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BiggerPockets Podcast 512: From Losing $150k at the Blackjack Table to 7-Figure Profits in Real Estate

BiggerPockets Podcast 512: From Losing $150k at the Blackjack Table to 7-Figure Profits in Real Estate

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Back in 2004, Jude Bernard was sitting at a blackjack table in Vegas. This wasn’t his first game of the day, nor his second, or even his third. Jude had been sitting at that blackjack table for thirty hours straight. When the final game ended, he walked away, $150,000 poorer than he started. Jude then found the closest tattoo parlor, walked in, and got the phrase “never again” tattooed on his hand as a testament to his mistake.

Now, Jude runs a rental and flipping empire, settling for no less than seven-figure profits on his fix and flips. He also runs The Brooklyn Bank, a non-profit designed to help economically empower people of color in New York City. Through his earlier gambling mistakes, Jude realized that no matter what, the “house” always wins. So, he searched for a way that he could become the “house” in his environment, and the best way was through real estate investing.

Jude has built a very strong foundation for his real estate investing through taking calculated risks, nurturing his relationships, and letting his fears fuel his fire.

Jude is currently raising money to help the people of Haiti through their most recent natural disaster. Brandon and David have both pledged $5,000 each. For full details please contact [email protected]

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Brandon:
This is the BiggerPockets Podcast, show 512.

Jude:
And one thing you cannot do is just have a defeatist attitude. Because once you have a defeatist attitude, you’re defeated. I will not lose. At the end of the day, I may lose this hand, I may lose this round, I may lose this battle, but at the end of the day, every day when the sun comes up, the world resets and I get a second chance until the day that I die.

Speaker 3:
You’re listening to BiggerPockets Radio, simplifying real estate for investors, large and small. If you’re here looking to learn about real estate investing without all the hype, you are in the right place. Stay tuned and be sure to join the millions of others who have benefited from BiggerPockets.com, your home for real estate investing online.

Brandon:
What’s going on, everyone? It’s Brandon Turner, host of the BiggerPockets Podcast, here with my co-host, Mr. David Jump Shot Green. What’s up, man? How you doing?

David:
Hey, hey. I haven’t heard that for a long time, but I like that nickname.

Brandon:
I was going to go with like 21 Green, and that will explain in the show why I would say that. But I thought Jump Shot sounded a little more awesome because I heard you had a killer jump shot.

David:
We talk a little about blackjack.

Brandon:
We do talk about-

David:
But what we never talked about was greenjack.

Brandon:
… Is that a thing? That sounds like a alcoholic drink? “Come on over my club, we’ll get you some greenjack.” Anyway, today’s show is not about greenjack, it’s about … Well, it’s about black jacket. It’s a little bit about basketball. It’s a whole lot about real estate investing and a whole lot about giving back, and financial literacy, financial abundance with an amazing guest. So we’ll bring that all up in just a moment. But first, let’s get to today’s quick tip.

Brandon:
All right, I’m going to say the quick tip now, but it’s not going to make full sense until later, and that is, if you want to come hang out with me in Hawaii, we’re doing a fundraiser for a non-profit called The Brooklyn Bank. You’re going to hear more about that later on the show. But if you donate to The Brooklyn Bank, and you’ll hear about how and all that later in the show, but actually I don’t even think I say in this show, but basically the idea is if you give five grand, I’m going to open up either my vacation rental or my home to you for a week to come out here and learn, hang out, do some meals together and just help you out in your life.

Brandon:
Anyway, all that more to come later. But if you want to know more information about that, just go to the show notes page at BiggerPockets.com/show514, so S-H-O-W 5-1-4. We’ll put information there about this fundraiser and how you can donate and how you can come hang out with me in Hawaii. So that’s the quick tip that’s not so quick, but there you go. David, anything you want to add on that?

David:
No, I just want to add that I think my favorite part of today’s guest is how they built momentum for themselves, getting small wins until they got to the point they could be very picky about which opportunities they took on. And so if you are going to go hang out with Brandon, my advice would be that’s what you should be picking Brandon’s brain about. How did Brandon put himself in a position where he had enough small wins that he could quit his job, he could focus on something bigger, which is portfolio.

David:
And then Brandon, you’ve done an amazing job at taking every win you had and building it into something a little bit bigger, a little bit better, sort of the domino theory. You kept that string of dominoes running. So whoever it is that does decide they want to go hang out with Brandon and donate to this charity, that’s what I think people should be talking to you about.

Brandon:
Awesome. Well, if you have any questions on that and want some details, just shoot me a DM on Instagram. It’s BeardyBrandon on Instagram, and David Green is DavidGreen24 on Instagram. But yeah, shoot me a DM if you have any more questions about it. But other than that, we’ll just plan on having a bunch of you come out and hang out with me sometime soon. Our guest today is Jude Bernard. And Jude runs a real estate business, but also a non-profit called The Brooklyn Bank. You’re going to hear about both that today.

Brandon:
He got started a long time ago. He’s been in the business since like the late ’90s, went through a tumultuous. Is that a word tumultuous? I don’t know. That’s a word somewhere in there, right? I don’t know. I still think I got it wrong. Time during the recession. You’re going to learn about the lessons he learned during the Great Recession, ’07, ’08. Some of the things he did to stay afloat during that time, which I think definitely applies to today and what he is doing today to create seven figure upsides. You’re going to hear more about that and more. Without further ado, let’s get to our interview with Jude Bernard. All right, Jude. Welcome to the BiggerPockets Podcast, man. It’s really good to have here.

Jude:
Hey, Brandon. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for having me. Pleasure.

Brandon:
Thanks, man. Let’s get into your story a little bit. I mean, you’re in real estate now, but were you always in that? I mean, have you always been kind of financially literate, super financial savvy guy, or is it something that developed over time?

Jude:
No, far from it. Far from it. I think I kind of learned the hard way over the years. And I kind of got into real estate rather early. I’ve been in real estate since ’97. October 31st, 1997 is when I purchased my first property. I was working at Verizon. I was a telephone man. And it’s a real funny story how I got into real estate. I had a girlfriend at the time, and I was just a telephone man doing my thing, going to work and stuff like that, and paycheck to paycheck.

Jude:
I remember one time she asked me to purchase her a CD, and I was like, “All right, sure. I’ll get it for you on Thursday when I get paid,” and she literally ripped me, she was like, “I have to wait till the end of the week to get a CD, like a $20 CD just like the other?” And that kind of inspired me to do more. Based on that, while I was working at Verizon, I was also working on my MBA at the same time. I had thoughts about going upper management and stuff like that. And I took some student loans out and I purchased my first property with that. And that’s kind of how I got started, and it’s been one after another since then.

Brandon:
Where was that at?

Jude:
Brooklyn. No, excuse me. Excuse me. The first property that I purchased was actually in Queens. I purchased a two-family house South side Jamaica, Queens. The whole thing cost me about $12,000 to get into. It was a 3% down FHA, is how I got into it. I was into it for about 15,000, which I used my student loan money to get into it for. It was worth about 150. And a few months later I ended up buying the building next door, and that’s kind of how it started.

Brandon:
All right. I’m assuming you lived in one of those units out of the two and rented the other one out?

Jude:
I had the intention of moving into it, just things didn’t work out that way. I was still living at home with my mom at the time. So it was kind of cool because I was supposed to move out, move into it, but at the very last minute, I just couldn’t see myself moving into South side Jamaica, Queens.

Brandon:
I mean, I don’t even know that much about New York City and the surrounding burrows. Is that what we call them? Is that where all your stuff’s at today, and is that what your-

Jude:
Yeah, everything is in New York right now. I dabbled for a bit. I dabbled around with the Baltimore, Upstate New York, Florida Market, but then I just started to consolidate and just work on Brooklyn alone for the most part.

Brandon:
… And why is that? I mean, I think it’s smart to consolidate like that, but why?

Jude:
Just a bang for my buck. I was lucky enough to get into real estate very early. A lot of these brownstones that I purchased for &300,000 or $400,000 back in late ’90s or 2000s, they’re now worth like some of them between $2.5 million and $4 million. It really doesn’t make sense for me to go chase money out of state or chase money elsewhere when I could just work on maximizing every dollar I could get out of my current market.

Brandon:
Yeah. All right. Well, let’s keep going on your story. So you bought this first property, you said then later you bought the building next door. Where’d you go from there?

Jude:
From there, I was still living at my mom’s house. So after I moved out of my mom’s house, I ended up buying another two-family house in Rosedale, Queens, which was at a much nicer neighborhood. And I rented one of the units to a family upstairs, and I ended up moving three of my frat brothers in the other unit. So this one house I was making like $2,500 on this house and living for free. At that point I never even heard of house hacking, but apparently that’s what I was doing.

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s cool. Do you have any advice for people who are maybe in your shoes where you were back then saying, “I want to get started, but I live in New York City. I live in LA. I live in Baltimore,” whatever, kind of a more expensive market? You still recommend that?

Jude:
Yeah, because there’s always opportunities. Right? There’s always deals. Just the other day, well, not just the other day, last year I ended up purchasing a property that was worth close to $4 million and I paid 2 million for it. And yeah, you think that’s a steal, but the guy who sold this to me bought it for $800,000 like a week before.

Brandon:
Oh, dang! Dang!

Jude:
Yeah. So I thought I was getting over. But there’s always deals to be had. So as long as you put into work into looking for it, there’s always something to be had. And also you could always partner up, even if you don’t have the money to buy something yourself in those markets, you can always partner up with people, and it’s a better deal than trying to buy a little piece of something somewhere else. I always say I’d rather have 50% of a million dollars than 100% of $100,000.

David:
Well, a lot of people struggle with the fact, I think, that they don’t know how to get off the ground. And really that’s the hardest part of any business, is just getting some momentum. Once you get to the point you’re at now, Jude, you’re getting opportunities to buy something for 2 million that’s worth 4 million, right? And as people listen, I think there’s frustration, “Well, how do I meet that guy?” Well, you don’t start with that guy, right? You got to get some momentum going.

David:
And I think one of the best things that I’ve heard in this podcast so far was you saying, “I rented this out to my frat brothers.” What you’re really saying is I took the resources I had available and I made something. I looked at what was in the fridge and I made something edible out of it. And out of that, I got enough energy that I could go to the store, and I could get more ingredients and I could make better stuff, and you slowly built it up.

David:
Can you give some advice for the people that are in that scrap mode that are trying to get that first deal put together, that they don’t have the credibility to bring in a partner yet, but they do have resources that maybe they’re just not recognizing right now?

Jude:
Well, one of the most important things I think people need to do is build relationships with everyone. Again, I’m from Brooklyn, the ungentrified part of Brooklyn, where I’ve gotten leads from the neighborhood drug user about who was selling their house. So everybody’s an asset. So that’s one thing, right? And second thing that you need to do is you need to educate yourself in knowing how to get these deals. There are so many different outlets that people just don’t do.

Jude:
They don’t make relationships with divorce attorneys. They don’t make relationship with state attorneys. They don’t go down to the foreclosure office and stuff like that. They start to get frustrated very early on and then they lose steam. But just like anything else, you never hit the home run the first time at bat, you just got to keep going and going and going and going.

David:
I think that’s really wise. There’s people that have a relationship with the mailman and don’t realize that he knows which properties or she knows which properties are run down. There’s people you’re working out with at the gym that need a spotter, and they don’t know how to lift the weights and they run a hedge fund. Or maybe you don’t go to that gym, but they have an influential position where they come across people that have these deals. And we never think about it because it’s not something you heard somebody else say. Do you have anything you can add on that?

Jude:
I actually bought a property down the block from one of my properties that I didn’t even know was on the market from a lead that I got from the mailman. He’s like, “Hey, did you know that 198 is going on the market?” I said “Really?” Yeah. Then he came to the long-winded story about the guy is moving to Florida. He’s taking his wife and this, that, the other, but all I heard was like, “198 is going on the market,” and I was able to to get that. I was basically able to steal that deal before it even got listed. And this was just from a tip. This was just from a tip from the mailman. One of the biggest deals I ever did came from a tip from my old boss at the job I got fired from.

Brandon:
That’s funny. Anybody and everybody could be a good source of leads, it’s just training your mind to have that mindset of not like, “How can I use people?” “How can the people around me benefit me and how can I benefit them?” Just having this open idea of like everybody’s better off when we communicate what our needs are and what we are looking for. And you never know what someone’s going to do. We did this thing out in Maui called the Maui Masterclass, and I bring out like 20 or 30 investors.

Brandon:
Jude, I’d love to have you someday come out. And we just talk about like, “This is what we’re working on. This is what we need.” And I actually do this segment now every time where I have each person in the room go around and say, “This is what I want right now. This is what I need.” Not like, “I’m looking for leads,” but “Specifically, what is it that you want that somebody in this room may be able to bring you?”

Brandon:
And it’s amazing every time when people start to verbalize that, like, “Well, actually, I’m looking for a CPA.” Somebody in the room is like, “I got an amazing guy,” and then somebody else is like, “Yeah, I’m looking for somebody to help me raise money in apartment deal,” and they’re like, “I’m the best apartment deal raiser money in the world. I’m looking for somebody who can bring the whatever.” When you start putting it out there to the world what you’re looking for, people-

Jude:
A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.

Brandon:
… That’s good.

Jude:
You know?

Brandon:
Yeah.

Jude:
Bottom line, a closed mouth don’t get fed. If people don’t know what you’re doing, there’s no way that they could help you. I’m on IG. I’ve spent zero money on advertising. I don’t do anything like that. 100% of my deals come from relationships, especially in the market like New York where I can’t outhustle, I can’t, excuse me, I can’t outmoney the hedge funds. For me to get the deal, I’m going to have to play my game, which is the relationship game.

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s really good. Well, let’s go back to your story a little bit and catch up on the last couple decade. So late ’90s you get into this thing, you start doing some house hack and stuff. What comes next? Where did your business go?

Jude:
Well, I was still working at Verizon. I was there for like five years after I started, and I’m building prop. I’m buying, and I’m buying and I’m buying. And what ends up happening is that my business starts to outperform my paycheck. So it’s no longer a priority and one day I get the ax. I get the termination letter and I end up framing that letter. It’s still sitting in my office to this day. And it was real cool, because that’s kind of the kick that I needed in the rear, because sometimes we get so scared of being out on our own that we’re ready to fly, but we still want the safety of the nest.

Jude:
Funny enough, I sent all the managers bottles of champagne when I got fired. “I thank this one for being patient. I thank that one for covering for me. I thank this one for this.” And the one who fired me, I said, “Hey, thank you for being the guy that you are, because if it wasn’t for people like you, I’d probably be content working for the rest of my life. But you being the kind of guy that you are made me want to do better for myself.”

David:
First off, you’re totally the relationship guy. You’re sending bottles of champagne to your former employer and the different bosses that you had. That’s a great lesson anyone could take out of this, is you literally took a negative thing and forced it to become positive with the right attitude and mindset. And the second thing, Brandon and I have been talking about this a lot. We have their podcast coming out where we talk about having no bad days.

David:
And you basically took what every man’s probably biggest fear is, is not being good enough. “I got fired for my job because they didn’t think that I could cut it,” which all of us live in fear of being exposed in that way all the time. And you forced that to become a positive thing and you said, “Well, it’s because I was too good for this opportunity that this happened. I’m going to go make something even bigger.” And I wish that you could just put that in a pill and give it to people, because so many people need to understand that perspective and just this is great that you’re sharing how you did that.

Jude:
It’s scary stuff. But I was in Greece the other day, in Santorini, there’s a cliff that everybody was jumping off of, right? And I’m afraid of Heights. I get six feet off in the air and I start to … My stomach melts up and I get a cold sweat and my heart starts to race. Right? And so nonetheless, I climbed the cliff and I jump off, and my boys are like, “Yo, you’re scared of heights. What are you doing?” And I was just like, “I’m more afraid of not knowing what it feels like to fly than I am of this discomfort, this temporary discomfort.” Because I’m going to go home and I’m going to think about, “Hey, I wonder what it would have been like to jump off that cliff,” so I take that away.

Brandon:
There’s a movie out there called Onward. It’s like a Disney movie about like trolls and, I don’t know, dwarfs and whatever. But there’s a scene in there where the two characters have to cross this ravine, basically. This big like, this ravine. And it’s an invisible bridge. And the one guy is like, “Well, I mean, how do I know it’s there? It’s an invisible bridge,” and he is like, “Oh, it’s fine. Just go.” And he’s like, “I’m not going to go across this cliff, jump off this cliff and just hope that there’s a bridge there.” And he said, “Okay, fine. Tie a rope to you.”

Brandon:
So they tie a rope to them, and he steps a foot and he steps on the invisible bridge. And he steps a little bit further and he’s like, “Hey, I got this.” And he is walking across this bridge. And he knows that because he’s got this rope on him that if he falls he’s okay. Well, about halfway across this big ravine, the rope slips off of him and unties and just disappears. He doesn’t realize it, so he keeps walking across this bridge. And he gets almost to the end then he realizes the rope is gone. He freaks out, but he makes it. He lands on the other end. Spoiler alert there.

Brandon:
But then he says, and the two get across the bridge where they get across, and he says like, “I didn’t have the rope. I needed that rope. I needed that to get across.” And his friend looks at him, or his brother looks at him and said, “Did you though?” And oftentimes that rope, right, is like our jobs. When I hear your story of like we have this job that maybe we cling to for a long time because we feel like we need it, because it is terrifying because the bridge to where we’re going is invisible. We cannot see it, so we feel like we need that. I’m not saying everybody needs to go and quit their job, but I just love that question, is, “Did you?”

Jude:
The biggest thing I hear from people who are afraid to leave their jobs … I have fellow entrepreneurs that I work with and they make tons of money, and it’s like, “No, I need the insurance. I need the insurance,” and I’m just like, “You know one deal could cover your insurance for a year. One deal could cover your insurance for a decade.” Sometimes you just got to put it into perspective. And one of the craziest things I think about, especially when you bring up a Disney movie, I’m thinking about Dumbo, right?

Jude:
These little elephants, what they do, when they’re little elephants, they tie them to stakes, and they can’t move with the stake on it. But then they become these big behemoth monsters that could easily without flinching rip the stake out, but they don’t do it because it’s embedded in their brain that, “Oh, I have this shackle on me and it’s holding me back.” And most of the time it’s just in your mind.

David:
Yeah, that’s a really good point. I always like that analogy of the elephant and what it can pull, so cool, man. Well, let’s get to the rest of your story a little bit. And so I like to talk to guys who have been in the industry for a long time. I want to see how you got through the recession. But first, I was told to ask you a question here, our producers said, “Ask him about Vegas.” What’s Vegas?

Jude:
I am a recovering … Well, you know what, the truth is even once you’re a gambler, you’re always a gambler. I just don’t do it anymore. I’m a recovering gambler. I used to go hardbody. The first two properties that I owned I actually had to sell them to cover gambling debts. And I was sharing with Eric about how bad it was that one time when I was on my way home, I got stuck in traffic and I was right in front of the airport. And as a gambler, when you’re stuck in traffic for like half an hour and the airport is right there, the first thing that comes to your mind is, “I might as well go to go Vegas,” right? That’s common sense.

Jude:
Yeah, it was just like, “I could sit in traffic for like another half hour. I could pull off here and jump on the plane and go to Vegas. That makes sense.” One day that’s exactly what happened. I ended up in Vegas. And I ended up sitting at a blackjack table for 30 hours straight. There might be a world record or something for that, because literally after it was all said and done, I was just like, “What? It’s another day? And it’s six hours into another day.” That I was really there for 30 hours.

Jude:
And it’s so crazy because at one point I was like up a hundred grand, down $80,000, back up a hundred grand. And after it was all said and done, I was down $150,000. And this was in 2004. I was not in a position to do that. I was at actually playing with Sam Cassell. I think he was one of the Houston Rockets back then. And so he’s playing $5,000 a hand, so I’m playing 5,000 a hand. Why not? Right?

Jude:
But I think that’s like one of the best things that ever happened to me because, one, I felt so defeated and lost. As soon as I walked out of the casino that day, I walked straight into tattoo parlor and I got this tattoo on my hand that says, “Never again.” It’s the only tattoo I have, it’s on my hand, and it’s like a testament and a reminder that I’m never going to put myself in that position again.

Jude:
I’m of strong belief that you can lie to anybody in the world, but you can’t lie to yourself. Right? I’d be lying to myself if I have a tattoo on my hand, and with the same hand I’m saying, “Well, hit me,” or if I have a tattoo on my hand and I’m driving and I’m looking at this thing that says, “Never again.” And so many times this tattoo has saved me because it was a reminder. When I’m slipping, it just reminded me that, “Hey, Jude. You got to find your way back.” Yeah. So that’s Vegas, that’s gambling. I still gamble because the real estate game is a gamble in itself, but it’s a little bit more controlled.

Brandon:
That it is. And unlike gambling, where gambling the house always has the edge, right? Yeah, you can win, but over time, even if it’s only 51% odds that the house has, the house will always over time win. But in real estate, I feel like the investor has the odds. Occasionally the house wins, occasionally you do a bad deal, but if you hold on long enough, you play long enough, almost everybody wins who’s in real estate if you could hang on long enough. So except for times of like, well, I mean like where we struggle is things like the recession, and that’s where I go next. I love asking guys who have been in this business forever, “Did you see it coming? How did you fare during the 2007 crash?”

Jude:
I lost everything, everything. No, let me rephrase that. I didn’t lose everything, I had everything foreclosure. When I started making money and I went down and I bought this big 4,000 square foot house with a pool and all that other stuff, and all these toys and stuff like that, so all those things had to go. I went from the Mercedes convertible back to the Honda, things like that tightened my belt. And I really started looking outside the box, right? Started thinking differently.

Jude:
I started looking at the things that I had and how could I make money. What did I have? Right? And one of the biggest things that saved me during that time is I bought this … No, excuse me. The rents in Manhattan plummeted during the recession. I was able to rent this huge like 4,000 square foot loft like five grand a month. Right? And I figured that regardless of if it’s a recession or not, everybody’s still going to celebrate their birthday.

Jude:
Everybody is going to still have that first birthday party, that engagement party on and all those other things. So I was able to rent that for like $5,000 a month, and then I was renting this thing out for like $3,000 a night. So that’s one of the things that I did. And then what I started doing was Airbnbing my house, my big house with the pool and all that other stuff. It wasn’t even Airbnb back then, it was like Vrbo and HomeAway and stuff like that. And I even had a website going. So that was how I survived, just doing everything that I had to do.

Jude:
I even started Indian hair company at that time. Yeah. I ended up flying to India and getting a hair connect, and that’s another story. But all of these things I did from like 2008 to I’d say 2013 while I was modifying, while I was making deals with banks and all that other stuff, trying to make it through the storm. One of the things that I got very lucky that I didn’t do and I literally missed an appointment saved me, because someone wanted to buy my deeds and they were going to give me like $200,000 for all my deeds, and I missed the appointment. And then I ended up speaking to somebody and they told me that I was about to get ripped off.

Brandon:
So if you had to boil down like a lesson or two that you pulled from this period of time that maybe changed your business, changed how you think, changed how you operate today, what would you say? What’s changed in you because of this?

Jude:
Well, a couple of things, one, don’t ever get caught up in the moment as far as always believing that good times last forever. The same way tough times don’t last forever ever, neither do those good times. So you have to kind of be even-keeled. Secondly is you have to really manage your relationships, because it was my friends and my attorneys and people that I did business with, like when times were good, that I was good too and they were able to help and guide me through this tough period.

Jude:
And as David said before, you always have to look in the refrigerator and see what you could eat. I couldn’t flip properties anymore because of the climate, but I could still Airbnb. People were still coming to New York. The Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty is not going anywhere. People are still going to keep coming to New York. People are still going to keep having bar mitzvah, they’re always going to need a place to hold these things. So just look to see what’s there.

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s such a great attitude to have. Yeah, because there’s always a way to figure it out, almost always a way to figure something than out. If you have that attitude of not, “Ah, this all sucks. The world’s falling apart,” but, “Okay. Things are a struggle right now. What is working? What can I do?” So were you flipping before this? Was that where you were making all your money was flipping houses as well?

Jude:
I have my core properties that I own, right? I have about eight brownstones that I own that are rented all the time. And what I do is the properties that I flipped, I use that money. But well, let me say one more thing. Some of the properties that I purchase are not cash positive, but there’s like a ton of equity in them. Right? So I might buy a property for 1,500,000, that’s worth 2.5, but the rent doesn’t cover the 1,500,000 mortgage. Right? So what I’ll do is I’ll acquire that property then I will take equity out of it, buy a property to flip, make somebody and pay down that mortgage.

Brandon:
Smart.

David:
You said something earlier, Jude, that I kind of wanted to allude to, and you had admitted, which I think is very brave, that you had a gambling problem. And you even said like, “I’m probably always going to have that.” I think that’s a wise perspective to take. When we tell ourselves that we’ve defeated a dragon as if it will never come back, you set yourself up to get eaten. And you got me thinking about just the gambling industry as a whole.

David:
If you really think about it, the house is set to win, but the house can lose too. There are moments where a person goes in there and crushes it and the house loses. Right? And so gambling is really like a … There’s a yin and a yang to it. There’s going to be the side we call the house that has the advantages, but both sides are gambling. And real estate investing, you mentioned, kind of how you scratch that itch.

David:
But that’s the same thing. As the owner of the property, we’re the house. Okay? We have the advantages in our favor, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t lose. Just like when you saw the market turn around on you, you weren’t able to make it work. That’s like when a casino has a person come in, they can count cards or does great and takes all their money. They have have enough in reserves to weather that storm of a temporary loss.

David:
And casinos also stay in business because they make money in other ways, right? They sell food, they sell drinks, they sell hotel rooms. They have multiple ways that they can make their business operate even if the gambling aspect of it goes against them. And what you really did was you said, “I’m going to move from the gambler to the casino owner. I’m going to own the real estate. And when it went bad, I will find different ways to make money with this asset class,” which is what every great business owner does.

David:
And I don’t think I’ve ever looked at real estate investing that same way, because a lot of people see the risk and they say, “I don’t want to do it. It’s like gambling. What if my property doesn’t go up? What if my tenant trashes it?” They bring up the things that could go wrong. But by being a tenant your whole life and paying your rent to someone else, it means you’re never in the position of beating the house. You’re always at the disadvantage trying to make money in other ways. Does that resonate with you or do you think that, that’s a bad example?

Jude:
No, no. And you have to play the hand that you’re dealt, and you have to play it the best way you can. But let’s go back. With the gamble talk, you get a 13, a 14 or 15, you could still win with that, but you have to be smart and you have to think outside the box, and you also have, you have to have a plan. And one thing you cannot do is just have a defeatist attitude. Because once you have a defeatist attitude, you’re defeated.

Jude:
I will not lose. At the end of the day, I may lose this hand, I may lose this round, I may lose this battle, but at the end of the day, every day when the sun comes up, the world resets and I get a second chance until the day that I die. And for my last day, as long as I had more good days, more wins than losses, I won the game. If I start the day carrying over yesterday’s losses or yesterday’s hardships, I’m screwed. I’m done. Like today is already a loss.

Brandon:
Man, that’s such a good way of looking at it, and somehow I think a lot of people struggle with. I want to ask you kind of a … Maybe it’s a bit of a sensitive topic for the world today, but I’ll say like me being the … I’ll just bluntly say it, right? Like the white guy, it’s easier for me, I feel like, or at least that’s the way … I mean, I would say it’s easier for me with the privilege that I’ve had. I’m wondering in your world, I mean I’ve never lived in inner city or even near one, I’ve never been in New York. I’ve been in New York, but I never invested there. What do you see from the people that are in your community, people of color or just people that are just in the inner city or maybe in a more heavily poverty area? How are they getting out? How do you help them get out? I mean, what do you see there?

Jude:
Well, prior to this new wave of education, of financial literacy, you guys are the rock stars now, right? Everybody wants the information of how to become wealthy and generational wealth and financially free and all that other stuff. But where I came from, how I grew up, the only people who got out were the people who resorted to crime, people with a good jump shot or the people who could sing and dance or rap or whatever it was. Those were your only options.

Jude:
And one of my passions, like this Brooklyn Bank, this is a non-profit that I started, one of the things that’s super, super important to me is spreading the word of that you have other options. There’s so many other ways, especially like real estate being one of them. And as David said, it’s not guaranteed. It’s not guaranteed that you will become wealthy in real estate, but the odds are really in your favor because now you are the house.

Jude:
You have the asset that appreciates, you have the asset that cash flows and stuff like that. So it’s super duper important that you put the fears aside and you educate yourself. Whether you take a course, whether you go to YouTube university, whether you go to your platform, other platforms and align yourself with people who can mentor or mentor you from afar. Watch people ask questions and stuff like that, because it’s very possible. And when people say the word ghetto, they think of buildings and tenements. Right? But the little definition of the word is a lack of hope where the situation is hopeless, right?

Jude:
And it’s super important that people have hope, which is what I try to do to show them like, “Hey, I’m from the hood. I can’t rap. My jump shot is not NBA worthy. And I’m not built for a life of crime, or do I have any desire to do that.” I had the other options know if I wanted to compete with the luminaries that were up during the time that I was coming up. When I first started in the game, this was like ’97, and this was New York City with the height of the Bad Boy era, with Puff Daddy and all these guys.

Jude:
Every time you’d go out, they’d be buying a at the bar, and all the girls would be flocking to them and stuff like that. While they’re having that champagne, you could either sit on the sideline and have your Rum and Coke or your Heineken or whatever you’re doing, or you could find a way, your own path of how you could garner your own personal measurement of success.

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s cool, man. I mean, yeah, it’s awesome what you’re doing. Can you explain The Brooklyn Bank a little more? What does the Brooklyn Bank do?

Jude:
All right. The Brooklyn Bank, we are a non-profit organization, a 501(c)(3) organization with the mission of providing financial literacy, wealth building skills and economic empowerment to people of color. What we do is we have classes on credit, real estate, mortgages, crypto, all the things that people are not aware of. Well, all the people who are in this neighborhood are typically not aware of, of how to make money. We teach them about the mindset, what kind of mindset that they need to have. We teach them about sacrifice.

Jude:
And one of the biggest things we have to teach, especially the kids, is the importance of delayed gratification. It’s the same thing. It’s just like, would you rather have a pair of Jordans today or do you want to buy some Nike stock that could buy you the Jordans tomorrow and keep buying new Jordans? It’s like everybody wants abs, but they want pie today.

Brandon:
Yeah, story of my life.

Jude:
Yeah. It’s just like, yeah, “I want the abs,” but you know what I’m saying, for me to have the abs six weeks from now means that I can’t have the pie for the next six weeks, but the pie looks so good. But that’s when you have to ask yourself what’s more important to you, the pie or the abs, the Jordans or the stock?

Brandon:
That’s amazing. How do you guys fund the organization? I mean, is it donation-based or what do you do to fund the you based?

Jude:
Yeah, it’s basically me based as of right now. I’m in the process of learning. This is a whole new thing for me. But for the last couple of years, it’s basically been me writing those big checks every year. But it’s okay because it’s fulfilling.

David:
What would you tell somebody who feels like, “What you’re describing doesn’t work for me? I don’t think that way. The only way I can get ahead is with these methods.”? Maybe they don’t have enough role models around them or they’ve seen somebody do that where they would actually trust it. Right? They hear what we’re saying, maybe in a sense there’s some logical connection they can make, but emotionally, it just feels like, “Yeah, that’s for those people. That’s not for me.”

Jude:
Well, I think what needs to happen is more people like myself need to be prevalent in their lives to let them see like, “Hey, I’m from the hood just like yourself,” and for me to take the time and break things down to them of how it’s a structure. “It works for everyone. And all you have to do is put the work in and follow the plan.” Because at the end of the day, it’s super important that you believe, right?

Jude:
And one of the things that I mentioned before, the importance of delayed gratification is showing that, “Hey, if you give this up, if you put a little effort into this thing and follow this plan, all you need to do is raise X amount of dollars. And then once you get X amount of dollars, you could put a percentage down, you could put a down payment down, and this thing is going to grow exponentially. It’s going to grow 1%, 2% every year, and then you’re going to get cash back from it.”

Jude:
And I was telling him like, “Whatever you’re looking to do, if you’re thinking that being an entertainer is your way, what are the percentages, what are the odds of you becoming a successful entertainer?” Right? “If you’re thinking that making it to the league is your thing, what are the odds?” It’s a one in a couple of hundred thousand of people, basketball players make it into the NBA.

David:
Well, there’s nothing that stops you from doing both. If someone really has their dream set, they want to be a dancer, they want to be a singer, they want to be in the NBA, nothing stops you from having a job while you pursue that and buying real estate. Even as investors we get into, “That is the deal I want. That is the house I want.” And if you can’t make it work, you’re crashed and you just don’t go after it, as opposed to maybe someone with Jude’s mindset who says, “All right, I got a pair of sevens. This isn’t great, but how do I play that hand? Right? And what can I learn from the way I played it?” And you sort of take what the defense gives you. I think that’s a really successful, or a piece of successful people’s game that gets left behind. We’re get locked into that one way. Would you agree that’s similar to what you’ve seen?

Jude:
No, definitely. Definitely. As I said, I worked my job for years until I was able to fly on my own. But what I was specifically trying to talk about before was like the dreamers. And I’m not killing somebody’s dream, but sometimes … Like myself, I had to come to the realization that I’m 5’9″, I’m not going to the NBA. So I had to find something else to do. And by no means am I ever trying to stomp on somebody’s dream because there’s always that 1% and there’s always that story that they’re going to make Disney movies about. But you can do both.

Jude:
You can be financially illiterate, you could invest in real estate property. You can buy multifamily, multiunit properties and slowly build your wealth while you’re pursuing your dreams. One of my things that I love about Arnold Schwarzenegger is that he never … He waited until he got a lead role. He was never on commercials, he was never in a B-rolls or stuff like that. He waited until he got a lead role. And the way he was able to do that was because he had real estate, and he had a construction company going and all these other things that he used to generate income so he could wait forth for that opportunity.

David:
And another thing, people that have been successful in the way that we all see, the rappers, the athletes, a lot of people don’t realize they’re playing the same game that Jude and me and Brandon are. Shaquille O’Neal owns a lot of real estate. Marshawn Lynch never spent a dime of his entire paychecks from his team. He lived off of his endorsements. Jay-Z is a wildly intelligent businessman that can create revenue streams out of things other people don’t see.

Brandon:
Oh, David, he’s not a businessman, he’s a business, man.

David:
You guys heard the one rap line Brandon does in his entire life.

Brandon:
Yes, that’s the only rap line I know right there.

David:
And he goes back to it all the time, dude, I’m telling you. That’s his Steve Kerr three-point shot is the one thing he knows.

Brandon:
It’s like my dance move, right? I got like one dance move on the floor. Anyway.

David:
But it’s a good one, man. I mean, that’s okay. You can make a career out of that one move if you use it right.

Brandon:
Yeah, he’s doing the dice throwing again.

David:
Yes. They’re using the same principles we talk about, it just isn’t as visible, right? They’re not going to talk about it in the music video. You’re not going to see Shaquille O’Neal talking about his real estate stuff. He’s there to play basketball. I think a lot of people that admire them and want their career don’t understand that Jude what you’re talking about, they’re incorporating that into their overall game as well. So it shouldn’t be this or that. There’s no reason you can’t have both.

Jude:
No, definitely.

Brandon:
All right. One thing we’ve never done before here on the show and I want to do right now. I didn’t even ask you about this, Jude, so you tell me if this is a terrible idea. But I’d love to find a way to give back to The Brooklyn Bank a little bit. Is that cool? Are you taking donations, I’m assuming?

Jude:
Oh, actually, tonight we are actually raising money for Haiti. We have a benefit that we’re doing here at The Brooklyn Banks tonight, and we’re sending people on the ground with supplies to Haiti. So it’s cool.

Brandon:
Well, let me do this. First of all, I want to just … I’m not trying to say, “Hey,” pat myself on the back, trying to help you out. What I want to do is get the BiggerPockets audience to help out as well, so I’ll throw this out there. I’ll toss in five grand right now for what you’re doing tonight for the Haiti thing. Now this show comes out a little bit later. [inaudible 00:42:57] the first 5K. But what I want to do is, out here in Hawaii, I’ve got an extra unit that family and friends come out.

Brandon:
And so I’ll just say that for that anybody’s interested in coming out to Maui for a week. I mean, you pay for your own flight people, but if you want to come out and hang out with me for a week at my property out here, hang out with me, go out to dinner or do real estate. If David’s in town, he comes too. Anybody who donates that 5K as well towards The Brooklyn Bank, I’ll open up my home for you, or at least my extra unit or my vacation rental here and let you stay for a week and all that. So if anybody is interested in that, just email Matt who’s my assistant, one of my assistants, [email protected] And anybody who throws in five grand, come on, hang out with me for a week of a mentorship and learning and stuff, so hopefully I’ll help you out.

Jude:
I greatly appreciate that, man. It’s terrible what’s happening in Haiti and Afghanistan and just the world in general, in the hood right outside my door. And I think it’s kind of like my personal responsibility, no, excuse me, it’s our personal responsibility to give back. And whether it’s through charity, whether it’s through mentorship, it’s we are all responsible for when putting our hand behind us and grabbing the next person and helping them get to where we are.

David:
Yeah, I’ll match. I was actually going to text Brandon and ask him if he wanted to do a dual thing, and that’s exactly what I was thinking. So I’ll have my new loan company, The One Brokerage, donate just the same for my portion of the profits there into what you’re doing. What I think about is how much further $5,000 goes in Haiti than it does here. Right? And if people realize that, like $5,000 is one month of comfortable living for somebody here versus life-changing for several people in a place like that, it becomes the better investment when we’re all investors, right? Your money goes a lot further in a situation like that than it does in some places in America.

Jude:
I said earlier I was in Santorini and Mykonos earlier this week. And I was coming out of the club in Mykonos, and I heard this kid say, “My dad’s going to kill me. I can’t believe I blew eighteen grand in here.” And I was just like, “First of all, how do you have access to that if you’re not working for it?” Right? And then I initially just started thinking about like what that means in certain parts of the world, certain parts of the city, certain parts of this country, we should never lose sight.

Jude:
And that’s one of the best things I think that this whole real estate thing has done for me, is given me the disposable income to change hundreds of lives. And last Thanksgiving we gave away 1,100 turkeys. The line literally wrapped around the corner and stuff like that. And even though it’s not in line with our mission, but it’s just like you can’t think about building wealth if you’re hungry. It’s like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There are certain things it has to go in order. You got to fill your belly before you can fill your mind.

David:
That’s a great point. In fact, Brandon and I were just talking about some of the problems that are almost artificially created because America has so much wealth, and we’re like, “Well, I got no real problems to solve a real adversity to overcome. I’ve already made it,” so we start making really big deals out of small things, right? The person who cleans my house missed the spot under the sink and it can ruin your whole day. And the best recipe to get out of that is to go look at somebody in Haiti, right?

David:
Go look at somebody in right down the Middle East, God bless, what’s happening over there. And not only is it just good for them, but it’s good for you, right? You stop worrying about the person who didn’t detail your car correctly and letting that ruin your whole day. It doesn’t even pop into your head.

David:
And it’s sort of a way that I’ve found to play a game where I can get myself out of the pyramid, at the top of the pyramid of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and I get myself down in the middle or the bottom by putting myself into other people’s situation and seeing how I can help. And then I get the feeling of progress from helping them that I used to have when I was at the bottom trying to fight my way up to the top. And that is a, it’s like an addicting feeling as you see yourself making that progress.

Jude:
One of the little tricks that I play with myself, especially in relationships when you’re interacting with people, like, “Is this going to matter a week from now, a month from now or a year from now?” 99 out of 100 times, no, it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter that your flies were cold, because at the end of the day, some someone didn’t get fries at all. Somebody can’t have fries because they’re not even readily available to them.

David:
That’s a great point, right? And it’s just we were talking to someone else recently about how we just assume your car is always going to start. When it doesn’t start, it ruins your day. What if you went in everyday wondering if my car was going to start and when it did start, you’re like, “Oh, this is awesome. Great start to my day.” Right? And how you kind of build on that. And you got to be able to play those games with your own mind.

David:
Because there’s so many things in the world that will tell you, “You’re a victim. It’s not fair. This person didn’t detail your car great. Everything’s terrible for you,” and then you end up not happy about the success you’re having. One thing I wanted to ask you we didn’t get into Jude from a practical perspective. When you’re looking for real estate, are you looking for specific floor plans? Are you looking for neighborhoods, or are you basically just putting the word out there, and if the deal makes sense, you chase it on its own merit?

Jude:
Well, first, I let everybody know that whenever there’s a deal, send it my way. Now, what I do is like when people do send it my way, if it doesn’t fit my criteria, I typically just pass it off to somebody that will take it. Sometimes I do it as a, “Hey, here you go, buddy, just have fun with this,” or sometimes I do it as a wholesale situation or whatever, right? But right now, the way that I’m working, I only buy properties within my two mile radius if I’m going to keep it and five mile radius if I plan to flip it. And certain criteria that I look for is that, first of all, like any deal that I’m going to do, it has to have at least my seven figure upside.

David:
What I love about knowing your criteria, it makes it very easy to know if you should take action or not. Every professional basketball player, let’s use that analogy, they know what their shots are and what they’re not going to take. Right? Shaquille O’Neal is not getting the ball on the three-point line and trying to figure out, “Should I take this shot or should I not take this shot?” That causes a lot of anxiety and problems for the newer investors.

David:
I’ve gotten to know Shaun Livingston, used to play for the Warriors. He’s a fan of the podcast. We’ve become friends, actually went running a couple of times. And Shaun was so good at basketball because he knew this is what I do, this is what I don’t do. And what he did was something other people couldn’t do. He’s a very tall point guard that could get a shot off like a mid-range game that was almost impossible to stop.

David:
But it gave Shaun a lot of clarity that made him successful that he knew, “I’m not going to take certain shots from this … I’m not going to be a three-point shooter. I’m not going to be hitting runners, like what Stephen Curry shoots.” And so he had a very high percentage the entire time he played, and he could come up big for them by putting himself in the right spot on the court. And that’s exactly what you’re describing, Jude, with your real estate.

David:
“I’m in this two mile radius, I want a property. It looks like this. I want this much equity. If I have it, I’ll move. If I don’t, I won’t.” And it simplifies everything. And that’s just for the people that are listening that are having a hard time getting going, I would say Brandon you’d probably agree, most people are trying to analyze way too many opportunities that do not make sense for their situation or where their games at. Would you agree?

Brandon:
Yeah. I think there’s just like the more you niche down, the better you can make decisions, the better you can be able to become an expert, the better, the faster you can move, just it’s benefit, benefit, benefit, benefit. So yeah, I’ll do along.

Jude:
One of the things that I learned last year with COVID, I got stuck in the middle of a multimillion dollar renovation. And as I said, my criteria was that I need, at the end of the day, I need a seven figure upside. And every month while COVID was going on and we couldn’t work and stuff like that, the hard money lenders still had to get paid every month. But we were working on that, we were making progress or not. And if I didn’t have that cushion, and if I didn’t have that criteria or if it …

Jude:
What ended up happening is instead of me making X, I just ended up making a little bit less, well, a lot less, but it still turned out to be profitable. And I would rather wait for those grand slam home runs then than base hits, because that’s just what works for me.

Brandon:
Hey, when you mentioned that, like the seven figure upside, are you talking about specifically like you’re going to buy a rental that has that much equity you can build in over time, or are you talking about flipping, you’re going to do a flip that makes seven figures? What’s the seven figure upside?

Jude:
The seven figure upside is when I purchased a property, like the one I was telling you about, for the 2 million and I put 700 into it, and then when it’s done, it’s worth 4.5 that I could flip, that I could sell or whatever. But that’s the market rate, that’s the RV, those things don’t come around every day. So if I do one a year, I’m happy.

David:
Yeah, you’re in a good position where … I mean, since we’re using the gambling analogies, you’re playing poker, and you’re not on the blind, and you just see what cards come your way and you only play the strong hands, right? It’s one of the advantages to getting ahead in poker. When you’re sitting there with the big stack, you can be a lot more picky about which hands you play. You can put the odds in your favor, makes wins there in the future more likely because of wins that you had in the past, right?

David:
When you’re the short stack and you’re just living day-to-day, sometimes you got to play a hand that isn’t in your favor to play. So that’s one of the ways that I’ve found that when you make good decisions in the beginning, like you did Jude, and you delayed gratification, you put yourself in a position where you can only chase after a seven figure deal. Like you said with Arnold Schwarzenegger, he doesn’t have to go take scraps and ruin his value to the market because he took a secondary role, he can wait for the lead role.

Jude:
Conan.

David:
All right, dude. That’s fantastic advice. I appreciate you sharing that. When it comes to your own portfolio, would you mind sharing with me the details about your favorite deal?

Jude:
My favorite deal. I told you I went through the recession and all that other stuff. And my favorite deal is a deal that I did back in 2013. I had gotten a heads-up from one of my old employers that there was a house in Bed-Stuy that was about to be foreclosed on in a couple of weeks. He knew the neighbor and the neighbor was in Jamaica and stuff like that. And I looked up the house and I wanted in. And I found where the neighbor was that was in Jamaica. But they didn’t have a phone, so I had to DHL them a cell phone and make arrangements to actually go to Jamaica to talk to them. So I jumped on a plane, went to Jamaica. We were able to work out an agreement.

Jude:
And what I ended up doing was reinstating the loans that she already had, so I didn’t have to come up with new financing coming back, had to beg, borrow and steal. Well, I didn’t steal, but I had the beg and borrow to get the capital to raise the capital to actually do the renovation. And after all that was said and done, I was about $400,000 into this property and I ended up selling it for 1.7. And that was the jumpstart that I needed to get me back into the real estate game.

Jude:
Because before that, I was scrambling with the event space and the air company and the Airbnbs and stuff like that, just deploying to kind of survive. But with that one, from that one deal, I got my foot back in the game and was able to start doing bigger deals again and change my life. That one deal got me to where I am today.

David:
That was your Conan the Barbarian moment.

Jude:
Yeah. Just a random pocket dial because my phone actually hit my old employer up by accident, and we started talking, and that’s how it all happens. So what’s meant to be, will always be.

David:
That’s right. And when you make the right move and you do the right thing, the universe tends to reward that. One of the most misunderstood verses that I’m aware of is the one that says, “To he who has more will be given, and so he who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” And what it’s really getting down to is that when you are the person that makes the most out of the opportunity you’re given, more opportunities are going to come your way. And when you’re someone who squanders the opportunities that you have, even less opportunities are going to come your way, and I think that’s what’s so cool about that story.

Jude:
That’s the universe. The universe is powerful. And I don’t want to even get back to the whole charity thing again, but that’s why you have to put that positive energy back into the universe and make the best out of every situation, because what was me just doesn’t cut it.

David:
That’s exactly right. And when you’re the person who’s providing opportunity, opportunities are going to come, right? The universe is going to reward the person who’s doing good things, because that money goes to you, some of it is going to go to Haiti, you’re going to teach other people how to do it. Out of that one deal, millions and millions of dollars of productivity will be created by the people that you shared it with. It’s going to make a better world that we live in for all those different people.

David:
And Brandon, I talk about that. It’s really hard to make a direct connection between doing the right thing and your own personal success. There’s an element of faith you kind of got to have because you don’t always see it. But man, I can’t remember the last time we talked to a person that was really successful that didn’t have some component of their game being what you just said.

Jude:
Yeah, it’s what was written. At the end of the day, as long as you have that code, one of the small things that I do is if a realtor brings me a deal, once I fix it, I always give it back to that realtor to sell. Right? And so what does that do? That entices the realtor to whenever there’s a good deal, and they know that Jude’s going to do the right thing by me, not, “Oh, thank you. Here’s your commission, now beat it,” but they’ll get to touch that house twice, incentivizes people to do right by me because they know that I do right by them.

David:
And then if you contrast that with the person who says, “I’m going to beat the realtor up on their commission, and I’m going to save every single dime that I can,” that is the opposite of incentive. It tells that realtor, “I need to take this deal to somebody else.”

Jude:
Super important. You can’t beat the system. The universe is way too powerful and you just have to acknowledge that we are all connected and we are all related. And it’s like it’s only business if everybody is eating and profiting. One of the mindsets I kind of get from where I grew up is like you always take care of the people around you, because if you’re the only one eating and getting fat, you become food. But if you make sure that you take care of everybody around them, you’re no longer the dinner, you’re the person that provides dinner.

David:
Well, it works in sports too. You have one player that gets all the shots and scores all the points on a really bad team, and it’s going to make it worse for everybody. Eventually that’s the contract that the team’s going to have to offload if they want to be good. Because you need a lot of people to make a business. You need a lot of people to make a good team. The last question I want to ask you, Jude. You mentioned that Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the maybe heroes or people you look up to. I see you have Notorious B.I.G. on the wall behind you. You mentioned you have Jay-Z up there too. Who are some of your other heroes or people that you admire, and what about them is it that you admire?

Jude:
Funny enough, I would say that of course Jay-Z is one of my big heroes for his ability to come out of Marcy Projects and take all of his people with him. He’s still running with the same people that was around him. The same thing with LeBron James, whereas he still has his core group. And he not only took them with him, but he made them successful and he made them better. He made them better. He enriched their lives. He not only takes care of them, but he also takes … He has schools and he’s an all-around good guy.

Jude:
And it kind of pains me because I used to be a LeBron James hater because of the, “I’m taking my talents to Miami. I’m taking my talents to South Beach Line.” And I kind of hated on him for that. But I had to get over it because of all the positive things that he’s doing for his community, for his people. He stands up, and he’s vocal. He’s very vocal about injustice in his country. He puts his money where his mouth is. He articulate himself very well. He’s a shrewd businessman. He’s about to be a billionaire while he’s still playing in the league. So I would put LJ as my guy.

Brandon:
All right, awesome, man. Well, this was phenomenal. I love listening to your story, what you’re doing, both in terms of your real estate and how you’re giving back to the community. Yeah. And like I said earlier, definitely, if anybody’s interested, email [email protected] if you want to come hang out with me in Hawaii and do some good in the world. But before we get out of here, we do want to move to our last segment of the show and that is our …

Speaker 5:
Famous Four.

Brandon:
This is the part of the show we ask the same four questions to every guest every week, so we’re going to throw them at you right now. Number one, Jude. Do you have a favorite either current or all-time favorite real estate related book?

Jude:
My current favorite book from the last couple of months is Flipping Keys by Cesar Pina. Yeah, I like his story. He was immigrant parents, came up very hard, made bad decisions, learned from them, realized that he was just using his talents in the wrong way. And he’s built a phenomenal business going forward, so that would be my current favorite real estate book.

David:
What about your favorite business book?

Jude:
It’s funny you should mention about my favorite business book because I’m always arguing with people and they’re telling … When they ask me to recommend a business book, and I give them this book, they’re telling me it’s not a business book, but it’s The Alchemist. And Paulo Coelho. There’s so many lessons in that book about the power of the universe doing the right thing and working hard, taking chances. To me, that’s a business book, so that is my favorite business book.

Brandon:
That’s great, man. That is a great book. Great book.

David:
For anyone who wants to catch the interview We did with DJ Envy and Caesar, that is podcast 455. And there’s a very funny story about NAS actually in the very beginning of that episode that I highly encourage anybody familiar with those names to go listen to. That was maybe one of the hardest times that I’ve laughed on any of the podcasts we ever did, especially seeing Brandon squirm at the entire segment.

Brandon:
I can’t remember what NAS is. I do now. All right?

David:
Yeah, you know now. That’s right. Next question. What are some of your hobbies?

Jude:
Well, where I’m spending most of my time when I’m not working is The Brooklyn Bank. But other than that, I’m a marathoner. I have about four marathons under my belt. I currently have like a labral tear in my hip, so I’ve been swimming and doing a lot of strength training trying to get myself back. But that’s what I like to do, get up in the morning, do some miles, get my thoughts together. That’s me, Jude, the runner.

Brandon:
Jude, the runner. Awesome, man. All right, last question from me. If you had to narrow it down and really point out one or two traits, what separates successful real estate investors from those who give up, fail or never get started?

Jude:
One of the things I think that makes the winners in this game the winners that they are is their ability to see trends before they have to get started, right? There’s a Wayne Gretzky’s quote about, “How did you always get the ball?” I mean, “How did you always get the puck?” and he’s like, “Yeah. I was skating towards it before it got there.” Right? If you have the ability to take a look and see what the possibilities are and you work towards that, you’re always going to win. And it’s the people who have the very narrow view and just can only see what is right in front of them, those are people who fail and don’t do so well in this business and just pretty much in life in general.

Brandon:
Yeah. Yeah.

David:
And that goes back to what we said earlier, where there’s an element of faith. When Wayne Gretzky is skating to where he believes the puck is going to be, it’s not there right now. You don’t get the immediate gratification of, “If I do this, I’ll get that right away.” And sometimes the puck doesn’t come to you, but that’s still the right move, is you go to where it’s going to be. And that’s something that Brandon has been speaking into my life a lot more lately, is to have that faith and to take that step and trust that things are going to meet you there. Thanks for sharing that story, that benefited me.

Jude:
Yeah. And that’s the same thing with Dennis Rodman. He gets the rebound by going where ball is going to be. Just know that you’re not going to die, just have a little faith.

David:
Well, that comes up a lot in today’s current conversations with real estate, because we don’t know where the market’s going. Right? In a sense it’s a gamble. But really what I realized the other day when I was talking to someone to go buy and he says, “It’s a gamble either way.” If you think the market’s going to crash and you don’t buy, you’re gambling. And if you think the market’s going to go up and you buy, you’re gambling.

David:
There is no way to avoid the fact that no matter what decision you take, it’s a gamble. If I think the ball is coming off the rim to the right, that’s a gamble. It might go to the left. So rather than just trying to avoid anything that isn’t sure, you would just have to be comfortable with the fact that you’re going to play the odds and you’re going to make the right move, and over time those decisions will accumulate into wins.

David:
But it’s no guarantee on every time you make the decision that’s going to happen. And I think that’s what I love about your mindset, Jude, is just make the right play every time. Not every shot goes in, not every rebound comes your way. Sometimes you end up fouling the guy. But if you make the right play enough times in a row, it turns into a win. And that’s all that we’ve done when it comes to our personal finances, our businesses and real estate.

Jude:
One of the things that I always tell people when they’re asking me to take my crystal ball out and tell them what’s going to happen tomorrow, I tell them, “What you need to do is to make the best decision based on the information that you have today. You can’t make business decisions with maybes and, or, if thens and stuff like that. Go with what you know to be true. And of course you hedge a little bit or sometimes you gamble a little bit, but you can’t have analysis paralysis that just keeps you frozen in a holding pattern while you become 100% sure what’s going to happen tomorrow. Because once you get to tomorrow and then you got that fact, then there’s another unknown like a week from now. So you’re never all knowing. You never become almighty.

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s so true.

David:
Yeah. I actually heard LeBron James say one time, he was being criticized for not taking a shot at the end of the game. And it’s always these armchair quarterbacks that come out, like the Skip Baylesses of the world that want to say, “Hey, you didn’t take the shot, and that’s a bad thing about him.” And they asked him, and LeBron James said, “Well, I made the right basketball play. I was double-teamed. He was wide open. He’s a good shooter. I passed it to him. He missed the shot, but I’m okay with that. What I’m saying is I can’t control whether the guy makes it or not, what I can control is the play that I made in that moment.”

David:
And many times that worked out. Michael Jordan passed the ball to … Was it John Paxson, right? And Steve Kerr also. They both hit really big shots. And we don’t hear people criticizing Michael Jordan for passing the ball. He recognized that was the right play. I believe it’s called resulting in Annie Duke’s book, Life in Bets or something. We had her on the show. We talked about too many people look at the result and say, “Was it a good decision or not?” You can’t live like that.

David:
You got to look at like, “With the hand I had and what I was looking at, did I make the right moves?” And I think, Jude, you’re a very good example of somebody who played their cards. Well, you learned from playing them the wrong way in the beginning and now you play them the right way. And you operate in that space of uncertainty, but feeling confident that you made the right move.

Jude:
Thank you so much. But before I stopped gambling with blackjack, there’s always that question, “Do you hit on 12 or not?” Right? And what I ended up doing is I ended up saying that I will always hit on 12. And whether I win or lose, but that’s the plan. There’s never any second-guessing. It took the decision making away from me, it took the criticizing away from me, the self-criticizing and stuff like that. So yeah, you do what’s best whether it works out in that instance or not, but it was the best decision to make.

David:
I think that’s the economy we’re in right now. Do I hit on 12 or do I pass? Nobody knows the answer with where the market’s going to go right now. You might bust or you might lose from not hitting on 12, right? The dealer might hit a 13 or something like that. So that’s a great advice, is you cannot overthink that and then give yourself credit when it works out and give yourself blame when it doesn’t.

Brandon:
I was going to say that’s why I try to take all my real estate investing, whether or not I buy a house or not, I try to make it as non-emotional as possible. For example, for me, it’s like, “If I can get an 8% cash on cash return, and I can get whatever, I will do it.” Because at the end of the day, I could second-guess a million things. “Oh, what if something goes wrong? What if the economy fails? No, does it pass my number or not? Does it make the kind of return I want?”

Brandon:
Or in Open Door Capital, I’m like, “Can we underwrite from a 15% return or a 14% IRR and work backwards?” And yeah, are some crazy things going to happen that we can’t control or we can’t see? Possibly. But if I keep the emotion out of it and I just do what I know makes sense, nine times out of 10 it’s going to work out just fine. And that average is going to make sure that we all make the kind of returns that we want, we have the life that we kind of want. But if I just freeze and say I can do anything because there’s a million things that could go wrong, yeah, that’s a guaranteed loss.

Brandon:
Oh, man, this has been a great episode. I really loved chatting with you and look forward to kind of seeing where your head in the future with your real estate, with The Brooklyn Bank and just with everything you’re doing. I appreciate you.

David:
We’ve got one more question, Jude. Where can people find out more about you?

Jude:
I’m on Instagram @mr.judebernard, M-R.JudeBernard. Jude at The Brooklyn Bank and Judebernard.com.

Brandon:
All right, perfect.

David:
Well, thanks for your time today, Jude. I really appreciate the insight you shared, the wisdom, the transparency with some of the times the ball did not bounce your way and what you learned from it, as well as the inspiration you are to many other people who may be unfamiliar with this world from the get-go, but that does not mean that they cannot get in to it. I really like that. And there’s a million sports analogies that I could use, I will spare you guys another analogy in this show.

Brandon:
Oh, hey, everyone. Before we head out, real quick, I mentioned this in the intro, but I’ll say it again now. For more information on how to donate to The Brooklyn Bank and to be able to claim that if you donate 5K you’re going to hang out with me in Hawaii, just go to the show notes page at BiggerPockets.com. I have a little bit more information there about how you can donate directly to The Brooklyn Bank.

Brandon:
I think it’s actually just [email protected], but you might as well check the show notes page for more details. You can also shoot me a DM if you want over on Instagram @BeardyBrandon. Again, it’s @BeardyBrandon on Instagram. Shoot me a DM and we’ll chat more about helping people in Brooklyn kind of reach new levels of success. Sweet. All right, David, you want to get us out of here and close up shop?

David:
I would love to. This David Greene for Brandon shoot your shot Turner, signing off.

Speaker 3:
You’re listening to BiggerPockets Radio, simplifying real estate for investors, large and small. If you’re here looking to learn about real estate investing without all the hype, you’re in the right place. Be sure to join the millions of others who have benefited from BiggerPockets.com, your home for real estate investing online.

 

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • Purchasing properties in very expensive markets (like New York City)
  • Building relationships with everyone you talk to, funneling more deals into your pipeline 
  • Making sure every deal has a seven-figure upside (seriously!)
  • Using your greatest fears to propel you to the next level 
  • Gambling addiction and the message behind why the “house” always wins
  • How the Brooklyn Bank is helping build a pathway out of poverty 
  • How you can spend a week with Brandon and help support a great cause
  • And So Much More!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show:

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