We have all dreamed of achieving financial independence. And we have kind of accepted that it may come to us later in life. However, our guest today shows that it is not impossible to become financially free early! Craig Curelop sits down with real estate investor, podcaster, and entrepreneur, Brian Luebben. In this episode, Brian discusses his journey to financial independence and how he quit his corporate job and created the life of his dreams with real estate. He shares how he house hacked his way to become financially free at just 27 years old, traveling around the world and doing the things he loves. Join Brian as he tells us more about the steps he took to achieve that independence. Not only that but how he is also inspiring others with their own journeys. Find great nuggets of wisdom here and start living your ideal life every single day.
We have an affiliate program added to the show (we have the recording as well). They can go to www.rentredi.com and use our CODE: INVEST2FI to get 50% off on their first 6 months.
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Another Affiliate – Kaplan Real Estate Education (we have the recording as well). They can go to the website –https://www.kapre.com/ and use our CODE – Invest2
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Creating Your Best, Financially Independent Life With Brian Luebben
We’ve got an amazing guest. He’s a GoBundance brother of mine, and he is an amazing dude. He’s an inspiration. He drops goals all throughout the episode, from the first minute all the way to the last. You’re going to want to read this all the way through. If you do get all the way through, please remember to leave us a rating and review. This is what helps the show get out to tons of people, provide tons of value, and hopefully, help more people achieve financial independence.
Brian‘s story starts with a little bit of a house hack. He gets into that financial independence point, and then he goes off and starts this other adventure, which is getting him to even fatter financial independence. He’s out traveling the world, doing the things that he loves to do, and living his ideal life every single day. To top it all off, he’s only 27 years old now in 2022, doing all this. I’m not going to reveal any more of his story. Let’s bring him on the show.
Brian Luebben, welcome to the show. How are you doing?
I’m doing freaking awesome. How are you, buddy?
It’s good that you’re on the show. It’s good we get to catch up again. This is the second time in two weeks. What do I have at this honor?
It’s all the Venmo requests them sending you to request your time and your presence. Craig charges $30 per ten-minute friendship fee.
Anybody who wants to be my friend, you can sign up at CraigCurelop.com/BrianLuebben for the affiliate code. Brian, let’s kick this thing off. Tell us how you first heard about financial independence. That’s a big thing for you.
I’ve got two different stories behind that. I’ve got the financial side, and the philosophical side. My backstory in a 30,000-foot view is I went and was in corporate sales outside of college. I jumped right into Corporate America. My entire identity was being a B2B sales rep. I was like, “I’m good at talking and asking good questions.” I rose to the top of the company, and I hit the most amount of goals that you could hit.
I did everything that you could do. I was number 8 out of 5,079 reps for that position in the company in the United States. I won all the awards. On the next day, they were like, “Your team is behind projections for the next quarter. Fix it, or we’re going to have to change some things.” I said, “That’s fun. There’s nothing left for me to pursue.” I made it to the mountain top, and I realized I was climbing up the wrong mountain.
I want to dig into that a little bit. A lot of people who are reading this blog are still in W-2. Sales jobs are great when you first get in. Your income is effectively infinite. What did you do in your sales job to go from a college kid who knows next to nothing, maybe an overly confident frat boy, to the top eight in the country?
There are two things from a sales perspective. First off, that was my entire life. I spent every waking moment learning about sales, improving sales, and working on my craft, all that good stuff. If I were to narrow it down to two things specifically, I listen to podcasts in the car. I did the math. I realized if I stopped listening to music and instead, listen to a podcast for two hours a day, that would be my commute to work and back from work, let alone all the stuff in between.
If I listened to sales podcasts 2 hours a day for 5 days a week, that’s 10 hours per week. On top of that, per month, that’s 40 hours. I’m not even doing anything extra outside of work. I’m getting a full master class, a 40-hour work week of training on top of working those extra hours. I skyrocketed past my peers because this is what I was doing. That was one. Number two is from the beginning, I instantly had this idea where I’m going to find out whoever’s the best at the job, and figure out what makes them, them. I’m going to annoyingly pursue them until they form a friendship with me. That’s what we did.
That applies to all parts of life here. Most people show up to work. They show up at 9:00, leave at 5:00, collect their check, and go about their day. They make the average salary of a US citizen. How do you take a step back and become the best at your job? You got to put in the most effort. How does Kobe Bryant become a better basketball player than LeBron James?
They’re putting millions of dollars into training and into all this stuff. You got to be better than 5,642 other salesmen. How do you come in that top percent? I feel like that’s who you are. That is how you become great at everything that you do. You raised the top of this company. How much were you making at this point, at the peak?
Over $200,000. Maybe $210,000 to $220,000.
You’re a young kid making $210,000 to $220,000, and your boss says, “You’re providing behind projections. Fix it.” That sounds like a lot of pressure. How do you react to that?Find out what that thing is for you, pursue it, and try to do it as a team effort instead of just going about it solo. Click To Tweet
It wasn’t a lot of pressure. It was a lot of irritation. I was like, “I’ve been driving hard towards this singular goal.” I hit it, and it’s super unfulfilling. It’s like you climb to the mountain that you’ve been working blood, sweat, and tears. You’ve been envisioning it. You get to the mountain top, and you’re like, “This is terrible.” I feel terrible. I feel like a cog in a machine. I feel under-appreciated. I can’t do this anymore. I switched the sales podcast to a real estate investing podcast. I heard David Osborn, who’s the Founder of GoBundance, on the BiggerPockets Podcast. I learned about net worth, and realized I was worthless because I was spending all the money that I had made.
What do you mean by that, you were worthless net worth?
I’m worthless, zero.
What does that mean? You had no money, even though you’re making $220,000 a year?
Maybe I had $10,000 chilling in the savings account, but besides that, if I got a huge commission check, I’m going to Miami. That is what I was doing. I didn’t know any better. I was a punk kid.
That’s what most people do. That’s why middle-class and poor people all talk about income. Income is worthless. If you’re making $210,000 and you’re spending $200,000, you’re worse off than someone making $50,000 and spending $30,000. That’s the magic of this whole movement. You listened to that podcast, and you figured out, “I need to save my money. I need to invest in things.” You need to grow your net worth, your assets minus your liabilities. When did you hear that? What year was that?
It was 2019. At the same time, I was trying to plan a trip to Italy because I had never been to Italy before. I was putting all this effort and trying to ask off for my two weeks of PTO. I wanted to ask off at least a week for Italy. I asked off for ten days. I realized that I only had 2 or 3 days to use for the rest of the year, PTO. I was like, “I got to figure out how to get out of this job slowly but surely.” I listened to podcasts and figured that out. I said, “I’m going to buy a house hack.” All of my money started going towards buying that first house hack.
Where are you located to buy this first house hack?
Why don’t we get into a little bit of this first deal? This is in 2019, you said?
This is 2019. That’s when I bought the first one. This was January 2019. It took me a full year to save up that first $25,000 that I needed to be able to buy that first house back in 2019, but I got it done in December 2019 to buy my first house hack.
The hardest part is saving up that first $25,000 to get that first investment. After that, it starts getting easier. Before we get into the deal, how did you save $25,000 in twelve months?
I was making $200,000 a year. I was making a high income. I started saving 50% every single paycheck. It took a while to be able to get my lifestyle down to the point where I needed to be. I brought in a roommate and stuff like that to my apartment. I was living over by the Braves stadium in Atlanta. I started cutting back and having a budget. Fifty percent of every single paycheck started going directly towards that.
I saved up that $25,000, and I was like, “It’s time.” In October, we get under contract finally on the property. It ended up being $27,000 in total cash invested. That was with a down payment and closing costs covered. I had to buy, build an extra laundry room, and all that stuff. In the second year after I moved there, I saved up $25,000 in six months. The third time I did it, I saved it in a month. Now, I’ve been trying to get to the point where I could save it in a week. I haven’t gotten to the point where I could stay up $25,000 in a week yet. That’s how it compounds.
Let’s dive a little bit into that first deal because that’s your “for real” deal. This is the first deal that you’ve ever done as a real estate investor with intention. Let’s dig into it and hit into the numbers and all that good stuff. You bought this thing in December 2019. What did you buy for?
It’s $273,000. It was 5 bed and 4 bath in a low suite with a full kitchen. That’s my criteria. I bought a 5 bed and 4 bath single-family home. It’s like 1980s construction. It’s what David Greene would call a luxury house hack. I didn’t do like you did. I could never do that.
You didn’t live behind the curtain.
I bought the house. It’s got downstairs with two bedrooms. It’s got upstairs with 3 beds, 2 baths. My mortgage was $1,620. I’ve got all the numbers written down somewhere else. You can reference those. Upstairs are rented out for $1,700 plus utilities. That ended up $1,900 total. I rented out one of the bedrooms downstairs for $700. I was cashflowing while I was living there. I was cashflowing net of $200 to $300, nothing sexy after CapEx and all that stuff. It was something while I was living there.
You’re living for free. You have to factor that into account. How much would you rent out that room for if you weren’t living there or the whole unit?
That house cashflows net over $1,000. The cashflow is $1,500 to $1,600 net.
When you’re going into your first house hack, maybe you’ll be cashflowing $200 or $300 a month, but you might be saving $1,000 a month in rent. You got to include that because a penny saved is a penny earned or however that quote goes. I suspect that’s why it became easier to make $25,000 in six months instead of a year. Is there something else that happened there, too?
My apartment before it was $1,700, and that was back in 2019. That was a nice apartment for 2019. Now that’s normal, but I was paying $1,700 for a one-bedroom. I may call it a $2,000 swing and take home cash. That’s massive.
That’s $25,000 right there.
It’s super easy after that. I bought it and got it done. I bought a house hack per year. I’ve got a total of four units. It’s too sexy. It prints out about $3,300 in cashflow. It’s enough to cover my fixed expenses.
That’s an amazing start to what is a long journey ahead. Getting back to this first house hack, did you do any construction or any rehab on this? Do you just buy this thing turnkey?
It’s about $12,000, but that’s turnkey. I had to go to the laundry room upstairs. My upstairs tenants and downstairs tenants do not interact. I have laundry downstairs and upstairs. I provide washers and dryers. In Atlanta, that’s normal. Everyone has a washer and dryer provided. I did that. That was $7,000, and I had to pay $5,000 to get the electrical redone for the entire house. It’s $12,000 overall.
Did you pull permits for this stuff?
Yes.You cannot be afraid to fail. Failure is part of the process. If you're not failing, you're not trying. Click To Tweet
I see in Denver quite a bit that people are adding laundry rooms and electrical. They’re not pulling permits. It’s because a lot of people in Denver who own these types of homes are great for house hacks. The people who were selling it to our house hacking clients are a blue-collar, do-it-yourself person. They rig these things ourselves. We’ve seen some pretty janky electrical at laundry hookups.
I didn’t even separately meter it. It needed to be rewired. It was something that we talked about at closing. I was like, “I got to do this.” We couldn’t get credit to close the deal. That was out of pocket.
It’s great that you did it the right way. You pulled the permit and did it right because that has come back to bite a lot of people. I’ve purchased many houses that have not been permitted, and it’s fine. When you start to pull permits, sometimes you got to go back and re-fix it. I’ve run into that issue. That’s number one. The thing is printing you about $1,000 to $2,000 a month in the first year, including your rent savings and all that. What happens in 2020?
I bought my second.
Did you have to wait a year?
I waited a year. I buy my second. It was $296,000. I got 5% down instead of 3% down. It’s still a conventional 2.5% interest rate. I’ll never be able to do a rate and term on that one. I’ll pull a home equity line of credit because that’s where I stopped. I haven’t bought another one since. I converted them to duplexes for all. Half of them are rented by the room. They’re duplexes and rented by the room.
I rented My upstairs units, or what I call my HGTV units, for 3 beds and 2 baths. The downstairs units are always like Frankenstein’s monster. It’s normally a couple of different people living down there together. They’re like, “Let’s throw it in.” I help out a lot of college buddies. When they’re coming and graduating, it’s my way of throwing the rope down. They come out of school, and trying to get on their feet. I’m like, “It’s an hour running thing.” They’re like, “Let’s reach out to Brian to see what he’s got coming up.” I’ve got the same people living in these units for years. I’ve never even turned a tenant.
Your strategy is to keep the 3 beds, 2 baths is real nice and do rent by the room downstairs. Is there any animosity, bad blood, or anything between the top and the bottom floors, with the top floor being too noisy? Have you dealt with that at all?
We don’t even know that they exist.
Do you have two separate furnaces? I always find the noise travels through the ducting.
Slightly. If you’re in an apartment, you’re getting noise from upstairs, downstairs, left, and right. I feel like it’s even better. Maybe you hear some footsteps upstairs sometimes, but you would hear that in an apartment, too. It’s never been an issue at all. The tenants that I get are aware of the situation. They’re also a little bit more conscious of keeping it down on both ends. We keep it down downstairs. We’re not going to ever be blaring music. It’s the same with them. It’s never been a problem. Everyone’s been quiet, and I screened my tenants well. They’re all super awesome people.
Why don’t we get into that a little bit? How do you screen your tenants? What are some of your criteria?
It’s the normal ways. I do like TurboTenant for background checks and normal stuff. I got my lease from BiggerPockets. This is the unsexy part. This is how I established my foundation. If I did the house hacks, that wouldn’t be enough for me to go travel. That was the first step. That’s like chapter one of the book. I was able to formulate being able to leave the job, which is the end of the story. For people reading, I was able to exit that corporate job in March 2022. I’m getting on a one-way flight, and I’m moving to Greece. I’m going to go travel around the world for free.
We’re going to get into your travel plans because that is a big thing. Using TurboTenant, you’re doing the background checks like no crazy murder violence stuff comes up. Honestly, you’re not accepting them, but do you accept small DUIs or stuff like that?
I didn’t have to. Back then, there was such a wide tenant pool. Why would I accept that? When you’re living on the property, you also have more leeway with who you can choose. You can have a choice while you’re living on the property. Whereas if it’s a pure rental, you have to take whoever qualifies. If you have a list of qualifications, if somebody pops in, you can’t be like, “No.” You have to be super stringent with your criteria. They met it. A Lockheed Martin engineer has been living up there with his family for years.
The house hack is your foundation. We say this all the time, “House hacking will make you wealthy, but it’s not going to make you extremely wealthy. It’s going to take a little bit of time, 4 or 5 years.” House hacking allows you to play to win rather than playing not to lose. You have that baseline. You’ve got your basic expenses covered. If you leave your job, you’re fine for a long time. You’ve got a lot of runways. What are you doing next? We’re in 2022. You quit your job. In house hacking, it gives you the confidence to quit your job. Is that right, or is there something else there, too?
There’s other stuff. It’s like a four-step framework that I’ve got established. To back up a bit, all of this is revolving around creating your best life. For people that are reading, I’m going to say this in the context of me traveling around the world. That is my best life. Your best life may be having more time to be able to go to your kid’s soccer practice on Thursdays.
When the job that you’re doing right now doesn’t allow for that, your best life is having freedom for that. For me, step one is to create that vivid vision of, “What is your best life? What would you do if money wasn’t an object?” That’s important to start with your vision. My vision that several years ago when I was buying that house hack was this that I’m living right now. That’s important. That’s step one.
Step two was to get that financial foundation, which we did with the house hack. I got the house hack, and I got the second house hack. That started printing out enough income to where I’m like, “My fixed expenses are about covered at this point.” I own my car, and my housing payments are completely eliminated. I’m like, “$5,000 will cover the necessities.” I had $3,500 coming in. Now when I move out of my bottom unit at my house now. That will increase this by an extra $1,000. That’d be $4,500. I’m running my car out on Turo full-time while I travel. That’s going to be an extra $500 to $1,000. I’m forecasting $500 on the low end. That puts me at $5,000.
Once you have your financial foundation for covering your fixed expenses, you start getting into the fun part where now you’re trying to figure out, “How do I cover my variable expenses?” This is where you develop a community, partnerships, and connections with people that are on the same journey as you, as well as mentors that are down the road from you, and accomplish what you want to accomplish. You take all these people at steps 3 and 4. You create partnerships with them and build businesses with them.
That’s what I did to be able to get to that next level because $5,000 is not enough for me to up and leave a job. What I did was I created my podcast, The Action Academy. Because of the community that I built around it, with Craig included, you were guest number two on the show. We were able to grow that to become a significant source of revenue.
That started burning out. I started making $5,000 right there and then $10,000. All of a sudden, I’m looking at $15,000 coming in per month. I’m like, “That was on top of the W-2. I can leave the W-2 now.” What I tell people is, “You don’t have to do a podcast. The podcast was my thing and my passion. I was super fired up about this, what I would do for free, and now, I get paid to do.” I tell people, “Find out what that thing is for you. Pursue that and try to do it as a team effort instead of going about it solo.” I’ll let you dissect that.
There’s a lot of good stuff here. This is like dissecting a lion or something here. I want to kick it back. You talked about your vision. Your vision was to go travel and do something that you loved. You’ve got your financial base with the house hacks, but you’re still not confident enough to quit your job until you start this little side hustle thing, which was the podcast. I need to ask, how did you decide a podcast? There are millions of things. There’s a lot of analysis by paralysis people can do because there are many shiny objects of how you can make money in this world these days. Why podcast, and how did you see that vision?
The first thing is you cannot be afraid to fail. Failure is part of the process. If you’re not failing, you’re not trying. Full transparency, if you’re not ever failing anything, you can’t remember the last time you failed at something, you’re not putting yourself out there. I went through probably 4 or 5 different things, try and fail. Outside of the house hacks, I was like, “I’m going to try to wholesale some houses. I hate that. I’m going to try to flip a house. I hate that. I’m going to buy a laundromat. I hate that. I’m going to buy a carwash. I don’t want to do it.” Every single thing kept failing. I was at a GoBundance event. I was golfing with Mike Ayala, and he was like, “You should try to do a podcast.”
I never even thought about it as a source of revenue. I wanted to do it. I did it to do it. By the time I left that trip and flew home from Colorado to Atlanta, the microphone was already at my door from Amazon Prime. Shout out to Jeff Bezos. I kicked it off and started going. I didn’t research it or google it. I just began it. Where do I host the podcast? Buzzsprout came up. I created an account. Zoom started doing it. I texted ten people, and you’re one of them. I said, “Do you want to come to the show?” Ten people said yes out of ten people that I asked, and I said, “I’ve got something here. That’s where it was born.”
I kept at my W-2 job. This is important. I didn’t be like, “I’ve got a podcast. I’m going to monetize and quit my job.” It doesn’t work like that. You have to find a way to provide massive value to a massive amount of people. That should be your core focus because that’s what helps accelerate your journey to financial freedom faster than you trying to do it yourself, an index fund, and save every nickel and dime yourself. If you join a community or you build a community, you find ways to provide value to other people. They will help you on your journey.
Fast forward several months of that podcast, I hit 10,000 downloads in several months. I’ve got like this community that’s supporting it. I’ve got affiliates that all of a sudden come out of the woodwork. They’re like, “We’ve got a bunch of people signing up because of your show. Let’s form a partnership here.” I was like, “Absolutely.” I didn’t even reach out to them.
All of a sudden, going into December 2021 is when that began, and January 2022 hit. I start doubling my show every single month. I’m nearing 50,000 downloads coming here in June 2022. It’s crazy how it doubles every month. That’s how it began. I didn’t come out the gate and expect level 10 results when I was at my level 1. I put the work in. I started producing content and releasing it every single week like clockwork without any results. Now, I’m seeing the snowball effect of that and that’s amplified every word. It doesn’t matter what your niche is. There are people that are restoring old wooden clocks on TikTok, making millions of dollars. You can do it.The number one tip to leaving the most impact from every networking event is to be the most interested person in the room, not the most interesting. Click To Tweet
How do you get through that stage? You start a new podcast. It’s exciting for the next week or two, but it’s your mom, your dad, and your brother listening to it for the first three months. How do you get through that stage of that until you’re like, “I’m impacting people’s lives, I’m changing people’s businesses, and I’m helping other people generate tons of revenue or whatever value you’re bringing to some different people?”
For me, this is my one thing. Like Gary Keller would say, “This is what I’m supposed to do.” I finally found my medium, which was this. This is what I’m supposed to do. Some people may like blogging, being on video more, doing TikTok, YouTube, or whatever have you. For me, it was podcasting because I immediately did it. As soon as the episodes started coming out, I started getting those phone calls. Here’s the easiest answer to your question. I started getting phone calls that said, “I listened to your show to support you because you’re a homie.” It’s good.
I didn’t take offense to it. They’re expecting it to be terrible. They’re like, “I listened to your episode with Craig. It’s seriously good. No offense.” I’m like, “None taken. Holy crap.” The sense of fulfillment that I got from that was higher and more from getting that phone call than it was for me winning the award after all the blood, sweat, and tears in Corporate America. That’s what made it worth it. I get hundreds of those messages every single week. It’s awesome. That’s what fires me up. I’m a power plant of energy because how could I not be?
That right there is what financial independence does for you. It allows you to almost live your ideal day every day. People think their ideal day is going to be to sit on the beach and drink margaritas or whatever. That’s not it. You need that sense of fulfillment. Your sense of fulfillment is clearly the podcast. Maybe now you’re still doing it 40 hours a week or so. If you scaled that back to 20 hours a week, I bet that you would still be fulfilled. You can go travel. You can go spend time with your girlfriend.
That’s great. You’re the poster child of what financial independence can do for every single person. You’ve gotten this podcast. You’ve got this platform. You’re starting to monetize it. People would reach out to you for some affiliate relationship. This isn’t just in the podcast that you can do this with. You can do this with blogging, books, webinars, courses, Instagram, and TikTok. There are many different ways and platforms out there. You chose the podcast medium. How do you set up these affiliate relationships? How does that work? Every person you send them, you get a little cut or what?
I do a flat rate percentage. It’s high-ticket stuff. I don’t have a link that says, “Sign up for this $10,000 mastermind.” I say, “Book a call with me to learn more.” If you’re accredited, I talked to them and if it makes sense after talking to me. An important caveat that you made there is I won’t have any affiliates that I don’t pay for myself.
That’s a point of integrity that every content creator should have to a degree. Now I don’t feel like I have to sell anyone on anything. It’s something that I do. I can simply share my story and be like, “That’s it.” I get to form awesome relationships. That’s 30% of my week forming awesome relationships with awesome people, telling them about what helped me that could possibly help them.
I had this mistake in my head the whole time then. Do you talk to almost every person that you’re referring out?
That’s mind-blowing to me. I’m like, “What?” I thought you had a link on your site.
Do you think I’m making $10,000 a month? The credit that you give me is so good.
You are a legend, but that’s awesome.
It’s my favorite thing that I do. GoBundance, for instance. You’re telling me that you’ve got a guy that wants to join GoBundance. He or she is a rock star. Maybe somebody will click a link and be like, “Brian’s episode with Craig was good. I want to join GoBundance and drop $10,000 a day.” I could form a friendship with them and a relationship. Everyone wins because now I’ve got a brand new friend. I’ve had a quarter of these people that are awesome that they end up coming on my show.
Imagine the joy that I have waking up every single day, knowing that my day is spent either podcasting, talking to people about coaching, talking to people about GoBundance, or talking to people about all this different stuff. That’s my dream life. I’m going to bake, go to Greece, and travel on top of that to craft this life that I’ve had on my vision board for several years. Now, I’ve made it a reality.
At the end of the day, the goal is to do what you want when you want with who you want. The goal is not to stop working because that’s the page that BiggerPockets began with the whole house hack financial freedom thing. Fast forward several years, people are hitting it, and they are lost. This is where I want to pick up chapter two. “I’ll show you how to do it. It’s easier than ever.” Chapter two, what business do you want to build that fires you up that will make all of this fulfilled and worth it? That’s my bread and butter. That’s what freedom fires me up.
You’re an inspiration. I love that you always take advantage of building a relationship. You’re constantly depositing into your relationship bank accounts. You’ve got thousands of relationship bank accounts between GoBundance and whatever else you’re involved in and the people that you’re talking to. I love that. If you’re reading this, think about all the people that you’re coming into contact with that you’re not making that deep connection with. How do you make a deep connection with them?
Brian, you facilitated it with your podcast, and you can invite people onto your podcast. That’s how you probably get a deeper connection. That’s how people remember you. For readers like that, I’m talking to you now. What can you do to get in front of 3, 5, to 7 people every single week and have that add up over the course of a year? You’ll be amazed at how your life changes get in front of those people.
Do you want the number one tip to be the most likable person in the room? The number one tip to weaving the most impact from any networking event that you go to and to be the most memorable person in the room is this phrase and this quote, “The goal is to be the most interested person in the room, not the most interesting.”
What do you mean by that? I like that, but how do you be more interested or interesting?
If you try to be the most interesting person in the room, maybe you win that battle 5% to 10%. Maybe you’ve got the most units or the most cashflow, you’re the tallest person, most handsome, and most beautiful. Maybe 5% of the time, people will be like, “This dude or girl is pretty interesting.” You have to sell yourself. You have to put all this energy and effort into that.
That’s not memorable. What’s memorable is being the most interested. Going up to all these other people and being like, “I don’t even matter. I’m here to learn what you’re doing. What’s your story? What have you got going on?” They remember you. You make them feel good because somebody is listening to them and asking them about them with no agenda. It’s like classic how to win friends and influence people.
You said another thing right there in there that I’m not even sure that you knew that you said. You make them feel good. People don’t remember what you say or how you look. The only thing they remember is how you make them feel. You make people feel good. You make them feel like they’re on top of the world. People are going to love you.
Another thing, Brian, that you do well is you’re not afraid to ask people for favors. Ben Franklin said, “The quickest way to make a friend or the best way to make a friend is to ask them for a favor.” Once you ask someone for a favor, people want to feel like they’re giving value. You enable people to give value to you, which makes them feel like we’re friends. You get something out of it, too. That’s a mental block that I’ve had that you’ve inspired me to try to keep going onwards.
That’s crazy that you say that because that’s my biggest bugaboo. I hate asking for help. I can’t stand it. Because I have a podcast and talk about this constantly, I have to practice what I preach. I can’t be a false prophet. The audio has to match the video. I tell people all the time to ask for help. Yet, I’m never asking for help.
I released that book. I’ve got a 30-page guide. It’s from W2ToWorldTravel.com. It’s a 30-page guide on how we left corporate and now we’re traveling the world. I did a book launch, and I texted 300 people. I said, “Do you want to be a part of the launch team for this pretty eBook that I’m doing because I was going to charge for it? I decided to give it away for free instead.” Out of those 300 people, 290 posted it. You were one of them.
That was a super cool moment for me because I’m against asking for help. Everyone was happy to help because little did I know that makes sense. They’re like, “I listen to your podcast every single week, five days out of the week. You provided massive value to me, and never asked for anything.” It’s because I lead with a value that everyone’s able to do that.
If it’s a person that’s not leading with any value, you’re going to be an askhole. You’re going to be asking for a bunch of stuff. You’re like, “It’s a one-way relationship here.” That was a cool realization because everyone was not only willing to help, they were excited and happy to help. That made me more juiced up, and get on a plane to go to Greece.
I always like to think of relationships like bank accounts, which is weird, maybe. I’m a weirdo. You’re making deposits, or you’re making withdrawals. Every time you make a podcast and people are listening, you’re making deposits. What’s the point of a bank account if you can’t ever make a withdrawal? You got to allow other people to make deposits into that bank account with you. If all I’m doing is extracting value from you and I can’t give anything to you, that doesn’t feel right to me either.The ultimate currency is relationships. Click To Tweet
It’s hard to accept gifts sometimes because you feel like you may owe them something. Have you read the book, The Go-Giver? That book, which I love, talks about when someone gives you something, by denying them, you’re denying them the idea of gifting. It is something that makes everybody feel good. Don’t be afraid to ask for things. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask because you never know who’s going to say yes or no.
All of this is a team sport. I put in the book, too, “Everyone tries to do this themselves. Especially the people that are trying to save their way as opposed to earn their way to financial freedom.” They’re almost reclusive. They’re like, “I can’t go out and do anything because I’ve got to save my money. I’m eating at home every meal. I don’t want to go out to eat.”
What I invite people to do is to put all of their energy and effort truly into the relationships because, at the end of the day, controvert like a hot take. I don’t necessarily care about money that much, ironically, which allows me to make a lot more of it by default, which is weird. You would be in GoBundance and know this to be true.
Money is an exchange of energy. You have people that are either attracting or repelling it based on how they’re operating in their business in their life. I’m a step above money. People say that time is the ultimate currency. I take that a step further, and say, “Cool. I get it.” If someone has 100 million there, he will pay all of his money to be twenty again. The ultimate currency and value are relationships. If you have all the money in the world, you will spend it to get your time back to do what you want when you want with who you want.
I’m having to bankroll a bit of my girlfriend’s trip to go with me to Greece because she’s got a baby business, too. She couldn’t necessarily afford it. I was like, “Okay.” I’ve got a huge suite because it’s been on my bucket list. I spent money on it. I was like, “I’ve got this huge suite that’s going to be overlooking the water at Mykonos. You have that swim-out cave pool. It’s been on my bucket list and vision board for years. You swim out, and you see the ocean in the sunset.” I don’t want to do that by myself. I had the money and time. I’m like, “Now I have both of those. I don’t even care.” That’s the who. Joe Rogan is who everyone aspires to be. I don’t think he cares about the money. That’s why he’s got it. He cares about friendships.
Walter Isaacson’s book, Steve Jobs, mentioned that Steve Jobs became wealthy because he was pretty poor growing up. He was a hippy-dippy. He never cared about money. He got super rich and still never cared about money. He wants to provide value. That’s what you’re doing. That’s what anybody’s got any type of money is doing. If you’re chasing money, you’re going to live a miserable life. No one cares about the money. It’s all about relationships and time.
Can I offer a quotable for your podcast?
Craig, what happens when you chase something?
It runs away. If you’re chasing money, freedom, and happiness, it runs away. The Gap and The Gain is an awesome book that everyone should read by Ben Hardy. He says, “You shouldn’t pursue happiness because that makes happiness something that’s always right around the corner and tomorrow. You should simply be happy.” I’m not trying to chase money and freedom. I attract money and freedom.
You have money and freedom. It’s like that. You do put that in your vision board. I feel like you do all of those little things that add up. I got a vision board. On the background of my phone, I’ve had the bucket list family since 2015 on the back of my phone. My wife and I have done all those things. We’ve done travel. It’s all coming true. I don’t have the kids yet. When you put stuff in front of you that you want to do, It’s amazing how your subconscious mind kicks it. It doesn’t even make sense. I can’t even explain it, but it works.
I don’t know what’s more frustrating, being in the position where you’re like, “Everything Brian and Craig are saying is complete bull crap,” not believing any of it, or being on the back end of it, seeing that it was all more true than you’ve ever believed, and saying, “Why did I not do this sooner?” That’s what you and I are doing now. I’m like, “You’re telling me if I journal and write this in my journal and take massive action. All of a sudden, I get these handouts that help.
I want to say one thing about this because I haven’t mentioned it in a long time. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it on this show. In 2016, right before I bought real estate, I was listening to BiggerPockets and getting all into it. I ended up buying real estate. I was living in San Francisco at the time. I’m working the job that I hated. I wrote on my board, “I will buy a multifamily property under $400,000 by June of 2017.” I was in San Francisco. It’s next to impossible in there. This was November of 2016 when I wrote this on my board.
By June of 2017, I had done a one-month trip to South America. I quit my job. I moved to Denver. I got a job in BiggerPockets. On June 17th, 2017, I closed a duplex for $385,000. So much stuff had to go right for me to hit that. That was the moment where I was like, “This works.” I can’t explain it, but it works. There are many actions out in this episode, but there’s one. Write that one thing you want in the next several months. Buy a $30 whiteboard on Amazon. Buy the markers and deal with them. Put that thing above your bed. See your sheet first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. Let us know if you hit that.
You’ll be surprised because this is my five-year vivid vision to do this trip. I wanted to do it when I was 29 or 30. I’m 27 now in 2022. I accomplished it in several years.
This episode has been amazing. We’re going to have to head into the final part of the show. Before we do it, do you have any one last words of wisdom for the readers?
If I were to leave you with a quote, my quote would be, “The goal is not the financial freedom necessarily. The goal is not wealth, the net worth, or to be a millionaire. The goal is to simply build a life that you don’t need to vacation from.”
Are you there?
Every day is the same. On Saturday and Sunday, I wake up and drink my coffee, the same thing that I’m doing right now. Some people may be like, “That sounds like the worst thing ever.” It’s not when it’s something that you truly love doing. I’m like, “I can’t believe not doing this. I can’t wait to wake up every day.”
I lose track of the days all the time, and that’s to my detriment most of the time. When I was with Jason, one thing that I did was the ideal day exercise, and “How do you live the ideal day?” I’m starting to do that. I was like, “I’m living my ideal day. This is amazing.” We are going to head into the final four. Brian, what book are you reading right now?
The Surrender Experiment. Have you ever heard of it?
I’m reading two simultaneously now. I got to Kindle because I’m about to travel. It was the first time with the Kindle when that freaking rocks. I’m reading $100M Offers by Alex Hormozi, which is like the Bible for business. I’m reading that, and I’m also reading The Surrender Experiment. It’s alluding to what we were talking about before. It’s this guy that is a super hippie dude that never cared about anything ever.
He came to a point in his life when he was meditating and getting religious. He was like, “Life tends to work out if you allow life to flow.” It’s like Jason says with alignment. He’s like, “Instead of viewing these situations in the frame of something that I like or dislike, it’s raining outside. I hate that. I view them as simply as what life is presenting and I flow with it. I’m going to surrender to life, and it will lead me by default to be even more successful because I’m going to surrender to it.”
That guy ended up creating a company worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It became massively successful. It’s almost like the movie Forrest Gump, where he happens to be in, and he’s like, “I’ll do that.” He’s having this amazing life. That’s what I’m reading as I’m about to go do this trip. My word is surrender because I’m not going to control everything.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Play a team sport. Stop thinking about me. Start thinking about we. Whenever I started removing myself from the mindset of, “How can I make the most money? How can I be the most successful?” and started being like, “How can I provide the most value to the most amount of people every day?” that’s when I took off. That’s why I’m not afraid anymore. There are levers that figure that comes up in doubt, which is human and normal. I go back to my core and my default. If I’m truly out here to help as many people as possible, there’s no way to fail at that.What happens when you chase something? It runs away from you. Don't chase money, and don't chase freedom. Attract money and attract freedom. Click To Tweet
Third question, what is your why?
My why is to live a life I don’t want to take a vacation from. It will change as time goes on. I’ll have kids and family, but that was my biggest struggle. When I was young, I was making a lot of money but I didn’t have a why. What does a why even look like? I don’t have kids. I don’t have a wife. I was single at the time. I’m like, “Why not go to Miami?” There was nothing else for me to do. Now, my why is that.
For now, my why is to go travel, be able to wake up every day, and choose where I want to be. That’s going to be huge because I’m spending in Atlanta. I could do what I want when I want with who I want, but not where I want. When I’m traveling, I’m going to be fully nomadic. If someplace is too hot and humid, and I’m not loving it, I move on to another place. I’m going to have to try the trifecta.
Fourth question, what do you think is the worst thing that a person can put on their bio on a dating app?
I’m trying to think about what I used to have on my bios on dating apps. I was about to make the joke and say your Greek letters, but now that would honestly probably help in college. The worst thing that you put on your bio on a dating app would be one of those voice notes. They got voice notes now. You get a voice note. It was a joke where you completely fell flat like you’re not going to get anything. I’ve been out of the game for several years now.
Where can people find out more about you? They got The Action Academy Podcast. Anywhere else?
That’s going to be the place that provides the most value to you. That is W2ToWorldTravel.com. That’s going to be the free guide of 30 pages. That also puts you on an email list. I’ve got a newsletter that goes out every Thursday. That covers all the top areas that we covered in the podcast for the week in five minutes. That’s awesome and well received. @ActionAcademyPodcasts and @BrianLuebben on Instagram. Are you going to get that much value out of adding me on Instagram? Probably not, but that will help you.
You’ve dropped tons of gold here that we’re going to pick up. Hopefully, there’ll be it. There are a lot of action items in this episode. Take those action items. Brian, thanks so much for coming on. It’s been an honor and pleasure. Have fun on your travels.
My ultimate goal and challenge are to have at least ten other people take a trip like this. Follow me to get inspired, to take the trip, too, and let me know about it.
Maybe we’ll meet you in Greece.
Let’s do it.
Let’s talk soon.
That was Brian Luebben. He is an inspiration. I like his story of getting a couple of house hacks. He did not like house hacking. I don’t know if he said that on the show, but he does not like to house hack. He doesn’t even like real estate that much. It does not excite him. What does excite him about real estate is that it gave him $3,000, $4,000 to $5,000 of passive income.
It allowed him to be comfortable enough to quit his high-paying W-2 job to go ahead and do something that he’s truly passionate about, and that’s his podcast. It’s where he’s inspiring tens of thousands and soon to be hundreds of thousands and likely millions of people to be better at life, have better relationships, be healthier, and be better at business.
He interviews these high performers. It’s what’s interesting to him, and it gets them going. You can see how excited he is about it. He’s living his dream life every single day. I want you guys all, if you’re not already there, to make sure that you get there. The first step of that process is to get a few house hacks. Get 1, 2, or 3 house hacks. You get that financial independence. If you want to go travel for a year, go do it. At some point, you’re probably going to want to come back and start feeling fulfilled. You can do whatever you want. He illustrates that perfectly.
If you liked this show and this episode, please share this with your friends, friend’s friends, family members, and all that stuff. Give us a like, rating, and review on podcasts. It’s super helpful to help us out again. Shoot me a DM on Instagram. I’m @TheFIGuy. I would love to hear from you. I’d love to hear what you think of the show. Thanks again so much for reading, and we’ll talk to you all next time.
- Brian Luebben
- BiggerPockets Podcast
- The Action Academy
- Guest Number Two – The Action Academy Podcast Episode
- The Go-Giver
- Steve Jobs biography – Amazon
- The Gap and The Gain
- The Surrender Experiment
- $100M Offers
- @ActionAcademyPodcasts – Instagram
- @BrianLuebben – Instagram
- @TheFIGuy – Instagram
About Brian Luebben
Brian Luebben is a Real Estate Investor, Podcaster, and Entrepreneur out of Atlanta, Georgia. While in college he built his first company (GreekBeats DJ/Entertainment) that allowed him to graduate debt-free. Shortly after graduating – he made it to the top of a Fortune 500 Company in their Sales Organization, only to realize quickly that “Retirement at 65” and corporate life simply was not for him. He now runs a successful podcast “The Action Academy” where he talks to seven, eight, and nine figure entrepreneurs on how to earn freedom in life and business. Through the podcast and cash-flowing real estate (via his company Sexton Property Group) he now has generated enough revenue via remote income sources to earn him Financial Independence to do what he wants, when he wants, with who he wants.
His new mission is to travel around the world for one year, starting July ’22.