I was there myself. I was traveling 48 weeks a year. The hotel staff all knew me on a first name basis. I always got bumped up to first class on my flights. I got the fancy car upgrades. I had Platinum status everywhere. The career was exciting. The work was challenging. The money was better than ever. Things I worked on made news headlines. I was relevant. Except, something was missing. I was living out of a suitcase. As much I hated to admit it I could not tell my clients I could not be there next week. I could not miss that important board meeting. I was missing my kids grow up. I was living life on the weekends.
Thousands of busy professionals find themselves in similar circumstances every day. When I got into Management Consulting in 2010 there were approximately 1.1 million professionals in the industry in the US according to IBIS World. By 2019 that number had increased by over 50% to 1.75 million professionals. Including pilots, flight attendants, sales professionals, event managers, public accountants, business executives and many others there are over 4 million people in the US who are super busy travel professionals or “road warriors”. We nod as we start recognizing each other boarding the same flights week in week out. We question why we do this as we tell our kids bedtime stories over FaceTime or Zoom. We promise our spouses that next year will be different, that we will be less busy at work, that we will be home for dinner more regularly if only we could get that deal closed, get that next promotion, hit our sales goals, or make partner. Will next year be better? Will it really be different?
Top 10 Road Warrior Jobs
Management Consultants Pilots & Flight Attendants
Sales Professionals Event Managers
Public Accountants/CPAs Business Executives
Retail Buyers Athletic Recruiters and Scouts
Traveling Nurses Commercial Truck Drivers
The road warrior professions are interesting, well-respected and well-compensated. They have these attributes because they are difficult and often take a toll on families. They are not for everyone; they certainly are not for everyone for the duration of their career—while some stay, many move on. I knew that I had to do something different when I started having difficult conversations with my kids about whether I would be going to work on Monday. Going to work on Monday meant that I would not be back until Thursday. This is when I decided three things:
- I needed to find a different way to maintain my lifestyle
- I needed to ensure short and long-term financial success for my family
- I needed to physically and emotionally be there for my family
My wife, Jessica, and I had started investing in real estate back in 2006. Ever since we bought our personal residence we saw the potential for wealth creation through real estate. The numbers were simple to analyze. The single family house model can be scaled up in Excel by my teenage daughter. We bought a duplex and a triplex. We added a few single family houses. It was working. The rents came in and paid the expenses: mortgage, utilities and insurance. A little bit of money was left over. We had an arrangement with the tenants to get three quotes for any repairs needed, fix the problem and send us the bill. The headaches of managing property existed but they were minimal once we got good tenants. We were not getting rich from this activity but we were slowly building equity and the cashflow was growing. By 2016 we had accumulated 8 units. But for some reason we had not continued investing at the pace we had started. Life had happened. Jessica and I had switched jobs. We were now parents. We had moved back to Ann Arbor, Michigan from Chicago. We had just lost focus.
We had a serious discussion about where we found ourselves and where my management consulting career was taking me. We are both analytical and we reviewed the real estate investments we had accumulated and the IDEAL benefits that we had realized on them:
- Income: monthly passive income
- Depreciation: favorable tax treatment through property depreciation
- Equity growth: as the mortgages got paid down or paid off
- Appreciation in property values over time
- Leverage: for relatively little money down being able to control an expensive asset
We agreed that had we not fallen off the original investing path we started in 2006 we would be in a very different place. We also agreed that we did not want to create more property management work for ourselves. We decided that we needed to scale up our investments to larger multifamily properties to build momentum and employ professional property management.
On the Forbes list of richest people in the world in 2019 real estate ranked third, producing 223 billionaires, and very close to second place which was held by fashion and retail with 230 billionaires that year. Names of real estate moguls adorn prestigious business schools from New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business to our very own University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business right here in Ann Arbor where Jessica and I met, did our undergraduate studies and call home today. It is not happenstance that so many people accomplished financial freedom and built incredible wealth in real estate. There is a formula that works.
Today I am happy to say that our family is financially free and we have built a successful real estate investing business with Cape Sierra Capital. We focus on the multifamily sector which has proven to be particularly resilient during the global COVID-19 pandemic as people always need a decent place to live. We buy stable apartment communities in the Midwest and Southeast where we can provide excellent risk adjusted returns to our investors. I am passionate about the transformation that real estate has had on my life and for this reason I teach others the same techniques that I used to get out of my road warrior life. I no longer have conversations with my kids about when next they will see me or whether I can attend their sporting events. It is no longer a question as they know that I will be there. I know that my family’s future is secure and my wife and I have never been happier.
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