“Live Intentionally — Instead of multi-tasking, you really need to focus on whatever matter is at hand. If I’m on a vacation with my family for a week, I can’t be working, going to the gym and doing all these things. I really need to be on vacation and completely unplug. I may stop going to the gym for a week. There are seasons and cycles and the main thing is that is to live intentionally. You want to reflect a lot on what’s really important to you.”
Michael Blank is an entrepreneur, investor, author (“Financial Freedom with Real Estate Investing”), coach, and leading authority on apartment investing in the United States. As the CEO of Nighthawk Equity, Best-selling Author, Host of the Apartment Building Investing Podcast, Columnist and Real Estate Investor, Blank’s passionate about helping people become financially free in 3–5 years by investing in apartment building deals with a special focus on raising money. Through Blank’s investment company, Nighthawk Equity, he controls over $27M million in performing multifamily assets all over the United States and has raised over $6M. In addition to his own investing activities, he’s helped students purchase over 2,300 units valued at $86M through his unique “Deal Desk” and training programs. Blank’s been interviewed by top real estate podcasts, including Bigger Pockets, Joe Fairless (Best Ever Show), Get Rich Education, Cashflow Ninja and many more. “The Michael Blank” blog has also been listed in the Top 25 Real Estate Investing Blogs of 2018 by Leap Property Management.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
My back story is that I was like many people who were taught to go to school, get good grades, and get a good job. I followed this advice, got into computer science and worked at a software start up at the right place and right time. We went public in 2000. I put a bunch of money in my pocket, which was great. Then, I read this book called “Rich Dad Poor Dad”, and it completely changed my entire financial outlook. From that point forward, all I wanted to do was get passive income, so I never had to work again. So, I decided to quit my job, and hired a mentor to help me flip houses. I took classes to learn how to trade stocks and options. I took an apartment building bootcamp. But, my big idea at the time was to get into restaurants because I was surrounded by a bunch of people who made it all sound simple.
Today, I am one of the leading authorities on apartment building investing. We have online training and coaching. We have live events. We have a book and a podcast. We also actively purchase multi-family buildings throughout the United States and control about $30M in real estate.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
While I was learning how to build passive income, I decided to invest all of my net worth and time into pizza restaurants. I signed up with a pizza franchise and signed leases. It was great for a while, but to make a long story short, I subsequently lost my IPO millions in the restaurant business. I clawed my way out with real estate investing. I was primarily flipping houses in the early days, before I saw the light and switched to apartment buildings.
What was your biggest challenge to date either personally or professionally and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was certainly my total financial loss caused by investing in pizza restaurants. It was just very unsettling because there seemed to be no bottom. It got so bad that I had all of my credit cards maxed out. I remember clearly going to Panera and trying to buy a cup of coffee and my credit card got declined because I had maxed out the $30,000 limit. While this was going on, I was getting letters from the IRS because I couldn’t pay my employment taxes anymore.
I got myself out of this low point through real estate and flipping houses. I really seriously thought about getting another job to bring in income. However, I’m hard wired to be an entrepreneur. I refused to believe that God got me into this mess and would make me go back to a job. So, I decided to go into real estate and start flipping houses. Eventually I got into apartment buildings and started to blog about what I was doing, and that’s how I got myself out of the mess that I was in with the restaurants.
What does leadership mean to you and how do you best inspire others to lead?
People get behind something when there’s a worthwhile mission. I think the secret to a successful leader is to have a mission that is worthwhile and exciting to people. Then, your job as the leader is to constantly remind people about the mission. So many times when someone is disgruntled with something, or feels they’re not happy, if you remind them of the mission that they’re a part of, it’s amazing how that “fixes” the problem. With a strong mission, you get people to work harder for less pay, attract higher quality people and have more success. Right now, my mission is to help people become financially free with real estate.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
There have been many people who helped me, of course. In the beginning, I really didn’t surround myself with mentors. I felt like I had a lot of money, and I was “the man” who didn’t really need a lot of help. And obviously, I think a little differently now. The single person who has been most supportive through all of this journey has been my wife. She’s not directly involved in the business, per se, but she’s been unbelievably calm throughout it all. She’s always believed that everything’s going to be all right. Honestly, though this entire time, my faith in God has also really developed. I went to church before, but when I went out on my own and started experiencing these things, I really started relying on God to show up, and he did multiple times. And, that has given me a huge amount of peace, regardless of what the situation is right now.
Was it difficult to fit your life into your business/career and how did you do that?
Yes, at times it was hard to balance my life and business. I think the issue with being an entrepreneur is that you always feel like if you worked harder, you can do more. As an entrepreneur, in particular, it’s really difficult to maintain that life balance. It became more difficult to focus on the other layers.
Did you find that as your success grew it became more difficult to focus on the other areas of your life?
Yes, it’s challenging. You can always do more and work harder. Because of that reason, it is harder to focus on the other areas of your life. The temptation as an entrepreneur is that you constantly feel like you should be doing more. And especially early on, as you’re trying to build your business, that comes at the cost of everything else in life. Everything … your health, your relationships, your spirituality get impacted because you’re so focused on being successful and working harder. A lot of those things have to suffer then.
Can you share five pieces of advice to other leaders about how to achieve the best balance between work and personal life?
- Right Mindset — The best way to achieve balance between work and your personal life is having the right mindset. What I mean by that is, I think that life balance is a bit of a myth, at least in the way that people traditionally think about it. The way that people traditionally think about it is that every day, you really have to have a routine that you’re working on every part of your life equally. I don’t think that’s actually realistic, and certainly has not been in my life and other people, as well, because what you’re doing is multi-tasking. In doing so, you really don’t do a good job in any one of them.
- Live Intentionally — Instead of multi-tasking, you really need to focus on whatever matter is at hand. For example, in the traditional way of life balance, if I’m on a vacation with my family for a week, I can’t be working, going to the gym and doing all these things. I really need to be on vacation and completely unplug. I may stop going to the gym for a week. In other words, there are seasons and cycles and the main thing is that is to live intentionally. You want to reflect a lot on what’s really important to you. Then, do those things that are important to you at the time.
- Involve Your Spouse — It helps to be on the same page with your spouse or significant other about what is important in life. For example, sometimes, the spouse may be more supportive of you to start a company at the expense of maybe spending time with the kids for a period of time.
- Set Goals in Each Area of Your Life — You want to think about your financial, professional and relationship goals. You may decide to have a date night with your wife once a week. For health, your goal may be to eat right and go to the gym two to three times a week. It’s really important to set goals for each area in your life. Then, schedule those things in your calendar, as well, because if you don’t do that, at least for me, things don’t happen. You need to be very intentional about what you want in life. It’s not just work.
- Practice a Morning Routine — The thing that I’ve been doing is called the “Miracle Morning” routine. It’s a book by Hal Elrod, and it’s been fabulous because the author tells you exactly how to spend the first 60 minutes of every single day. It’s a combination of silence, visualization, prayer, reading, and journaling. In doing so, it actually helps achieve the other things I recommend in this story for life balance. It allows you to reflect and live intentionally. It allows you to set goals and to get the right mindset.
What gives you the greatest sense of accomplishment and pride?
For me, creating opportunity for as many people as possible gives me the greatest sense of accomplishment. In my world, it’s about helping people become financially free with real estate. It’s helping them do their first deal, which will then help them quit their jobs. It’s about creating opportunity for investors in our deals, and the people raising the money. It’s about growing a company to create more opportunity for other team members, so that allows them to provide for their family. It’s really about creating opportunity for as many other people as possible.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could inspire a movement, it would be based on the idea that you don’t have to work for money. It’s a very powerful idea because it’s a major step towards living a life of significance. It’s very difficult to live a life of significance when you’re working 50 plus hours a week. It’s much harder because your life is consumed with work, stress, and then maybe family and errands. There’s really no room for anything else. I find that the people who do achieve financial freedom, in other words, they have income coming in passively off real estate or book royalties or whatever the case may be. All of a sudden, they have this giant vacuum in their head that was previously consumed with work and they start asking, “Well, how should I fill this vacuum in my head?” Invariably, after they buy a bunch of things and go on vacation for a long time, they reflect, “Is there anything more in life?” They typically come to the ah-ha conclusion that life is about significance, leaving a legacy, and serving other people.
What is the best way for people to connect with you on social media?
Instagram @themichaelbank http://instagram.com/themichaelblank
About the author: Jacob Rupp is a coach, author, speaker, podcaster, and rabbi. He is the founder of Lift Your Legacy, a community that helps people live a more authentic life. He has a regular, syndicated column that appears in ThriveGlobal and Medium magazine. To learn more about him or to listen to the Lift Your Legacy podcast, search iTunes or visit his site: liftyourlegacy.live