relationship.

Leaving Corporate America

Jenny: Then I met with Steve. We chatted a little bit. For the course of the next 10 months, I essentially worked with him. I interned for him for lack of a better word, because I said, "I love what you're doing. You're doing what I want to do. I'm leaving my job. Here are all my skillsets coming from corporate America, managing billion-dollar brands, and creating national sale strategies." He recognized the skillset that I had. I had what he needed, time and the ability to work on potential projects because he was still working full time.

He essentially became my mentor. I interned for a lack of a better word with him for a good 10 months or so before we actually did our first project together.

That's where I always tell folks, "When you're jumping into any industry, really, the quickest way you can accelerate is to find a mentor. Find someone who has done what you've done, has a passion for helping others, and has your interest at heart as well. But you have to bring some value to the table."

You can't be a time sucker, you can’t be a resource sucker, you have to drive and give your mentor value. For him, it was my time and expertise in managing his Phoenix properties for him.

Darin: It's great advice that you just said that you have to bring something to the table. Some people may think like, "What do I have to bring?" I remember when I got in, there were certain people that were cordial. I'd be like, "Oh, let's partner on deals together." "Darin, when the right opportunity comes, we'll partner."

Why Am I Going to Partner With You?

Darin: Those people were wasting my time as much as I was wasting theirs because they didn't tell me the real deal. They didn't see the value. Somebody finally told me, "Darin, if I find a deal, why am I going to partner with you? I'm going to partner with that person over there. They already have an investor database and relationship with a broker."

I'm like, "Why would you partner with me? We'll do something that I don't want to do." Maybe I'm too busy. Go find me the deal. Look, it was a hard little punch, but it was true. Unless both people are bringing value, there's not going to be a true partnership. I love that you gave that advice. Now, you started this company, and you guys are now mentoring other people in my understanding.

Jenny: Yes. Collectively, the company today has me, Steve, Kyle Mitchell, one of our other partners, as well as Ronnie. Collectively, we've bought, accumulated, and built now over $300 million of assets under management. VSV started in January of 2021. We had a lot of people come to us, and say, "Jenny, Steve, and Kyle, how did you grow so fast? What did you do?"

Part of the things that I love about my partners at the company is that we love helping others achieve what we've achieved. I'm sure you say this to folks, I wish I learned this 20 years ago. I wish somebody taught us this out of high school. If we had the knowledge we have right now, it would do wonders and change lives at such an earlier stage.

The Brainchild of the Mentorship Academy

The Brainchild of the Mentorship Academy
Photographer: Milad Fakurian | Source:

Jenny: So when a lot of people came to us, I was sitting down and seeing, I'm like, "You and I both love to help others to coach, to teach. This is a great industry. We wish we learned this sooner. What can we do to help others?" That's the brainchild of how the academy started. We launched a program last fall. It started with about 10 call it beta students just to work things out. Make sure we were running things and giving as much value as we could.

A year later now, we're at 70 plus students. The success has been tremendous. What I mean by that is now, I did a rough tally for our conference back in June. Our current students since joining our program have either partnered with us or done deals on their own, accumulating over 300 million of assets under management already.

What we've taught them, and what they can now do, has been amazing. That's one of the differences in our program. We partner with students on deals, and we've done four partnerships already because it's so competitive to get your foot in the door. To have somebody to help you and provide their credibility, and their name. It's been such a huge benefit for our academy.

Darin: You pay to get into the mentorship group. You're paying to get proximity to a lot of people, but it's still on you to develop the relationships. To figure out what value you bring compared to the other partners, and then go out and find deals. It’s good to have somebody that has the balance sheet, the net worth, and the know-how, and to help prop you along.

The Hardest One to Get

Darin: Getting that first deal for a lot of people is the hardest one to get. Did you guys see that as a risk? I know Steve, so I don't doubt what you're saying. Both your hearts were like, "We love to teach. How can we teach more people?" But when you start getting into setting up a conference and then having to pitch a course and a mentorship academy or a group, whatever, and there's money involved.

You're providing value, but it's also a little stressful. You are outlaying money, time, and your own credibility. That's a risk. Did you guys perceive that as a risk, or did you just play along to the, "We're just going to try to help as many people as possible?"

Jenny: I think with anything you do, there are always risks and rewards. Before you make the decision, you have to weigh the pros and cons. Absolutely, there are risks. What if a student deal goes wrong?

Darin: What if nobody shows up?

Jenny: What if we're not delivering value, and we get a one-star rating? That's why we started with this small group first. The phrase I heard a ton and totally agree with at P&G was feedback is a gift. I love getting lots of gifts to always continually improve, so we do lots of surveys.

We generate feedback from our students after every student event and after every conference because we want to make sure we deliver as much value as we can. It's an investment. You're paying a coach and a mentor. It's a huge investment, so we want to make sure there's accountability on our side to make sure that it's working.

The Risks and Rewards of Building a Mentorship Academy

Jenny: The risks are there, but ultimately, the rewards have been so much greater. There are so many different skill sets. You're learning real estate, but we're also teaching how to put together a sales deck, and how to do an investor webinar without putting them to sleep. Those are just other skill sets that you have to learn to be successful. That's where I think our sales backgrounds, both Steve at Mercer, and myself at P&G. That is where it lends itself to having a well-rounded program.

Darin: I wholeheartedly agree that if you want to do something, find somebody else that's done it, and then learn from them. But I think in the coaching and mentorship industry, there are some negatives that people perceive around. Like, "Well, you're selling a course, and is there enough value?" But as you were speaking, it reminded me of teaching little league baseball. I remember there were kids at the beginning of the season that could barely throw the ball.

Then the joy as a coach, seeing that kid field the ball at third base, and throw it all the way across the diamond and get the kid out at first. After your kids grow up, you don't have that coaching opportunity anymore, but here you do. You get the joy of seeing how you've changed people's lives. Now, there are also financial rewards for doing it, and you wouldn't invest your time if you didn't see that capability. When it comes to coaching, there's just an inherent joy in helping somebody else step up.

Our Purpose in Life

Jenny: I think at the end of the day, we do things that I think are greater than just us.

When I think about our purpose in life, and why we're here, obviously, we want to be successful. You wanted to have financial success, relationship success, and all of that. But what happens when you pass away? Everyone says this. You take your memories with you. The impact that you make on other people, that's what you take with you. I guess as I've gotten older. I'm 35.

Darin: Well, I hope there's a bunch of 20-somethings listening to this because now you're making me look really old.

Jenny: As people get older, you start to think differently about what legacy you want to leave behind. To me and I think a lot of people that I've met in this industry, that legacy is for your family and for us too. Over the last couple of years, it's been, "How do we help and touch more lives?" For us here in this industry, it's getting people to be financially free so that they can live their life by design. Do what they want to do on their own time, and not be tied to their desk or working for the man or the woman in their career.

Darin: There are a few areas of your life that you mentioned. Relational, physical, you want to have good health, financial, those are three of the top that people strive for. If you want to be successful in any of those areas, you actually have to work at it. It doesn't matter if you buy all the great equipment. You actually have to go and do the work.

Working on a Student Deal as Part of the Mentorship Academy

Darin: In multifamily, you still have to go do the work. But it's nice having somebody to coach you along to tell you where you're going to get the most return on your time investment. That's what you guys are doing.

Jenny: Here's a case study. Right now, we are literally working on a student deal. We had a dry run with them yesterday on the webinar and gave them feedback on style. "This is how you should position it. When this question comes up, this is how I would answer it." That's how granular we get with them because we want them to be able to raise capital for this project. As part of the mentorship academy, we have 14 modules with quizzes on every different key topic throughout the syndication process.

I'm telling them, "Watch the legal module. We're going through legal docs right now. Watch the loan module. We are signing up for the loan, and going through that application process." It links together really well because adults learn by doing more so than just listening. So being able to hear and then actually apply it has been a lot of value for them through this process.

Darin: I'm sure it gives them a lot of confidence too having other people talk about how they've already gone through it. I was out at a property and spent some time with the onsite leasing manager. The leasing manager afterward was like, "Thank you for spending time." I helped just talk through like, "If I had these objections, these are some of the things that I would probably say or whatever."

How to Be More Successful

Darin: That leasing person just wanted to learn. He just wanted to do his job better, learn how to do it better, and learn how to be more successful. I applaud people like you. You said you retired at 34. Then you went and bought a ton of multifamily. You guys don't have to do this, you could be sitting on a beach. I love the fact that successful people will turn around and reinvest time, money, and effort into helping pull other people up. I've been patting your back a lot in this interview, so far.

Talk about mindset. I think that going from single family to multifamily can be scary. Going from investing in stocks and 401ks to just buying a single family house could be scary. So how do you shift that mindset to take that chance, and do something different?

Jenny: I love learning about mindset, and listening to podcasts. Tony Robbins, I went to one of his conferences last year. My mind was just blown. He's got so much energy. I think ultimately why you are scared, it's because you don't know the data and the information. Once you're able to educate yourself, then that fear subsides and you're more confident. Growing up, we were told to invest in stocks, a 401k, an IRA, and a Roth. All of that was taught to us.

We didn't know any different, because we weren't needing to know any different until someone opens our eyes to other means like real estate. It's a little scary, of course, because you're not familiar with it. But once you collect the data, and understand the numbers, then the fear goes away.

Real Estate and Mentorship Academy Decisions

Real Estate and Mentorship Academy Decisions
Photographer: Towfiqu barbhuiya | Source: Unsplash

Jenny: You just have to do that first one to see that, "That wasn't that hard, or that wasn't that scary." Then it snowballs. Same thing with multifamily. Ronnie actually was the one that drives a lot of the real estate decisions for us. In the beginning, he said, "Let's do real estate." I said, "Tell me more. Give me the data." I'm more of a detail person. I have to check the facts before we made the decision. So I said, "Okay, cool. I think that makes sense. Let's go try it." Then one day, our pillow talk is typically real estate or taxes. One day, he was like, "Let's try buying an apartment building."

I was silent for a little bit. In my head, I was thinking, "This guy's nuts. How are we going to go buy an apartment?" But I said, "Okay, that feels a little daunting. Tell me more." Again, it was nerve-racking to go and buy our first apartment. But because I had a mentor, Steve was my mentor, and because we collected and gathered enough information to make an educated decision, then that risk and that fear completely goes away. Then it's more excitement at that point. It replaces the fear, and then you're like, "Now, I'm going to go buy an apartment. I'm going to do this and invest." It becomes excitement, at least for me.

Darin: It's so true that anytime you're doing something that you haven't done before, it's scary, but it could be exciting at the same time. If you think back to your first stock trade, that's what everybody tells you you should invest in.

The Online Platform

Darin: But the first time that you got onto an online platform, and bought your first stock, you didn't know how to do it. You did it. Then when you bought your first house, that's a big investment, but everybody seems to do that.

Even though it's scary, it seems like that's normal, but the real estate investing, the multifamily is another step removed. Not everybody is doing it, and it feels a little scary. My advice is to surround yourself with other people that have done it. Then you start seeing all these other people. Like Jenny just said, it becomes exciting instead of scary. You see all these other people doing it, and it starts to seem a little bit normal. Then once you do it, the next time gets easier and easier and easier.

Jenny: The funny thing is real estate isn't new. Buying and investing in real estate has been around for hundreds of years. It's now only become more accessible to the general public because of things like syndications and social media. People are getting more educated about it. It's scary for the new person doing it today, but it's not like crypto where that's completely new over the last couple of years. Real estate has been around forever.

Darin: That word syndication can be intimidating. How would you define syndication?

Jenny: A syndication to me essentially is pooling together investor funds to go purchase an asset together. It could be an apartment building, it could be retail space, anything, whatever you want to buy. It’s pooling together not just your own money, but a group of people's money, so investor's money to buy something.

A 30-Million-Dollar Apartment Community

Darin: That just simplifies it. You can't buy a 30-million-dollar apartment community, but you could invest $50,000 or $100,000. Pool that money with a bunch of other people, and go buy that 30-million-dollar building. That seems so foreign to a lot of people, but that's what's happening. The returns are significantly better than what I saw in the stock market. I don't know if your results have been the same, but extremely different.

What's the major advice that you would give people? I was talking to a guy earlier today. He said, "Darin, I've heard do LP, then become a KP, then become a GP." I had my own take on it, but what's yours? What's the advice that you give somebody when they're just jumping into the syndication world?

Jenny: I would say, start with your priorities and your “why”. So if you are jumping into this, and you just want to invest in as an LP, limited partner, and be that passive investor, which is great, set a goal. Say, if I want $10,000 a month of passive income, for example, then go learn what you need to learn to get that goal, and just do it. I'm sure you hear this all the time.

Part of the issue that holds people back is that they just accumulate knowledge, and then they don't do anything. They don't take action. Get yourself to that point, and then just do that first deal. Whether it's an LP or a GP, just go do it. Your fear will subside. You'll get excited, and you'll actually want to do more pretty quickly afterward.

Darin: Did you have fear on your first syndication as an LP? What were you afraid of?

A Risk of Loss

Jenny: The risks. For any new endeavor, there's a risk of loss.

Darin: More people are afraid that they're going to lose than they do think about how much they have to gain.

Jenny: It's human nature to feel that way.

Darin: I was scared, but then the second time, I wasn't scared, and the third time, next time. It definitely gets easier.

Jenny: Especially when you get that first sale, then you truly see the power of the syndication. We just sold a property for 3X returns in under 20 months.

Darin: Somebody invested $100,000. They're getting back their $100,000 plus another 200,000.

Jenny: Let's say, for example, you invest 100, inclusive of your cash flow within that timeframe and the proceeds from sales, your share of the profits. We gave our investors over 3X returns in under 20 months.

Darin: Where does Vertical Street Ventures go from here? What's the vision going forward?

Jenny: I get asked that a lot, and I always say I don't know because as an entrepreneur, it's so hard. I feel like our goals change every quarter. I'll tell you when we launched this company, we said, "We need to set a goal." Granted it was 2021, COVID was still going on. We didn't know what was realistic. So we just said, "You know what, let's say 25 million. Let's go acquire 25 million of new assets to put under management."

We ended the year with 86 million new assets under management. Then we said, "Well, that's great. What should our goal be for 2022?" Again, just working together, and not knowing, we knew we were going to be successful. But we’re just like, "If we just threw a number out there, let's just double.

The Journey and the Process of a Successful Mentorship Academy

Jenny: All right, we're going to double. We're going to get 180 million of new acquisitions this year." We are on track to hit that for the end of the year. I share that to illustrate, but what I want to stress is I want to enjoy the journey and the process.

Setting a goal is great, and it puts something on paper and in the sky for you to reach to, but don't forget to pause. Celebrate your successes. Enjoy the journey, because once you hit your goal, you're on to new goals. You never stop.

So, I prefer to focus on, "Here's our goal, but here's what I'm going to do along the way. Here are who we're going to impact, how we're going to do it." That's actually more enjoyable than just trying to hit our goal. But if I had to put a number to it, we'll probably hit it, because that's how we are. We'll be a billion dollars in three years if I had to peg it.

Darin: I love that you said to enjoy the journey because I think that plays into a lot of different things. As you do things that are uncomfortable, and you stretch, there's that combination of fear and excitement. At the same time, but then that's to me, as an entrepreneur, where the juices are flowing. Like, can I make this happen? Then once you achieve that, you're onto other goals, onto new things that are going to stretch you. That's part of the reason why people want freedom, financial freedom, and time freedom so that they can enjoy.

Enjoy the Journey and Celebrate Success

Darin: There are some people that are just caught up in the number of units, the number of assets under management, and building a bigger company. I'm not sure if they slow down to enjoy the journey. You do need to celebrate some of those successes and do some things that you enjoy in life as well. I like your attitude.

I'm part of the Sumrok group. I see it with certain people that come into the group. It's not like I can tell right away who's going to be successful or not, but there are some people that are successful, and there are some people that fall off. So within your group of 70 students, what are some of the defining characteristics of the go-getters? The ones that make it happen versus the ones that paid the money, they're part of the group, but they're coming up short.

Jenny: It follows the 80/20 rule. I would say, generally speaking, 20% of our student group make up 80% of the successes so far. That's fair to say.

Darin: What are the top 20% doing differently?

Jenny: I'll use a classroom as the analogy. I would say similar to how your top students are probably the ones that are sitting in the front row. They are raising their hands, asking the most questions, leading subgroups or projects, and they show up. You're absolutely right. There are probably a handful of folks in our academy, who I probably haven't seen in six months in our mastermind sessions or coaching calls. For whatever their reason is, they're busy.

A Hindrance to Success

A Hindrance to Success
Photographer: Christina @ wocintechchat.com | Source: Unsplash

Jenny: They have big things going on at work or personally. It's not bad or wrong, it's just where they are in their stage. That, of course, will hinder how successful they are. But the ones who are showing up and asking questions, and 100% fully engaged with the group and the coaches, are the ones that are successful. It's great because that level of commitment is inspiring the other students to pick up their butts and keep moving.

When you see the success of other people, competition comes naturally, but it should also be inspiring to others that we have doctors and lawyers in our group. They are on the clock and very busy as well, like everybody else. But if they can do it, then why can't I, or why can't these students? That's what we try to encourage.

Darin: It's interesting. I love that you said the 80/20 rule because I believe that too. It's like, "You know what? Think about your life and all the different careers and competitions you've been in, and the sports. Are you the type that rises up and figures it out? If you are, then I'm like, "You will find a way to make it happen. You don't have all the answers right away, but you get plugged in with people that can educate you. Then you will fight, kick, and scratch to figure it out."

The ones that pay money and just expect it to be handed to them, don't have a good return. It doesn't matter what mentorship group, or what coaching group they get involved with, you have to put in the work.

Success Is More Than Just Being a Part of a Mentorship Academy

Darin: You said to start with your why. I don't know if you've ever read that book by Simon Sinek, but it's a great book. I love that response because that's so true. It's more than just writing a check to be part of a group or a mentorship academy or a coaching group or a mentorship group.

You actually have to make a decision that you are going to buy real estate, and you need somebody to help you get there. You're committed to doing that. You need to make that decision, and you need to be committed. If you don't do that, then you're putting too much on the coaching group. They're not going to be able to make up the difference. It's got to be a two-way street working together.

Jenny: I'll add to that. I'd say the students who I think I see actually spin a lot in their own minds. Those who spin their wheels a lot are the ones who don't have their priorities straight. They don't have it very clear. Yes, they joined because they saw the results, but that's our example and our goals for ourselves.

When you come in, and you're not clear on what you want and what your priorities are, then it's harder to help you get to that end state if you can't even articulate what you want. That's why we push a lot of our students in the first couple of calls. What do you want, what are your goals, and how do we help you get there? If there's no clarity in that, then I can't help you. You have to be super crystal clear.

Relevant Corporate Skill Sets in the Multifamily Industry

Darin: Somebody once told me a story. It sounds so ridiculous, but this person walks into an airport and walks up to the ticket counter, and says, "Give me a ticket." They're like, "Well, where do you want to go?" Like, "I don't know. Just give me a ticket." They won't issue you a ticket until you tell them where you want to fly to. So many people live their life that way, where they haven't figured out where they want to go.

Once you know where you want to go, then you could go searching for people to help you get there. If you don't know where you want to go, it's very hard for people to help you. So your background, Procter and Gamble, a great company, marque name on your resume. What skill sets do you think that you learned there that you're being able to utilize in the multifamily investing world?

Jenny: Steven and I talk about this all the time when we look at who's successful in this industry, and there are a lot of successful people. The key common trait that we notice are folks who have some corporate training. It doesn't have to be sales. You could be in corporate finance or corporate accounting or corporate engineering or logistics, whatever it is. The key is in apartment syndications, you're running a business.

Yes, people live there, but it is a business. It's not a single family home, where it's one house, one everything. You're running a multifamily, multi-million dollar business. So, you have to think like a business owner, like an entrepreneur, "How do I drive income? How do I reduce expenses, project manage, or manage people?"

People Who Accelerate Faster

Jenny: You are constantly working cross-functionally across your property management, your investors, your lenders, and your brokers. When you have that experience in your back pocket, that's where I find a lot of people are more successful. They accelerate faster.

If you don't have that sales kit, and that's okay, maybe you're a doctor, a lawyer, or someone non-traditionally corporate, find a partner. Build your team, so you're rounding yourself out with somebody who has the experience to help execute and run the business plan. That's important.

Darin: I actually just interviewed a doctor a few weeks ago. He said, "I immediately recognized what I was good at." His happy place is in surgery, helping the health of people, but he's learned how to grow his wealth. He wants to share that as well, but he's not the operations guy. He‘s like, "I partnered with a really good operations guy. I don't have the time, because I'm in surgery a lot, so I partnered with a great acquisitions guy." He recognized what his strengths were, and what his weaknesses were, and then married those up, which is exactly what you're saying.

Jenny: That's so key. It's finding what you're good at, and then also what you love doing. When that happens, I always say magical things happen. You could be really good at it, but if you don't love it, then you probably shouldn't be doing it anyways. But when you match those two things together, that's where really phenomenal things occur.

Darin: I fall into this camp too. Sometimes it's hard to think that the things that you hate, somebody else is going to like, but they do. There are certain people who actually enjoy doing the stuff that you don't like.

Different Dreams

Darin: They're glad that you love the stuff that they don't. But sometimes in your own mind, you may say, "Nobody else would want to do this piece."

Jenny: You'd be surprised.

Darin: When you were a child, did you know you were going to be super successful?

Jenny: I don't think any child thinks they're going to grow up to be unsuccessful. We had different dreams as a kid. I had no idea I would be running a real estate company when I was grown up and a big kid. So I wanted to do everything all the kids wanted. I wanted to be a cop, a lawyer even, an astronaut, all those fun, creative things. Then things just changed. But at the end of the day, I think it's the experiences you gather as you grow up that shape, obviously, who you end up being. Not being successful was not an option for me growing up.

Darin: Where did you grow up?

Jenny: All over the place.

Darin: In the U.S.?

Jenny: Yes and no. My family were Vietnamese immigrants. They were refugees. I was actually born in a refugee camp in the Philippines. We immigrated to Canada, believe it or not of all places, lived there until I was about nine, and then came over to the U.S. I've been in the U.S. since I was nine, all over the country, Virginia, Arizona. I worked with P&G, Minnesota, Cincinnati, and now, California.

Darin: There's a piece of life that's financial, you retired. You said, "I wouldn't be surprised if I'd be at a billion dollars in assets under management in three years." At a certain point, the dollars and cents are there.

Building Legacy Wealth Through Mentorship Academy

Darin: You don't have the worry, and you've got the legacy wealth to pass on to your family, but what's the remaining life purpose? People that are wealthy retire and go sit on a beach. You hear too many stories about how they just deteriorate because they don't have that life purpose still. People that give back, whether it's financial education or partnering with people going to career paths, think about Shark Tank.

Those guys are so wealthy. They're making more money by partnering with these people but that could potentially change the lives of those individuals. To me, after you get the financial piece, the joy of helping somebody else's life is just massive. Do you keep growing the academy, or do you keep it small?

Jenny: Honestly, if I can help more people faster, then I'm 100% dedicated to that. I would love to grow the academy because they don't just learn from us and I learn from them also. Our students range from folks in their 20s. We have a 70-something-year-old student in the academy, and that is so admirable at that life stage. They are still wanting to learn and that is so amazing to see. The more people that I can help, the more that actually they help me because I'm constantly learning from them.

I don't know. This could be a 500-person academy. In a couple of years, it could be a thousand. Whatever that number is, I feel so much pride when I see our students be successful. It's like when you work in a regular job. At P&G, when I was able to promote somebody, that was probably one of the best days of my career.

Moving on to Bigger and Better Things

Moving on to Bigger and Better Things
Photographer: Ian Taylor | Source: Unsplash

Jenny: I helped somebody learn, grow, do better, to move on to bigger and better things. That's what I see in the academy their success is my success, and that's what I want to continue as long as I can.

Darin: What's your take on social media as it relates to what you're talking about, helping other people?

Jenny: Love-hate. Social media has exponentially helped us reach more people. There are definitely more pros than cons to what we put out there. The hate part, I think why I quickly said is just because I think bad news and negative news also spread very quickly. That part I've had to learn how to just come to grips with and ignore more purposefully so that it doesn't consume me. It applies to everything, not just real estate or the industry, but just everything in general. We can find a better way to use social media for more good than bad.

Darin: I used to think it was a time suck, that it was just kids scrolling through on their phone. But the neat part is being able to connect with people that aren't in your backyard and learn from people all across the country. I don't know if you get many of these questions through your academy or not, but I get people that talk about, "Well, you know what? I want to do my first deal before I start posting anything, or even I want to go full cycle before I start posting anything."

Documenting the Process of a Successful Mentorship Academy

Darin: Part of my response to that is, "There are people in your network that are not in my network and are not in Jenny's network. There are some of those people who if you get too far down the path, will not relate to you anymore. You've already figured it all out where some people want to watch you go through the journey." People have said with social media, just document what you're going through and your process, and where you're at. Then let other people learn from you. I think that's the right approach.

Now, social media is weird, because there's a little bit of, "Look at me." Everybody's trying to grab attention but I think you have to block that out. When you talk about the negative, I think you have to block out the fact that there are going to be some people that will judge you for that. There are other people that are like, "Thank you for sharing, because I wouldn't have known this otherwise. I wouldn't have known that you were in real estate, that I can go to this free meetup group. Or I wouldn't have known about this webinar where I could get free tax advice," whatever the case may be.

I would encourage people to share if they are going along the journey because almost everybody, started out for their families. How do we build wealth for our own families? Then all of a sudden, you start seeing it work, and you want to share it with more people, but you didn't probably realize that in the beginning. There's a huge ripple effect that people can help people, and then the next people help the next people, and so on.

The Gap Versus the Gain

Jenny: I've had people who have retired from P&G reach out to me, and say, "What are you up to, or I didn't know you were in real estate." There are just so many more positive outcomes because social media has provided an outlet, and the speed of reach to enable learning. That's one of the biggest benefits of posting, but then also celebrating. I read a book by Dan Sullivan. It's called The Gap and the Gain. He talks about focusing on what you gained versus your gap against other people.

Sometimes, social media drives that like, "Look at this person. They accumulated a million dollars today." It drives some comparison, and that's the negative part of it. But if you focus on your gain yourself, what you gained, versus yesterday. That is so much more beneficial than your gap versus somebody else.

Darin: I think of it in terms of progress. Compete against yourself and your progress, and look back, and you're a different person than you were six months ago than a year ago. Dan Sullivan had the other book, Who Not How. I read that book. We talked about where you guys are going, a billion. What do you like to do outside of work for fun?

Jenny: I have an almost nine-year-old and a six-and-a-half-year-old. I am truly living the soccer mom life. It is real. The back of our minivan has nothing but soccer gear. That consumes really after-school hours and then Saturdays, really all day Saturday, because they're both in soccer.

Darin: Do you guys have to do the divide and conquer? One goes to one soccer game, the other one goes to the other.

In the Same Field

Jenny: Fortunately, no. This year, they're all in the same field. They're just either staggered in time, so we just bounce around. That's been so much better. I don't envy the parents that have to split up across different sports.

Darin: Well, your time might come at some point. Our kids are both college age, but we had plenty of weekends where I'd be down in this city. My wife would be in a different city and with our other child. It could end up pushing you in different directions. It's such a fun time, so enjoy the journey. Enjoy that time. If people want to reach out, and get to know you and your company better, what's the best way for them to do that?

Jenny: You can visit our website. It's verticalstreetventures.com. Contact information's all there. We're on all the social media handles. I love meeting new people, and learning more about them, so feel free to reach out, set up a time, and be happy to chat about how we can help, or I can help them in their journey in real estate.

Darin: Fantastic. Well, Jenny, I really appreciate you coming to the show. Listeners, definitely check these guys out. They've got great hearts, and they're giving back. Check out their website, and until next week. Signing off.

How to Reach Jenny Gou

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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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