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Mike Swenson: From Finance To Ops To Entrepreneur To REL Freedom Founder

Uncategorized Nov 19, 2020

LISTEN TO FULL EPISODE ON:   

 

Hear from REL Freedom Founder Mike Swenson about his journey from working in finance for a non-profit to real estate team founder and REL Freedom founder. Previously in real estate, he helped grow a team to the #31 team in the United States, as recognized by RealTrends, in his role as COO. In addition to talking about real estate teams, he shares his journey on real estate investments, savings, and talks about the future he's creating for those in real estate. He's interviewed by real estate partner in crime and Elite Advantage Team Leader - Justin Rademacher. 

 

In this episode, hosted by - Justin Rademacher, we discussed:   

  • How Mike got his career started and applied his background in non-profit and finance & operations to his roles in real estate
  • His experiences with real estate investing and how to stick through it 
  • To get started in investing, find something that fits for you and your goals  
  • You can't get something done unless you start  
  • How to automate savings, by keeping it out of sight and out of mind 
  • Building the habit of spending less than you make 
  • Think about your first couple of years in real estate as your education in the industry 
  • Have a long-term mindset 
  • Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle or end 
  • Mike wants to inspire others through REL Freedom by telling other’s stories and to coach others financially 
  • Mike’s real estate team wants to see you grow and succeed  
  • He teaches his agents how to build long term wealth  

  

Timestamps: If You Want To Jump Ahead To Your Favorite Part   

0:00 - Intro and overview on Mike’s career 

7:07 – Importance of investing 

18:18 – The time value of money 

27:31 - Investment of time and skills 

38:23 – Why he started REL Freedom 

41:17 – How Mike runs his real estate team 

 

Links Based On This Episode:   

Mike's Real Estate Team: https://www.eliteadvantageteam.com 

Elite Advantage Team's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eliteadvantageteam/?hl=en

 

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Full transcript here:

Mike Swenson 

Hello, everybody, welcome to REL freedom and we have a special guest today. And today we want to share a little bit about our story. So for those of you that don't know me, I'm Mike Swenson and I am working on real freedom here. And I have my my right hand guy, my my partner in crime, Justin Rademacher here with me today. And we're going to take some time, and we're going to share a little bit about my journey, our journey together as a team. You know, I figured just for you guys to understand a little bit more about us and what we're doing and why we formed real freedom, why we have our real estate team, and really what we're trying to accomplish in real estate. So welcome, Justin, glad to have you on board. And if you want to just give a quick little overview about you.

 

Justin Rademacher 

Yeah, I appreciate the intro. Yeah. So I have a background previous to, you know, partnering with Mike, kind of more in the commercial world side of things in regards to real estate leasing office space, but a lot of my background is really in investing in people, right, and helping other people build their business, whether had been in the construction, sales business, or whether it was in, you know, retail sales, whatever. I have a extensive history in that. And I found Mike and I, this is the opportunity I've been looking for for a long time. So really excited to be around like minded individuals. So I appreciate that very much. So. Yeah, Mike, if you don't mind, should we just kind of jump into maybe a little bit more of your background? You know, before you got into real estate, maybe what got you into real estate, and we can just kind of take it from there.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, so I graduated from college, and I had a degree in entrepreneurship and finance. And I always tell people that, you know, most of the classmates that I had, when when we graduated college, they all had businesses that they're going to start businesses they were going to run, whether it's a family business, or something they were going to do together with their buddies, and figure out and for me, the reason why I didn't start my own businesses, I just didn't want to take the risk. I grew up as a pretty risk averse person. And, and the idea of starting my own business, just just frankly, scared me, and, you know, not having stability, and that sort of stuff, you know, and I just couldn't take that risk. And so I actually added finance as a second major, so that I could get a job because I knew people at that time.

 

Mike Swenson 

So this is, you know, 2020 plus years ago, entrepreneurship wasn't as cool as it was back then. And so people didn't really know what it was. And I always joke about I don't even know how to spell entrepreneurship when I started majoring in it. And so I was gonna major either in real estate, ironically enough, or finance. And I chose finance because I figured it provided a more stable income right out of the gate. And I always realized, you know, I kind of figured I could get my real estate license in the future. So that's what I majored in, I actually started, I worked for a nonprofit, right out of college, we did mission trips for churches all across North America. And I started in their finance department, and in, worked there for a couple years, and then moved over to kind of the operation side.

 

Mike Swenson 

So I was, you know, helping to build systems implement systems. You know, we had 75 plus mission sites, we had, you know, up to 38,000 youth that would go on our mission trips each year, and so was handling all those systems, getting things into place things like, you know, we had a fleet of, you know, 80 vehicles that we had to monitor. And so taking care of those, how do you systematize that, so I was always building systems, implementing systems and utilizing systems and looked up and I wanted a different challenge, I wanted a little bit more opportunity. And so I'd always been interested in real estate and didn't know where to get started. You know, I always thought that, to me, being in real estate meant I had to be a solo agent.

 

Mike Swenson 

And, you know, there's things that I like doing, and there's things that I don't like doing, and I didn't like the idea of doing all the things I didn't want to do. I'm a natural introvert, big time. So you know, going out and meeting people and rubbing shoulders with people I didn't know, scared me. So. So I was introduced to a team, where I could do all the backend systems and operations, which is really my sweet spot. And so for six years, then I took a real estate team from about a handful of agents doing 150 transactions, to having teams in multiple states. I think at our peak, we had 5060 agents and in 2019, we closed 619 transactions.

 

Mike Swenson 

So being able to grow and scale that business, from you know, the 400 team in our brokerage to actually the 31st largest real estate team in the United States was pretty cool. And so along the way, I learned a lot of skills that really helped me to launch the next phase of my career, which is launching my real estate team, in addition to what I'm doing at real freedom here. So, you know, I kind of look at it in two chunks. You know, my first 15 years and kind of out of college 15 six 10 years is to really help prepare me for what are these next 1516 years going to look like? And so I've had a chance to see a lot of things experience a lot of things grow a lot of skills that are going to really be impactful here moving forward.

 

Justin Rademacher 

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that gives, you know, everybody watching them, you know, even myself a little bit more understanding of kind of where your passion comes from, and, and how it's grown organically, just even within the last year that I've known you, just watching that passion grow organically has been really fun to watch. And, you know, honestly, it's contagious, right?

 

Justin Rademacher 

A lot of the things that you you were passionate about, I didn't even know about, and then I caught one of them. Right. And, and that's what where I say, it's really nice to be really around like minded individuals, because you can feed off of each other, right? And so would it be safe to say, you know, with real freedom, that your history with, you know, your previous real estate team that you were part of? Is that kind of what helped launch you get your passion into, you know, starting your own team and real freedom and things like that?

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, for sure. There's, you know, there's a lot of things that I've seen in the industry, not just with our team, but you know, rubbing shoulders with hundreds and hundreds of agents with different brokerages over the last handful of years. Yeah, there's a lot of things that I've seen that, you know, frankly, surprised me getting into real estate, I didn't know where I assumed it was gonna be a certain way. And it wasn't so. So yeah, it's, you know, I would say having that past experience, being a part of, you know, large teams networking with other people that run large teams and all sorts of brokerages really helped set up, you know, kind of the foundation here for for these next this next phase in life.

 

Justin Rademacher 

Absolutely. I know there's three, typical three, three areas that you really want to focus on, right, in regards to kind of what what your vision is, and what our vision is, and what we're building together. So, do you want to maybe just dive into what those are and why they're important, and we'll just have an organic conversation.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, so I just want to share a little bit about, you know, we talk about being in real estate and investing and what that looks like. So I just want to share a little bit of my past history, with real estate investments. And so hopefully, to encourage you guys, you know, you don't have to have it all figured out, it's about taking your first step forward, you know, you can't get to your 10th rental property until you get to your first and then your second and then your third. And to also encourage you, all of my, I should say 99% of my experience with homes, on fixing up renting out homes, flipping homes, those before I even got in real estate, so I wasn't licensed, I was just just a finance and entrepreneurship guy working for a nonprofit. And I was able to do this stuff. So just really want to encourage you with all the tools and experience and people that you have at your fingertips.

 

Mike Swenson 

There's no reason that you can't get started with investments. And in getting that first property or figuring out a plan of how to get to 10 1520 properties. Because if somebody outside of real estate can do it, you can too so. So for me, it really started, you know, when when my wife and I got married, we bought our first home, and it was a townhouse. You know, we happen to be fortunate to purchase right at the end of 2006, which is you know, I tell people, we got to ride the wave all the way down. And I was excited because when we bought a townhouse, it was only two years old. And we were getting it for a few $1,000 less than the people when they got it brand new. And so I thought, oh, we're getting a good deal, right? Remember, I don't have any real estate experience. But we got a good deal, appraised for a few 1000 higher, so we had some instant equity. Fantastic.

 

Mike Swenson 

So our plan was to be there for less than five years. So we got a five year arm on our mortgage, the second mortgage was an arm. And so we thought, Hey, we're gonna be here for five years. So let's buy this get a good rate on the arm and move forward. And you know, over the next five years, I got to watch as all the many of the units in our complex. were short sales or foreclosures. And I remember talking to my next door neighbor is he's basically saying, Yeah, I can't afford it anymore. The prices went down, and I'm getting kicked out next month. And, you know, for me, I had I had to have a decision, you know, do I just do that same thing and just bail? Or do I stick it out. And so for me, I decided to stick it out.

 

Mike Swenson 

And, you know, we were at that time, probably, you know, some of the units were selling for half what we bought it for, and I knew it was gonna be a long way before we could get back to break even on this. And so we continue to make payments and we just hung on. And unfortunately, I didn't have an opportunity to buy some of those other units to be able to have some other investments. But we just wanted to stay above ground on the unit that we had. So we lived in there for just short of five years and I looked up and I said hey, is there a way that we can get another house and yet still rent this out? And so, fortunately, we found a renter, my wife had somebody at her work that was Looking to rent a townhouse. And so that helped move us on to the next property. And I should say, in the meantime, we actually did a flip of flipping a hold.

 

Mike Swenson 

And so it was an investment property that we bought for a great price that was kind of the bottom of the bottom in a neighborhood that that needed a lot of work. And so we fixed that up. And we actually sold it for 120%, more than what we bought it for. This was about 18 months afterwards. So we rented it out my brother in law was one of the renters, we found another renter, I posted it on Craigslist, found a great person that that wanted to rent out this house. And so for a year and a half, we fixed it up, rented it out, and then we flipped it. And so you know, we obviously put a bunch of money into that. But what ended up happening is we took the proceeds from that sale, and we paid off all of my student loans.

 

Mike Swenson 

So, you know, if you if you figure now we're about five years into our marriage, my student loans are gone. And we're looking to get another house. And so so that helped us to buy what was then a short sale. So we knew nothing about short sales, it was still a pretty fluid market. And thankfully, we had a great agent that helped navigate that for us, and, and got a good deal on a short sale. So it was a house, you know, I had a background in construction, I should mention I, you know, I helped frame houses, townhouse units, for the most part in college. And so I did that for three years.

 

Mike Swenson 

So I took that experience, and we bought a short sale and we fixed it up. And over the course of three years, we sold it for almost just shy of 40% more than we bought it for, and you know, way to be able to use some of my skills and experience in construction. It was fun for us, you know, I people always used to joke with us, you know, what house project are you working on now, because we like to do that. And so that that gave us some equity, right as a chance to move into the next home. So then three years after that, like I said, we sold it, we moved on to another house, that house we lived in for six years. And after six years, we sold that for 43% more than we bought it for.

 

Mike Swenson 

We got some more equity in that. And so I was able to use that experience just to continue to grow and accumulate a little bit of wealth, accumulate a little bit of wealth accumulate a little bit of wealth. And then on the other hand, what's been happening is we still have this townhouse, we still were renting it out. And finally after about 12 years, so now just just two or three years ago, that value returned to more than what we bought it for now, you know, we've had a ton of mortgage payments on that to be able to pay it down. At some point we refight from a 30 year to a 20 year. And so now we have, you know, less than 10 years left on the mortgage, and we have a lot of equity in that.

 

Mike Swenson 

So it's one of those things where it doesn't have to be this huge glamorous thing it could be little step little step little step now, we've made a handful of little steps over the last 15 years. And it's it's earned us equity in our current house that we live in. Thankfully, it's not a fix. After adding three boys to the family, I don't have the time or the energy to to live in a house that I'm working on all the time. And yet, we've had the equity in this house, and now we have a rental that you know is paid us back in a lot of equity over the years. And so it doesn't have to be glamorous, it just has to start with something. And and that's how we were able to turn, you know, 15 years with a little bit of blood, sweat and tears, to be able to build up a little bit of a nest egg there on the on the home side.

 

Justin Rademacher 

What I like what you said today is the one thing that just stuck out to me is it doesn't need to be glamorous, you just need to start. Right. And I think that that's where a lot of people could potentially go wrong, right? They they're so focused on you know, we talked about this a lot, you know, done is better than perfect. Start, because if you don't start it's not going to get done. Right?

 

Mike Swenson 

Oh, for sure. Yeah. And it's it's one of those things where, you know, it takes time, like if you plant a tree, it takes time for it to grow. And so you know, for some people, they might jump in and say, you know, I want to you know, do three flips this year, five flips this year 10 you know, 10 buying holds in the next two years, like you can go at it aggressively. And yet, you're gonna learn a lot of things from from time one and time two as well. And so, so yeah, just just get started. But yeah, it's it's absolutely shaped where we're at today in our financial position as a result of that, just by doing a little bit a little bit a little bit. And like I said, except for the last sell that we had last year, all of this was done before I got into real estate.

 

Justin Rademacher 

Yep. And so you know, if this is resonating, I'm just thinking on somebody who, you know, has been thinking about trying to create this passive income, which is kind of what we're what we're talking about here, but they just don't know where to start. You know, I know you have a lot of experience with this a lot of knowledge, you know, what would you recommend?

 

Mike Swenson 

Taking a look at so it's a combination of, you know, finding something that fits for you and what your goals are, and then it's finding the financing. You know, there's there's people out there that are willing to to invest. You may not have to put any of your own money into it. And so it's it's finding a lender that works or finding financing that works. It could be friends and family, potentially, or find find a great lender. And it doesn't have to be that lender that knows the answer, but they might know of somebody that does. And so you're not going to get an answer unless you ask. And so that's where I would encourage people just to start asking, start looking at things.

 

Mike Swenson 

For me, you know, with our flip that we did, I've told some people in the past, like, for me, it was I looked at my drive from work to home every day, and I looked at what would be some great investment properties along my drive, because my wife was in getting your master's degree at the time, and I didn't want to have to drive somewhere way out of the way. So I would, you know, go to work, I packed my tools in my car and a change of clothes. And on my way home, I would stop off and work for two or three hours at night while she was either at class or studying. And then I would drive home and on the weekends, we would have some help from friends and family that would come and help out and, and we just chipped away and chipped away.

 

Mike Swenson 

So you know, that's where Yeah, you can't get to done unless you start. And so really, it's just finding a way to start looking at some properties, looking at the rents in the area. You know, I knew in both of these cases with our townhouse. And with this flip, I looked at what the rents are in the area, I ran the numbers, I looked at what the mortgage payment would be, I looked at what the rent was coming in, and I said, Okay, I can take a calculated risk here. And then I also ran some scenarios of what if it didn't work out, you know, what would I continue to lose money, or, or not in same thing with the contract for deed, I was just, you know, probably at that time a 26 year old kid. And our agent had talked to us about, you know, hey, I've got an investor that might want to buy this house and do a contract for deed.

 

Mike Swenson 

So I spent some time and I looked into it, and I, I researched it, I ran the numbers, and I looked at Okay, if if this person, you know, were to fault on the loan at this point, would I still be in the black? And I kind of looked at month by month, you know, over the course of that that payment period? Would I still be okay, and I thought hey, I continue to be okay. At that point, I was also helped by the fact that the market was kind of bottomed out and it was on its way back up. So I don't I don't think the homes could have went down much more. But it's all about starting right. And like I said, this is just, you know, young 20 something, Mike, I'm not in real estate, figuring it out. And so if I can do that, you know, obviously, if you're in the real estate industry, you have access to all these tools and resources and the MLS and great vendor relationships, you should be able to line something up pretty quickly if you're willing to jump over and make that risk.

 

Justin Rademacher 

Yeah, absolutely. You know, my biggest takeaway from what you just started talking about, if I were to just kind of lump it up into one, one word, would be leverage, you know, to get started, just go find your leverage, whether it be financing, whether it be time leverage, whatever that looks like for you just go find that leverage, so that you can get started. So and I know, there's essentially three different topics, and that was the first one, you know, we talked about your personal investments.

 

Justin Rademacher 

So let's move on to the next one, you know, in terms of the three area focus for real freedom, and well, you know, for the purposes of our discussion today, what would be the next the next category that you want to discuss?

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah,  I mean, for my wife and I want to encourage everybody, you have to get in the, in the habit of saving money, right. And so, I was fortunate enough, I took a money management class in high school, and I learned about the time value of money, right? That when you in Save, and invest $1, it's going to grow over time. And so there's other concepts we can talk about in the future, but I just knew, at the very least, I had to save early and save often. And so when I got my first job right out of right out of college, you know, I started saving, and I was fortunate enough to be at a company where they gave me a matching contribution.

 

Mike Swenson 

And they also had a profit share was kind of what I was classified as, even though it's a nonprofit, but they made contributions to the employees each year to the point where, you know, when I was first starting out, I was making less than $30,000 a year in my first job, and I was still saving, what would be a counting of roughly 20 to 25% of my annual salary through my contributions, the match, and this profit share distribution that was paid out as well. So 20 to 25% of my salary, even though my salary wasn't much it helped build the muscle of saving. And so I did that year over year. And so as we got older, and as we added kids and insurance costs, it gets a lot harder to do. But it's it's easy to start with something so so we started there.

 

Mike Swenson 

When I got into real estate, and I no longer had a 401k that I contributed to. We just upped the giving on or up to contribution on my wife's side. So my wife was putting away 20% of her paycheck every month and it's one of those things Were out of sight out of mind, I can't give that advice enough that you need to find a way to get it out of sight out of mind and automate it. Because otherwise, you're going to spend it if you have it, so you've got to get it out of there. So I always say you can't, you can't see the money or get used to having it. So what what I would do is I would set up if I had a, you know, on our payroll system, if a payment was coming in the 15th of the month, and the last of the month, I would set up I had a high yield savings account.

 

Mike Swenson 

High yield is in quotations, because what's really high yield in terms of a savings account, but still, it's better than what the bank gave you. But I would set it up where if my paycheck was going in the 15th of the month, the 16th of the month, I had a an amount going into this savings account. So it was out of sight out of mind. And I would do that middle of the month and the end of the month. And I did that month after month, year after year to where now I've been doing that for over 15 years, the money hits the account, and I set aside a certain amount that was going out. And then every couple months, I check it, I can move it, I can do other things with it. If we, you know, had a car that we wanted to pay off, I would take some of that money, if we wanted to invest in another area, I could do that.

 

Mike Swenson 

But it was a way to build a forced savings plan to be able to do that. So that was in addition to our 401k contributions. The other thing is I've done that with our kids savings accounts setting up the automatic withdrawal, I have an investment account that I've used, I set up the automatic withdrawal every month, the money just coming out. And what I would do is every 356 months, I would reassess our income and our expenses. And I would look at Can I can I can I raise that up a little bit, you know, if it's $100 a month, could I go to 150. Or if it's $50 a month, can I go to 75. So it's just start with something, and the nest egg can't grow unless you do something about it. And so start small, and there's times where I've had to increase it. And then we have a kid and have a bunch more expenses, or our insurance costs come up quite a bit to be able to pay for that kid.

 

Mike Swenson 

So there's times where I've lowered it a little bit. And yet, having that habit of for savings over 15 years has allowed us to put a lot of money out of sight out of mind that we've used in various ways over the years. So that would be you know, kind of on the finance side, it's great to have an income. And yet you also have to get in the habit of savings, you have to be in the habit of spending less than you make every month. And that's just time on task over time, it's going to continue to grow. So that you can find fun ways to spend that money. But if you don't have that money, there's nothing fun that you can do with it, and you're just accumulating more debt.

 

Mike Swenson 

So that's been another key pillar for us, in our financial situation over over these last 15 plus years has just forced savings, moving it out of the account. And just being consistent with that. And you know, to be able to be in a habit where like I said to have 20% of a paycheck go out of out of there to where I don't even see it. Now we're just spending the money that's there. And we know that we're we're growing our savings by getting it out of our sight out of our mind.

 

Justin Rademacher 

Yeah and it blows my mind, you know, when you were talking about how fresh out of college, you know, your first job, you were only making, you know, 30,000, whatever it was, you know, I think a lot of us can relate right? A lot of us have been in that situation ourselves, you know, myself included, that's about what I was making fresh out of college, right, and it blows my mind that you were able to still put away, you know, 25%, roughly of that through a variety of different avenues and working smarter, not harder.

 

Justin Rademacher 

So for those people that are maybe you're still watching this, and they're in that current situation, I think it provides a little bit of hope. And a little bit of I can do this, I just need to get started. So if you were to say, let's say I'm somebody who's not, I'm not putting any money away, I'm making $30,000 a year, I want to start putting some money away, I want to start creating some something for my future. What would you say in your professional expert opinion, what would be the very first thing they should start doing? If they're not doing anything?

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, and it doesn't have to be a professional or expert. It's just, you know, there's a couple of great savings accounts that you can have online savings account. I know Ally Bank is one I also having been in kind of the finance blogging world a little bit over the past few years. I know there's a lot of, you know, most folks I should say most that's probably generalizing, but there's a lot of folks out there that recommend, you know, Ally Bank, or Capital One has a Capital One 360 savings account. Either one of those are great online tools. And all you have to do is just sign up for an account.

 

Mike Swenson 

You don't need to have any money in there. You just sign up for the account, and you set up that account and then you tie it to your bank account. So I don't I have a different bank that we use. And I just set up those accounts and you can link the account and so once you link The account, you can set up, it's so automated these days, it's so dialed in, you could pick what day of the month, what amount you want to go out. And you do Do you want that to be repeating. So that's where I said, I have one thing we're on the 15th of the month, pulled this amount out from my checking account into this online savings account. And you can even have multiple online savings accounts. So I used to have one for car savings.

 

Mike Swenson 

So then we continue to contribute to that. So after we pay off a car, we would save for the next car, I had another one where it was a at one time it was a vacation account, where a certain amount of money each month would go into that. And then when we have a certain amount we go on a vacation or it could be you know downpayment on the next house, when we were looking at our next house, I had another account set up as a down payment. So I would have, you know, if you could picture, the 15th of the month, three different contributions were going from my checking account into these forced savings accounts is kind of what I call them.

 

Mike Swenson 

Then same thing on the 30th of the month or the 31st of the month, that same thing happens. And so yeah, go set up an account at one of those two institutions, link it to your bank account, and pick an amount that you can figure out that you can you can live without, and just start somewhere, right 25 bucks a month, do it two times if you get paid two times a month, or if you get paid one time a month. Or if you have five closings a month, and you get paid five times a month, just set it up, pick an amount and start there. And then see if you can slowly start to grow that that's 25 bucks, go to the 35 bucks does 25 bucks go to 50 bucks or 100 bucks or, you know, and then you can always do a one time contribution, right. So I do the forced stuff to just get it out.

 

Mike Swenson 

So I don't have to think about it. And then if I had a great month or something big came in, then I move that money out as fast as I can. And then the other thing that we were smart with is anytime we add a pay raise, I would take half of that pay raise and just increase that contribution. So I'd only feel half of the pay raise. The other half was just increased savings into those accounts.

 

Justin Rademacher 

Yeah, I'm learning a lot, right. And I'm taking a lot of mental notes down here. And the common theme here for me that I'm hearing from you, is just start, just get started. If you're not doing anything, just start somewhere. Again, john is better than perfect. You know, and I you know, I know transitioning into the third topic here that you want to talk about, I think will help wrap and pull everything together. But let's talk about that next category that you that you want to talk about and discuss.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, so I think the third piece of my life then that I'm looking at, you know, where can I spend a lot of attention, it's on, you know, I'm calling it kind of your time and your skill investments, right. So I've had a great opportunity to, to learn from a lot of great people, both before real estate and in real estate. And so what I'm choosing to do here moving forward is to really invest in people and in systems, and also people systems, which I'll talk a little bit more about. But you know, it's teaching people how to think and so, you know, on our team, we're always talking about how can you work smarter versus harder.

 

Mike Swenson 

How you invest your time really matters. And so, you know, that at some point, there's, there's a kind of a law of diminishing returns. And so you have to figure out, how do I break through some of those plateaus to where I can scale my business and scale my income. So, you know, I was fortunate to have six years, where I was able to help team owners. In my role on the operation side, I helped team owners, you know, recruit onboard, train, and help their agents succeed. And those were for their businesses.

 

Mike Swenson 

And so I woke up and looked up and I said, hey, I've helped a lot of people build their businesses, it's time to help build our business. And so that's where I decided to, to launch a team. And I wanted leverage, right. And so I could be the person that does all the things and hire all the people. And and I wanted to stay in my sweet spot, which is setting up systems and setting up the backend. So I found a great person and Justin, that we were like minded. I think that we had a vision for where we wanted to go in our future. We both have big aspirations. And I paid for that leverage, right? I could have done it myself. And I realized I don't want to do all those things.

 

Mike Swenson 

I'm not the best person to do it. And so I found Justin and Justin and I have really worked well together. And I look at it as you know, I essentially got my, you know, think about your experience in something as an education as well. Right. So my time at my previous brokerage and my previous team was essentially an MBA in building systems, building businesses, scaling businesses and helping people to succeed. And so I took that education and I'm and I'm moving forward with it and implying those applying those things for our team. You know, and one of the things that I've had the opportunity in real estate I've seen that so many times people get into real estate, the I joke with people that beauty is anytime you want to start a conversation with somebody they know you're in real estate, they always say I've thought about getting into real estate, you know, who hasn't at least thought of getting into real estate.

 

Mike Swenson 

What happens is, so many times they want freedom, and they want the unlimited income. And what they don't realize is that it takes a sacrifice to be able to make the income that you want to make. And so, so many times people get into real estate, and they're showing up just like it's a job, or not even a job, right, if it's, you know, for being real honest, they're not spending the same amount of time, they would as if they were hired for a 40 hour a week job. And they look at it, and they're short sighted in their thinking. So I want to encourage people think about the future as you think about your career in real estate. And this could be whether you're an agent, whether you're an admin, whether you're a lender, you know, whatever that path is, in the real estate industry have that long term picture of what you can build over time.

 

Mike Swenson 

And so what I encourage people is don't think of it as you know, if I'm going to make $50,000, this year, in my first year as an agent, that is not the same as $50,000, working at some corporate job, because what's going to happen two years from now, three years from now, five years from now, on that corporate job, you might get a 2% cost of living increase, you might get a promotion, you might make an extra $5,000 next year, but it's going to be pretty incremental, in most cases, think about your first couple of years in real estate as your education in real estate, to build massive wealth long term, you have to have that long term mindset.

 

Mike Swenson 

So don't think of your one as Oh, I made just as much as I made in my previous job, or I made half as much in my previous job, because what you're selling yourself short on is thinking, what can I make two years, five years, 10 years from now, you could double your income every year for five years, you know, there's agents out there, there's teams out there that have done that. And so don't sell yourself short on year one or year two, because all the all the fruit that's going to come is going to be three 510 years down the road. And so think about it long term. Think about it as you're building a business, right? These are assets that you're that are gonna pay off for you later in life. So your database, when you're talking with your database, these are people assets, right?

 

Mike Swenson 

They're people that, you know, like and trust, and they know like and trust you. And that's going to pay off over time, right, you're building great relationships for five years, 10 years down the road. And so, you know, the other thing is, if you sell a house this year, and you did a great job, it might take seven years before that person moves again, you know, so you have to stay in the business long enough to reap those rewards So, so think long term about that. You really have a front row seat, anywhere you are in real estate, a front row seat, to be able to have these resources available to you, you know the MLS, you can look up any property and see what it's sold for when it's sold. You can look at trends in a neighborhood you want to live in, you know, these are all things that I've done, a place that we wanted to move to, I had a search setup of all the neighborhoods for three years.

 

Mike Swenson 

So I knew every house that sold in that neighborhood like that's, that's that's stuff that you just can't put a price on in another industry. And I always tell people, you know, if you were working as a stock trader, that would be called insider trading, right. And that would be illegal. And you could go to jail for a long time for insider trading. Here in real estate, you can know all the information you need to know about neighborhood sales, you know, who's paid what, you've got great lender relationships to learn up about the financing piece, the numbers, and all that is for your benefit. And so this isn't like you know, in the in the stock world, or you could get arrested for insider trading, you have all the insider tools, so use them to your advantage to help you build wealth.

 

Mike Swenson 

And the other thing I would encourage people on is don't compare your beginning to somebody else's middle so or end, you know, you might look up and you see an agent that has more success than you and you think I just can't do it. That's because they're further along the road than you or if they start out in real estate and they have great success. Maybe they had some more transferable skills along the way, maybe they had a bigger network than you. And that's okay, you have time to still go build that network. So, so having that long term vision is really important. I've also seen people you know, they they tend to broker shop or team shop, right?

 

Mike Swenson 

Like I could go get this split here, I could get this split here, this cap here, that cap there. And what they're doing is they're selling themselves short because what she loses, I kind of say it's like if you were running around from brokerage to brokerage or team, the team or whatever with a backpack on, you're just kind of thinking I can carry my business with me but what you don't what you don't realize is you're having to stop right like all your your people in your database, you're having to stop that move somewhere else plug into a new set of systems, that stuff takes time.

 

Mike Swenson 

So every time you jump ship and you move and you move and you move, or eventually you get out of real estate, you haven't had a chance to see the fruit grow Like I'm pouring the, I'm putting the seeds in, I'm watering it. And then I'm like scooping up the roots to go put in another plant, and then I go watered a little bit more, and then I scoop up the roots and I go put it in another plant, well, that plants not going to grow as quickly as if you just leave it put your roots down and grow. So have that long term vision for your real estate career.

 

Justin Rademacher 

Yeah, you know, for me, the biggest thing, my takeaway from what you were just saying, too, is. And what I'm really, really excited and passionate about is how we are helping we, you know, we could we could feed people, or we could teach them how to fish, right? So you can feed somebody fish, you know, everybody's familiar with that, that story, right? Or you could teach them how to fish. And that's what I'm excited about what you and I here are building is we're teaching people how to go out and fish and build their business business. 

 

Justin Rademacher 

I like to say build a predictable, sustainable business, because both are equally important. Right? So I'm really excited about that. And I'm really excited that we're like minded in that in that sense, right. And I think it's really important how you were talking about, you know, really setting roots down and building those roots, I think is, is crucial, because there are in this industry, there's a lot of turnover, right. And I think people just either don't stay where they're at long enough, or they don't stay in the business long enough. And I think that's absolutely crucial and a great point,

 

Mike Swenson 

You've got to let some time for the flower to bloom a little bit, right. And that doesn't mean that you can't switch. And yet, you know, some somebody really wise once told me what if you treated the opportunity you're in as the best opportunity for you at that time, instead of looking at the grass is greener over here, greener over here, show up in a way where this is my best opportunity right now. And if I nail it here, it'll provide me more opportunities in the future. But too many times people just treat it like I can jump, jump, jump, and you know, you're you're selling yourself short.

 

Mike Swenson 

So take in that opportunity also means knowledge, connections with people, it's not just the financial piece of what dollar is coming in, but it's who you surround yourself with that stuff really matters as well. And then the other thing too, is if you think about it, you can make what a great pain doctor or lawyer can make in real estate. But what happens for a doctor or a lawyer, right, like they have to spend years and years going to school, hundreds of 1000s of dollars in debt in many cases, and you may not even see your first income until you're five years, 10 years down the road, right? So you're doing all of those things in real estate, what's it really costing us less than, at least in Minnesota, less than 1000 bucks in 90 hours of my time.

 

Mike Swenson 

Now I have the opportunity to go make what that person can make. And so don't be surprised if it takes you a little bit longer to make that because you really haven't had much of a commitment there. You know, they're spending 510 years of their lives and hundreds of 1000s of dollars to invest in their future. And we get frustrated after three months if we don't have a closing. Or if we only have one closing or two closings or after my first year. I didn't make as much as I made in my previous job. Well, guess what, it might take a little bit more time to learn a completely new industry. And that's okay. Think about your 10 years from now you're 20 years from now what that's going to look like so, so so have that mindset.

 

Mike Swenson 

The other thing that really excites me, you know, as we as we think about the long haul, you know, I look at it, you know, my role in in a couple different spots here. One is my role in real freedom, right? Like, why am I here to help those of you listening or those of you watching, whether it's now or in the future on YouTube. You know, I want to inspire you guys in real estate, whichever spot you're in, to be able to tell stories of people that are in the industry, helping you find maybe your next step. And so I'm looking for a diverse group of people, whether that's different spots in the industry, different brokerages, different mindsets, whether it's you know, customer facing or backend facing, I want to just provide a lot of stories for you guys, to find something to inspire you.

 

Mike Swenson 

Not every story is going to inspire you the same way as others. But I just want to provide a diverse background of stories to be able to share with you. I'm going to continue to talk about you know, money and wealth building. And if that's not your natural fit, that's okay. plug into the group as much as you can. And eventually something's going to click, you're going to pick up a tip here, you're going to pick up something there. So I'm committed to you guys here at real freedom to just to continue to tell talk about money talk about wealth building. And for those of you that want to run with it great for those of you it might take six months, it might take 12 months for you before stuff starts to click, that's okay too. I'm going to continue to provide training and resources for you guys.

 

Mike Swenson 

People that you can connect with, you know, this is a community of people. So if you're looking for a lender ask post on the group asked about that, if you have a certain question that you want to know, ask it in the group, right? Like we're here to help each other on this journey together and it's a safe space, right because it's all bro crutches all roles, anything in real estate, we're here to connect with each other. And then to for those of you that want some accountability, to hit your year end goals, or as you're thinking about next year for goals, I'm here to to be a coach for you, you know, you're never going to take something as serious as if you're paying somebody to help you to do that, right. And that's the value of coaching.

 

Mike Swenson 

So if you want to get serious about your next financial step, give me a call, let me know, let's set up an exploration call. And we can talk about what that looks like. And I guarantee you, the amount that you're paying for coaching is going to be dwarfed into the amount of what you're going to save, when you start to watch your finances when you have to talk to me about your finances. Or as you have to talk about your future goals, your incomes going to go up, right, your investments are going to go up because we're talking about it together. So if you're just looking for that person that you can share, and that you can have that accountability with, I'm going to be here to coach you to your goals that you want to achieve financially. And we'll talk about how that's possible.

 

Mike Swenson 

So that's really how I see real freedom fitting into to your lives as most even guys here listening and watching. In addition to that, just so you kind of know a little bit more about how I'm wired and how Justin and I are wired together on a team, I'm just going to share with you a little bit about our team too, and how we're helping people to think differently in real estate, right? So an agent comes on our team, and we're going to talk about the fundamentals right, like we're going to talk about your database, we're gonna talk about what is your daily activities look like? How can we track that? What scripts are you going to use all that stuff is important? And yet, most teams talk about that in a certain way, right?

 

Mike Swenson 

Some teams have great leverage that you can use for listings and transactions and all that kind of stuff. And so there's that, in addition to that, though, our team, we talk about how you show up like a business owner, right? That's not something that every team is going to talk about. Some do, which are fantastic, but we're going to talk about that, you know, you are a business partner with us? And how do you leverage the systems and the tools and the people that we have in place for you to grow your business. And the cool thing is, is the brokerage that we're aligned with, you have the opportunity, if you want to go start your own team, or if you want to go off on your own and be a solo agent, after you've been on our team for a while happy day, I love it. I'm excited to see somebody grow. And we're, we're mute, it's mutually beneficial for both of us to do that as well, too.

 

Mike Swenson 

So if you want to be on our team, fantastic, if you want to stay at the brokerage and go do your own thing, fantastic, we'll help you do that. And so that's the beauty of the alignment that we have. And so we want to see you grow, and it's not our shucks, this person left our team, it's great this person is launching into the next phase of their career. And that's really impactful. And we're gonna encourage you to do that. And we're going to help you with those next steps. You know, Justin, and I will put together a plan to launch you into the next phase of your career. That's how we want to see you succeed. In addition to that, we're going to talk about how to build long term wealth, right. So all the things that we've kind of been touching on a little bit here with my story, we talk about the cashflow quadrant, right.

 

Mike Swenson 

For those that haven't read Robert Kiyosaki his book on cashflow quadrant, we talk about that stuff. We talk about your mindset, not just short term mindset, but long term mindset. We're talking about business structure, how do you set up your business, you know, whether it's an LLC, or whatever that looks like for you as a 1099 contractor on our team, and then tax planning stuff around that I just had a great opportunity to take part in a great tax planning webinar the other day, and we learned a lot of great things which I'm going to share with the team right so it's this long term stuff that we're talking about to your dollar prower activities and how you can grow that. In addition to that, another thing I'm really excited about is we're talking about building different streams of income long term right?

 

Mike Swenson 

That's not just about buying and selling real estate, we're helping you to grow your wealth through being a part of our team so you know we have a program where we we've partnered with legalshield and Id shield to implement into our business in a respa compliant way so that we can add real value to your clients and also give an opportunity for you to earn some additional money so the vision that we're setting for ourselves for the people on our team is what if three years from now mister missus agent you were making enough money in a different stream of income here to where all of your agent commissions were just bonus money on top of your living expenses.

 

Mike Swenson 

Or you know, if you knew that your car payment your food and your your rent or your mortgage payment were taken care of every month, what more can we do for you? How do we help you invest that difference and really go and build some wealth. So if you're in real estate and you haven't heard about legal shield, their ID shield, you absolutely need to reach out to me it's super important that you at least learn and understand what it is because I think it's a game changer, big time for you. And so find out how you can add these little value add pieces to your team. So that they can grow long term income.

 

Justin Rademacher 

For you, I know that the legal shield thing has already been a game changer, right? And you're experiencing some of the benefits of that, too. So, I, I'm, I'm excited about how excited you get about this topic and what we're building because I think, you know, success is sequential, right? When one person has success to one, it compounds itself. But what it also does is it inspires other people I know it's inspired me and I was inspired some other people on our team. And that's really exciting. So I would say, if you have no idea what Mike is talking about, you're at a really good spot. hat you should do is if you're wondering about what that next step is, reach out to Mike, or myself, and we can help you with what that next step is.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah and the other thing, too, I mean, the the vision is, so if we're talking about an agent, you know, in three years of being able to take care of their living expenses, what if you, as a team owner, were able to take care of all your fixed expenses in your real estate business, through this opportunity that legalshield and Id shield can provide to where any closing that happens, may have a little bit of a variable costs associated with it, but maybe that's just profit too. And so for you, as a team owner, you can benefit in a big way too. So there's a lot of different things that we can do. And that's just one stream of income, right?

 

Mike Swenson 

So some of the other streams of income that we have is, you know, part of our brokerage, we have an opportunity to take part in a revenue share program, right. So, you know, we help agents succeed, we help agents have closings, and the brokerage helps to pay us for that, right. And so that's an awesome benefit. They also have stock options that they work to us, you know, to the point of where, if I'm being honest with you, Justin, I get an email saying, hey, you've, you've been given some stock, I don't even know what I did, sometimes to be able to get that. And I'm doing nothing different that I did, or that any real estate team owner would do. And yet, now we just have the option of or they give us stock for stuff.

 

Mike Swenson 

There's also a stock purchasing program forced savings, right, just like I talked about in the past, I can now save money or invest money into a stock at a discount. Through part of my closings, it's out of sight out of mind, I only see the money that hits my bank account. And what I don't understand is 5% of that is going to buy and purchase additional stock, right? That's an additional investment for us. So showing our agents how to take advantage of that. Also, we have, you know, we're talking on our team, how can we help people with real estate investments, you know, we talked about my story. And yet I want everybody on my team to have a story if they want it in terms of real estate investment.

 

Mike Swenson 

So we'll help you, we'll reach out to vendors to help you with financing, we'll help you pick properties or, or find your buy box, that's a fit for you. So we'll walk through all that stuff for you. So, you know, for us, and this is, you know, I'm sharing what we're doing on our team. Not really as a recruitment, but it's also as a way to inspire you, if you guys are in real estate, if you have a team, if you're part of a different industry, say a lender, title company, how are you inspiring your people in your company to take advantage of some of these opportunities in real estate to So talk to me, I'd be happy to share this stuff with you. So you can take it to your own team. It's not just about my team, it's about helping people in real estate build wealth.

 

Mike Swenson 

So that's what I'm just sharing, you know, this isn't, like I said, this isn't a recruiting pitch of why you should join my team. It's, here's what I'm doing to help inspire others, because Justin, you and I talked about, you know, part of it is bringing people in, part of them is getting into production. And then part of them is is helping them long term. And that's really the kind of the end cap on my investment in people is how do we help people? You know, if I showed up at a job, and I made some money, and I went to a different industry, like what what do I really have to show for it at the end of the day. And so I'm passionate about, I want people that are part of my world to have something to show for it. So Justin, you know, you and I are in business together.

 

Mike Swenson 

If you know a year from now, or two years from now, an opportunity comes up and you have to move away, I want you to be able to say I have more to show for this as a part of being a part of Mike's world and Mike's team than when I started. And so that's my commitment to everybody in our team is how do we have them to where they can leave knowing I've gained wealth or I've learned something that's helping me in my wealth building approach as a result of being a part of this team. The one other thing that I just want to add is, you know, when you're a part of our world, I really believe that you know, we're we're all built for something great. And I'm not going to allow people to sell themselves short, right.

 

Mike Swenson 

Part of being a great coach right is you believe in somebody more than they probably believe in themselves. And so that's something that I'm excited about is I know everybody listening to this can implement something that's going to change their world, it's going to change the next step in their career trajectory. And so if you need a pep talk for me, reach out to me because I believe in you probably, you know, for some of you more than you believe in yourself, and I'd be happy to, to Pep you up and give you an encouragement, so that you can go on and tackle that next obstacle you're going after, you know, and for me, you know, what keeps me motivated, is, you know, I, I listened to a podcast that was very inspiring a couple years ago, and they talked about this person's biggest fear was getting to the end of their life, and meeting the person that you could have been.

 

Mike Swenson 

So that's always been something that struck a chord with me, as I sit back, and I think about and I visualize, what would it be like, you know, pretend I'm, you know, hopefully 80 year old Mike or, you know, 90 year old Mike, whatever that looks like, and I go, and I meet the the 90 year old Mike that did everything right. And, you know, is the person that I could have been? And I see that gap, you know, that's the piece that really sits with me, is seeing that gap of who could I have helped, that I didn't? What are the risks that I didn't take that I may be missed out on?

 

Mike Swenson 

The people, like I said, that I could have poured into that I did the relationships that that I could have had, that I didn't and I'm not perfect in any means. You know, there's, there's a lot of stuff that I know that I'm not good at, there's a lot of stuff that I want to improve on, there's a lot of things that I can get better at. So thankfully, I'm not there yet. But I'm really approaching life with it with a new sense of passion, a new sense of adventure, and a new sense of urgency, right? I think this this period of our lives has showed us that, you know, business changes, outside circumstances changes thing. And we may not have the time that we thought to pivot and put our ducks in a row for the future.

 

Mike Swenson 

I'm also taking more risks than I have in the past, right, the guy who never used to take risks, poured all in and went all in on building this team, and building this real freedom community to be able to bless people in the future. So, you know, I'm certainly not the same person that I was a couple years ago, I'm absolutely not the same person I was when Justin I first met, and these last nine months here have have really shaped me. But it's just been a phase of massive growth for me, and I'm excited about the future. I'm excited about, you know, just and who you are and how much you've grown and, and who you're becoming and how many more people we can impact in the future, both on our team and in the real estate community through real freedom, right? It's it's not about us, it's about helping people build wealth and really grow through being a part of the of the real estate community, right?

 

Justin Rademacher 

Yeah, absolutely. And I'm excited about, you know, I'm not the same person I was a year ago, six months ago, even three months ago. And that's the beautiful part about what we're building here is it's an evolutionary process. We're always growing because we're growth minded, we're always growing, right? We're always figuring out how can I get better? How can I get that 1% better? If I'm getting 1%? Better, I'm still moving forward. At least I'm not saying staying stagnant and or, worse yet moving backwards, right? How can I just move 1% 1% forward?

 

Justin Rademacher 

I feel like we have done that we are doing that. And we're gonna we're gonna continue to do that. And that's what I'm excited for, you know, in the next year, 234 or five years? Yep. I know that we're coming up close to time here. So if you want to give any closing thoughts, and then also maybe touch base on, you know, a call to action, you know, some if someone is thinking like, Man, this is just really resonated with me, I don't know where to start. How can they get, you know, how can they get ahold of you?

 

Mike Swenson 

You know, if you do want to get a hold of me, I'd be happy to help out. You can you can call me or text me on my cell phone, my numbers 612-978-4485. If you want to reach out to me, my email address is [email protected] and I'd be happy to have a conversation with anybody, even if it's, you know, just how did you do that? Or what do you think about that? I'm always open to connecting with people and helping people you know, that's really what I want to do is to be able to give back so don't be afraid if you're watching this or listening to this later.

 

Mike Swenson 

Reach out to me. Let's have a conversation. Anything else that you want to add?

 

Justin Rademacher 

Nope.

 

Mike Swenson 

All right. Well, thanks so much, everybody for listening. We really appreciated it and if you have questions, reach out to us, let us know we'd be happy to help and happy to inspire somebody or point them in the right direction on their journey towards financial freedom. So thanks.

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