Surround yourself with people who align with your values. Moneeka Sawyer’s guest in this episode is Steven Pesavento, President of VonFinch and host of the Inventor Mindset Podcast. Steven talks with Moneeka about how he turned from failure at 27 to flipping 200 houses in less than three years. His secret? He changed his mindset from not valuing coaches, to going out of his way to connect with them. Be around mentors who’ve been where you want to go. With their guidance, you’ll skyrocket your way to unprecedented success. Tune in!
I am so excited to welcome to the show, Steven Pesavento. Steven is a real estate entrepreneur and expert relationship direct response marketer. He’s a Managing Partner of VonFinch Capital and investing full-time since 2016. He’s completed over 200 transactions, renovated nearly 100 houses, and transacted over $26 million in residential investment real estate. Steven’s investors have entrusted him with over $10 million of investor capital, delivering solid, consistent returns. Steven is the host of the top-rated show, The Investor Mindset and he interviews some of the smartest investing minds and authors like Chris Voss from Never Split The Difference, Jay Papasan from The ONE Thing and we had his wife on the show, which was amazing, then also Joe Fairless from Best Ever Podcast and many others.
Steven, welcome to the show.
I’m so excited to be here. I love your energy. That’s what energy everybody should be bringing to their life.
We talk a lot about this on the show and you are a mindset guy so we will cover this too but our attitude is everything in our businesses, our lives and for our bliss. Wouldn’t you agree?
I agree absolutely.[bctt tweet=”Surround yourself with mentors who’ve been where you want to be. ” via=”no”]
You’ve got this awesome story. I can’t wait to know about it where you went basically from a failure at 27 to 200 flips in less than three years. Could you tell us your story at a high level?
When I’ve got started in real estate, I had some of the same feelings a lot of you feel and almost every new operator has gone through this at some point. You have that desire. You want real estate to be your thing. You are excited about what it can do for you. The financial freedom bug has bitten you but there’s something that seemed to hold me back from taking action. I started my career back in management consulting and I thought that I had it all figured out.
I thought that if I go this traditional path, go to university, graduated from a great school and get a killer job, I was making more money than I ever could have imagined and making more money than my parents growing up. As a kid, we didn’t grow up with a lot. There was one subject in our house that always caused pain and that came down to money. Always the focus was, how I can create more? How can I make sure that I don’t ever have to feel those feelings? I’ve got into the career and it didn’t solve all the problems.
I had the money but I didn’t have the answers. I started going on this journey where I’ve finally got down, ready to get started in real estate and a lot of false starts but the beliefs were what was really holding me back. It was that belief that I didn’t have enough experience, the family connections, the money and know people with lots of money. All these things were a wall in front of me wanting to get started. I can remember when I finally made that decision to move forward and dive in. I was sitting on the couch of my girlfriend’s home at that time, jumping up and I said, “I’m doing this, not another day, not another minute. I am going to make real estate my career.” That day, I decided that I was going to push all in. That’s my mentality. It’s 100% once I decide something, it’s done.
From there forward, I was able to scale up to over 200 houses in about two and a half years flipping in two different states. Out-of-state, I was able to do this all by building great systems, hiring a great team and most importantly, getting surrounded by mentors who had already been down the path. I’ve got some stories that I can share about exactly how I went about doing that but that was the key to my success. I made a decision after I had got clear on what I wanted, and then I found a way to get surrounded by other people who had already done it.
I talk a lot about finding a mentor in this show. How did you find your mentors? There are a lot of people out there talking about this stuff.
There are a lot of people who are real estate professionals. They maybe flip some houses, buying multifamily or some rentals. There are a lot of folks that you can look to but what you need to start and where I always advise all my clients, friends and audience. I’m the host of The Investor Mindset show. We dive into a lot of these types of conversations about thoughts and how those thoughts lead into action but it’s about figuring out what do you want first. What do you want and why is that important to you? It comes to the who and then once what that is, then you go and find somebody who already has been down that path and already done it.
For me, I found a local real estate investor event. It was the first action that I took. It was the same day that I made this decision. It’s what I recommend everyone else do. When they make a decision, they should immediately take some action. I committed myself to go to this event. One of the speakers happened to be a very well-experienced real estate flipper. I researched this person in depth. I listened to every show I could find. I tried to ask myself, “How could I be of value to this person? How could I make a difference in this person’s life? What skills, knowledge or frankly, the fact that I have time, how could I make an impact?” I thought of this plan, went to the event, listened, asked questions, engaged during the conversation, and then waited until everyone else had left and the conversations had died down, as all these people were going to go and talk to the speaker, that’s what often happens.
I made a pitch and my pitch was, “I will do this for you and build you this $10,000 to $15,000 website for free. All I’m asking is if I can be a part of your inner circle and if I might be able to follow you around at a property or ask you some questions from time to time.” Before I could even finish asking or making the offer, her hand was out in front, ready to shake it to lock it in it. It was because I found a way to be of value to her, to be able to help make her life easier and better. I thought to myself, “What are those skills that I could do?’
The reason that I went this route was that at that time, I had a lot more time than I did money. I had a lot of beliefs about coaching, training and spending money on these things. I didn’t know that that was only limiting my success. Fast forward, I ended up joining a Mastermind group that I was able to get surrounded by 50 other people who all had the same dream, many of who already were on that path and a few who already had that success. By being a part of that community, I was able to see the exact formula, the blueprint about how my business could look. That gave me the belief because I said, “If they can do it, then I can definitely do it.” I modeled my business that first year. We had flipped over 75 houses.
That’s another one of those things like there are a million masterminds. I probably get an invitation to a mastermind every single day. How did you pick the mastermind? Did you research everybody that was in it or what did you do?
The key to getting a part of a community is you have to one, it’s a little bit of luck but two, it’s mostly about showing up. I had committed myself to go to this event. It was the first conference that I have ever gone to. I ended up going to this conference and it was full of a ton of other people from the community who are also on that same path. There are many people who are friends of mine now because I met them at that first real estate conference. I had gone to many events and meetups. I had done plenty of free training but spending $1,000 to go to this conference for three days was a huge thing for me. Did I have the $1,000? No. Was I committed to going and finding even more people who I could get surrounded by? The answer is, absolutely.[bctt tweet=”Be clear on who you are, what’s important to you, and what you’re good at. ” via=”no”]
By getting into this community, I ended up going to the event. I did not join a mastermind and pay for any training as a result of going to that event. What I did was I’ve got connected to some amazing people. Through those amazing people, I ended up getting my mindset shifted on paying for coaching and mentorship. It was because of a business partner of mine that I, again, was trading my time to be able to do a bunch of services within his business to get access to some more training. Through that conversation, it ended up leading to a partnership and through his lessons, I ended up realizing the value of joining this mastermind. I thought, “I’m splitting with my partner. It seems like it’s a no-brainer,” and within about 24 hours of joining that group, I had already received enough value that directly led to paying for that whole $25,000 or $30,000 ticket price.
The lesson for me was, it was costing me money to be sitting on the sidelines and not taking action, not joining something. That’s not saying, “Go, fire off,” and buy any program but it’s about getting an experience with the people who are going to be a part of that program. It’s going to a webinar and training. It’s getting on a coaching call or strategy call with somebody who can talk through and help you gain clarity so that you know this is absolutely the direction I want to go. It seems like it’s a no-brainer for me to head down this path with you than to go but to try to go through the forest on my own without a map about exactly how I’m going to get where I need to go.
Steven, I love how incredibly concise you are, articulate and how you went boom. Thank you so much for that. I want to talk to you a little bit about this whole idea of building your business based on your clients. This is how I have always built my business so I love to know your perspective on what this is, first of all, because we all see things differently, how you have done it and advice around that.
It goes back to what we were talking about. I went from this place of this mindset and this belief that I can’t spend money on coaching. Otherwise, I’m a fool. I met people who had spent $30,000 or $40,000 on some program. I had thought to myself, “Those guys got hoodwinked.” I remember I can think of a couple of couples that I had met at the events and those people are complete idiots. Now, I realize that I’m an idiot but through that process and doing lots of coaching, mentorship, different programs and personal development, all these things, I ended up learning what was most important to me. I’ve got clear on who I was, what was important to me and what I was good at. Through that process of building my business, VonFinch flipping all of those properties, managing a team of fifteen people in two different states, and spending over $1 million in marketing in about a year and a half, I learned a lot about what I loved about the business and what I wasn’t in love with.
I came to this point where I thought to myself, “Is this the business that I want to be building for the next twenty years?” The answer was no. If you do the old rocking chair task or in this case, I better not be in a rocking chair at 50 but I was envisioning in this position in this place where I was going to keep running this house flipping business, this high-volume, a low-margin machine that was turning out deals and was making us great money. I realized this wasn’t where I wanted to be or what I wanted to be doing. Part of the reason was that the people that I was surrounded with weren’t in alignment with my values. I didn’t feel like I was serving on the level that I could and people weren’t open to these ideas that were so important to me.
I had been enlightened by the idea that mindset is the core of all success. When you can change your thoughts and beliefs, then you end up changing the actions you take and therefore, the outcomes that you experience in your life. Having this belief and realization, I wanted to share this with people around me. Fortunately, in my business, I was able to share that with my team, members of my mastermind community and certain clients but not all of them. As I looked at the flipping business, we are buying houses directly from homeowners, $0.60 to $0.70 on the dollar. We are doing that at volume and making a huge change in these people’s lives. We are changing their day-to-day. We are taking them out of a difficult situation and the majority of the people are absolutely thrilled but it wasn’t enough for me.
What I ended up doing was I started searching for some answers. As I was sitting, after learning and being reminded about the importance of this idea of an ideal client, I started thinking through how I could change my business to start serving these clients. I came back and started taking some action because that’s what I do, making some shifts to start focusing on the investor first and making our business about serving them. I also realized there’s something that’s still in alignment. It’s not quite there.
After getting to this point where I had already made this decision that it was time for a change, I ended up stumbling upon the power of multifamily real estate and frankly, commercial investment. As I started getting more familiar with that, I saw a lot of the attributes of things that I like. The ability to scale, to have economies of scale that can happen by buying multiple units at one given time and the professionalism that is true within the industry. What ended up leading me to was this idea that this could be a great place for our business to grow into. What ended up doing it for me was that I knew that at the end of the day, I wanted to be surrounded and working with people who are like me, who were success-minded, successful, have been earning a great income and want to figure out how can they create freedom flexibility and the ability to be able to make an impact in the world. You can do that directly by investing.
If you can start getting the money that you are making from hours worked or from companies that you own working in real estate, you can start to see massive growth happen. For me, the reason why that was so critically important was that the people that I’m surrounded with are the people that I ended up becoming like. I wanted to make sure, I am surrounded by people who are working at a high level and I’m able to make a direct impact.
The second big piece for me was thinking about one-time sales versus long-term continuous relationships. I’m a guy who likes to move fast, talk and I sometimes can be curt from moment to moment but when people know me, they know that I’ve got a big heart, I’m here to support them and I do care about their success. By building these relationships, I knew that this is a business that I would be thrilled to be in for the long-term. That’s what ended up leading to the shift of deciding that this is the path we needed to go. We completely changed our business a few years ago to help be able to support and move in this direction.
When you look at your clients that you are building this business around, from my perspective, we have three different clients. We have the client that we are buying from and hopefully, you build a relationship with because many of these clients that may have several properties or maybe they want to let go of an entire portfolio. There are the people that you are buying from, you sell to and the people that you work with. What is your biggest focus or do you focus on all three? Your team is also they are your clients, too.
At the core, we are clear on what our values are and we value the idea of partnering with experts throughout everything we do. We hire, partner and bring experts internally onto our team because we know that everyone has a unique ability. It’s something that they are amazing at. It’s their superpower. I know mine. You know yours. Our team members each know theirs. By being able to partner with experts, we can leverage what we are good at while leveraging a track record of years of experience in the business so that we have been able to scale quickly to be able to make a direct impact without necessarily having to go and do everything ourselves.[bctt tweet=”Hire and partner with experts. ” via=”no”]
We believe that we are putting our clients as well as our business, which is built upon our team, in a much better place by doing this because sometimes people get stuck in this idea that I need to get everything for myself. We are not like that. We truly believe that it’s all about when we do better, we all do better. We want to make sure that our limited partners and our investors are supported that they are going to do great in these deals. We want to make sure that our operating team on the ground is going to be well-supported and their experiences are going to help support all of us to be able to go out and do the things that matter most. In our real estate business, that’s our key focus. We know that we’ve got operators, people that we are purchasing deals from on the ground and investors. Throughout that experience, there’s a track record of who we are, how we show up, what’s important to us and all of those things end up coming true. Over time, we have developed into having a reputation that stands for exactly what I have been describing.
I love the way that you talk about your operators being in their genius zone. I’m doing a construction project and we have these balconies. We’ve got all this rod iron stuff and it was hideous. I walked upstairs to look at it up close and I was like, “This is horrible.” My contractors came out and they were like, “We agree with you.” I was like, “Thank goodness.” They worked hard to find this for me. We are looking for something different and one of the things that I have noticed is that I love working with exceptional people. He is an exceptional contractor. He makes my life and my business so much better. That’s so true that who we work with, those vendors and operators, all of those people are such a key piece to running a business that’s aligned with our values, that feels good and is sustainable over time. Thank you so much for mentioning that.
It has made such a big difference. We have clients on our investor side who, from time to time, will ask, “Why don’t you operate directly? You are in the market and have a good understanding, why don’t you put the team in place?” It’s asset management. It’s this and it’s that. The answer is, “You are absolutely right. We definitely could. We can hire internally and bring on people that are on a payroll that means that we get to make more money. The thought is that if we were to do that, we would be going against what we believe in, and then second, that we truly do believe that by going and partnering with somebody who is in their genius zone, their unique ability that’s good and has that track record, we are setting ourselves up to make a lot more money as a result.” Rather than doing the things that we don’t like doing, don’t fill us up and aren’t our unique ability than we are taking away from time that could be spent growing, making an impact and difference.
This conversation has been awesome. Tell everybody how they can reach you.
The best place to reach us is, if you have liked the conversation we have had, I encourage you to go subscribe to The Investor Mindset Podcast. If you liked what we talk about, we talk about this twice a week on the show. If you feel like this has been valuable and you enjoy the mindset stuff that I encourage you, we put together a great free resource at TheInvestorMindset.com/success where we are diving into the Top 5 Success Principles of a Successful Investor and lessons that have been learned over hundreds of interviews with some very impressive people. You can grab a copy of that. If you read and like what we are talking about, you can hit me up on any of the social media platforms, shoot a little DM over, let me know that you read about this show and I would love to connect with you.
Thank you so much for that. I love free gifts, too. That sounds amazing. It was a 5 Principles of Success of a Successful Investor, right?
Yes, that’s exactly it.
Thank you for that. Steven, are you ready for three rapid-fire questions?
Let’s do it.
Give us one super tip on getting started investing in real estate.
The most important tip when you are getting started real estate investing is to get clear on what you want, why you want it and then figure out who is going to help you get there. The reason why I have repeated this three times is that repetition is the mother of skill and the father of learning. If you are going to do this and you haven’t done it already, I encourage you to sit down and get clear on what is that thing that you want? What does life look like on the other side?
Once you get that clear, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that you are going to take the action to get there because you are going to be able to feel it. Sometimes people want that freedom, flexibility and independence but they don’t take this time upfront getting clear, and then you will end up where I was, where you built a successful business and made a huge impact, and then where you would say, “It’s time to pivot.” Even though I was clear on what I want, it wasn’t what I was going after. You might be able to save time by going directly to go rather than around the way. It’s just the way things go.[bctt tweet=”Maximize your time growing and making an impact. ” via=”no”]
That’s very aligned with how I teach people, too. Always start with you, build around the business around the truth of who you are and where you are headed. Talk to us a little bit about a strategy on how to be a successful real estate investor.
It starts with the exact same thing but when it comes down to investing, you want to be in a position where once you know those two things, then it’s time to take action and figure out who you are going to partner with, work with and help support you within your business. That might be employees, coaches, masterminds and training. Whatever those things are for you, you’ve got to get clear on who’s going to help get you there. That might mean going out to your network and saying, “This is what I’m doing and what I want to accomplish. Would you happen to know anyone who might be able to give me a lead or make a connection?” By going directly to people who already know, like and trust you that are in the space, they will be able to connect you to someone else and so on. It’s that power of your network that when you combine getting super crystal clear with going out and building phenomenal relationships and you bring those two pieces together, you will be in a strong position to not only scale but to do it in the right way.
What would you say is one daily practice you do personally that contributes to your success?
There’s a set of practices that I consider my one practice. Every single day I wake up with a movement, meditation, mapping and mindset. What I mean by that is I get up and I move for at least ten minutes. It’s often quite long but I will go for a great run. I get that blood flowing and I start to get my brain in a place where I’m ready to step into my day. I’m a lot smarter when I’m moving so will you? I encourage you all to do that. Meditation is a great way to slow down, especially if you are a driver type A person like me but even if you are not, we can start to see our thoughts and be able to catch ourselves when we are thinking something or we have a set of beliefs that aren’t serving us at that moment. I listen to some mindset. I love reading obviously great shows like the one you are reading, as well as other content that’s going to help enrich my brain and start putting me in the right state of mind for the day. Finally, I always start my day with a map with a very specific plan of what actions I’m going to take and what’s most important for me that day. When I do all four of these things, I end up operating and frankly, working from a much happier place.
How long does that whole process take for you normally?
It could take as little as 30 minutes or as long as an hour or hour and a half. It depends on the day but by committing just 5 minutes of breathing, 10 minutes of running, a quick 5-minute process of mapping out the day and while you are running, you can throw on a little something to motivate you to put in some of those thoughts and beliefs that you know are important. You can put that altogether or you can separate it out depending on what works best for you on each given day.
That’s so actionable. This has been awesome, Steven. Thank you for everything that you have offered in this portion of the show.
It has been amazing being here and the biggest thing that I want you to take away from this is that in every single conversation, everything that you listen to, every time you read about the show, listen to The Investor Mindset, read a book, go to a conference or open up some course that you are diving into, there is always something that you can take away but the most important thing is that you take some action on it. Decide what’s one thing from this episode that you can do, who is one person you can reach out to, and what’s one show you can follow that’s going to end up setting you up to be in a much better place. I encourage you to figure out what that is and take that action. I look forward to being able to serve you in the future.
Ladies, you can do that. I love the way Steven does that. I made a decision and that day, I met this person. Most of us don’t act that quickly on decisions that we make. One of the biggest determining factors for success is our ability to make quick good decisions. That means you have to be aligned and intuitive about what feels right, what feels wrong and what’s settling with your gut but you have to be able to make decisions fast and take action on them. That’s a huge characteristic of successful people. Thank you so much for highlighting that.
When you hear the story of me taking action, immediately deciding, and a week later being at an event and a few days later, having a mentor and a year later having 75 flips under my belt was that it took me ten years to get to the point of making that decision. It took a long time. I read Rich Dad Poor Dad when I was 17 and I was 27 by the time that I had bought my first property as an investment. It goes to show that in that moment I decided and everything great happened from there. Why wait ten years? Why not decide now?
We do have more in EXTRA. We are going to be talking about scaling a business remotely. Ladies, you know that for me, freedom of choice and freedom of time are the biggest things that I strive for. That’s how I define blessed. I want to be able to travel. I want to be able to spend time with my aging parents. Time is my thing. Systems, processes and your team allow you to create that freedom. Since Steven is an expert in this, I asked him to please share with us how he’s done it so we are going to be doing that in EXTRA. Definitely stay tuned for EXTRA for that. It’s going to be awesome. If you are not subscribed to EXTRA, you should get subscribed for this one.
Go to RealEstateInvestingForWomenExtra.com. The first seven days are free so you can try it out. Get this EXTRA and as many as you can download. If you love it, you stay and if you don’t, no obligation but check it out. For those of you that are leaving us now, thank you so much for joining Steven and me for this portion of the show. I look forward to seeing you next time and until then, always remember goals without action are just dreams so get out there, take action and create the life your heart deeply desires. I will see you soon. Bye.
Steven Pesavento is a real estate entrepreneur and Managing Partner of VonFinch Capital. Investing full time since 2016, he’s completed over 200 transactions, renovated nearly 100 houses and transacted over $26,000,000 in residential investment real estate. Steven’s investors have entrusted him with over $11 million of investor capital, delivering solid consistent returns.
A former Management Consultant for some of the Fortune 500’s top companies, he brings his years of process improvement, marketing and sales experiences to every project. Steven graduated with honors from prestigious St. John’s University in 2011 and is active in multiple charities including working with youth teaching business with Junior Achievement.
Host of the top ranked podcast the Investor Mindset he interviews some of the smartest minds & authors like Chris Voss – Never Split The Difference, Jay Papasan – One Thing, Joe Fairless – Best Ever Podcast, Mark Manson – Subtle Art of Not Giving A F&#k and many others.
Moneeka Sawyer is often described as one of the most blissful people you will ever meet. She has been investing in Real Estate for over 20 years, so has been through all the different cycles of the market. Still, she has turned $10,000 into over $5,000,000, working only 5-10 hours per MONTH with very little stress.
While building her multi-million dollar business, she has traveled to over 55 countries, dances every single day, supports causes that are important to her, and spends lots of time with her husband of over 20 years.
She is the international best-selling author of the multiple award-winning books “Choose Bliss: The Power and Practice of Joy and Contentment” and “Real Estate Investing for Women: Expert Conversations to Increase Wealth and Happiness the Blissful Way.”
Moneeka has been featured on stages including Carnegie Hall and Nasdaq, radio, podcasts such as Achieve Your Goals with Hal Elrod, and TV stations including ABC, CBS, FOX, and the CW, impacting over 150 million people.