The Locker Room Real Estate Show Podcast
JC 003: How to drive by your retirement fund with Rich Desich
Announcer: Welcome to the, “Real Estate Locker Room Show” with John Carney. Did you know investing in real estate is a team sport? Join John and his guests as they explore the business of real estate and athletic competition. The goal for this show is to grant you direct access to the real estate pros that are closing profitable deals and growing their businesses. On the “Real Estate Locker Room Show” we are getting in the ring with successful investors, developers, operators, and all of the industry professionals to learn what it takes to achieve on-going success. Now it’s time to kick-off and level up with new ways to grow your real estate business.
John Carney: Welcome to the Real Estate Locker Room Show. I’m your host, John Carney and we’ve got another great episode coming your way today. We are going to discuss, using your 401K or IRA Retirement Savings to invest in real estate, and potentially other assets. So, if you’re a real estate person, which I hope you are, and not so much of a stock market person, you are going to love this podcast. Our guest today is, Richard Desich. He is a real estate investor and Co-Founder of The Equity Trust Company. Mr. Desich helped form The Equity Trust Company, which allows Americans to self-direct their IRA and 401K Funds into main stream investments, such as real estate small business and start-ups. Equity Trust now provides custodial services to approximately 300,000 clients. And has $28 billion in retirement assets. Richard is a noted lecturer and trainer, and has traveled all across the U.S.A. educating Americans on the advantages of self-directed retirement plans which he is going to get into with us today. You may even come across Richard quoted in the popular publication such as – The “Wall Street Journal”, “Investor’s Business Daily”, and “Fortune Magazine.” Mr. Desich is a graduate of Culvert Military Academy, and the Ohio State University. He currently serves on the Board of the Girls and Boys Club, and Baldwin Wallace University. Welcome to “The Locker Room”. Richard, my friend, how are you doing today?
Richard Desich: I’m doing great John, thanks for having me.
John Carney: Cool, thanks for taking the time out to talk with me and share some insight with our audience. I like to kick things off here by warming up with a little bit of a stretching exercise. It’s just one question to get the conversation going. We are going to be exploring the intersection of sports and real estate and talking about the similarities. So, who is your favorite athlete of all time?
Richard Desich: Well, I think that kind of changes over the year, but as of right now, I’d have to go with LeBron James, and it’s a hometown answer because I am just a hometown guy. There are just so many great components of his story and arcs of coming back home and winning a championship—being down 3-1 and being the first team to ever do that and comeback in the NBA Finals. That’s so compelling. So, right now it’s LeBron James.
John Carney: Perfect. I’m just going to add that if you’re looking for athlete quotes. “Nothing is given, everything is earned.” Something along those lines, which is an absolutely fantastic quote by LeBron James. So, let’s get into it. Rich, tell me why real estate and how did you get started in real estate and let us know a little bit about how that rolled into Equity Trust Company.
Richard Desich: Absolutely. You know, everything for me revolves around my family and in particular my dad. You know my family came to the country and I am very proud because my family are steel workers. They came into the Cleveland area first. The only thing outside of the Cleveland area, West of Cleveland, about 30-40 miles, is Steeltown. So, he came in and grew-up in that area. He came from a humble background and wanted to make a better life for himself. After being in the service and graduating from college (he was the first in the family to do that) he got into investments, finance and wanted to diversify portfolios for folks who he was helping as a financial planner. Real estate was a real class that he just knew and he understood that it was one of the greatest wealth creators in the country. So, he learned his journey through apartment complexes and some of the family homes and went on to some commercial properties. He had that breath of experience and all the challenges for each one of those classes of real estate. He learned from that. My dad is an entrepreneur. He was always willing to try and not afraid to fail and learned from his mistakes. So, I had known real estate for my entire life, and that’s kind of how everything that I look through right now is through the lens of what I learned from my dad. And then I’ve had some great mentors along the way, folks I’ve learned even more from. So it’s all starts with him and my family.
John Carney: Perfect. So, when you were growing-up what sports did you play? Were you involved in team sports and did you see any carry-over from the sports you played growing-up into your professional life, specifically, real estate?
Richard Desich: Yes, I think it did. John your book has a great title, it’s a real team effort. I think that idea does carry over from sports and athletics into any type of investment. If you are an entrepreneur, you need to have a team. I mean you can be a leader, just like LeBron on the Cavs. He is a leader on the team. But, you know, you don’t win a championship just by yourself. It’s in some ways, sort of cliché, it really is the absolute truth. So, when you are looking at small business or real estate. Which is what real estate is if you are starting out. And you do it, as a form of small business. And as you grow, you have to have a good team around you. I think that’s part of the number one correlation between your sports and the business world.
John Carney: Yes, I agree. So now, I want to learn a little bit more to share with our audience. It’s a little more about your business. Let’s say that I have a hundred grand in my retirement fund. Now’s a good time to be talking about this. We’ve got an election year, right. The market’s up and down. You know, chaos in other parts of the world. Brexit, all these things are happening. So, you know I’m not a stock market guy. I’m a real estate person, but I have an IRA. I’ve worked for public companies in the past and I still have a small amount sitting in a 401K plan. It shouldn’t be there. It should probably be with Equity Trust. Tell me how you walk clients through the type of service that you can provide for them, especially if you’re a busy professional who understands real estate but doesn’t really have all the time at the moment to really get into it. What kind of services do you provide for these folks?
Richard Desich: Absolutely. So, you know, naturally our company Equity Trust actually started out as an accident. It was really based around real estate. You know my father put together commercial real estate investment deals and he wanted to let his clients diversify outside of the stock market. Just to the kind of point you were talking about, the markets being up and down and kind of being out of their control. You know, something that couldn’t affect whether the markets were going up or down. He wanted to diversify a portion of their portfolio and he had his clients invest a portion of their IRA fund into an investment with Drug Mart. He got a license for that, just for his clients and they had a great investment. They made 10% of their money for 20 some plus years and then they ended up selling it and they carried the profit of a sale into another great property, so they won. What happened from that deal was that someone had heard about it and said, “can my clients do that?” So, it’s almost by accident the company began. And so, to a person who has $100,000.00, for example. Those who know, or understands or think that real things is a good active class to be in, that’s who we deal with, a good portion of our clients are real life, real estate investors. They may look down the street, or see a market they think is good for an investment. If they like it, they can drive by a good portion of their investments and become involved directly. Depending on their comfort level of what they are looking for. But, they can see their retirement portfolio as they drive by and they are not looking at something and going up and down. So, the mechanics of it is someone has a $100,000 and says, I can go buy a piece of property here for $50,000.00 and they transfer their account to us. And what we do is the paperwork and the reporting and all of the compliance items, all the registration things you need to do to keep that account with a tax advantage in it. So, that’s what we do as a custodian. We facilitate transactions every day. I’m really proud of what we do. Over the last 9 months our company, our clients, through our company, placed a billion dollars in capital, into the economy here, and into investments, and a lot of real estate. A good portion of that is real estate. Which improves community. So, that’s kind of it in a nutshell as to what we do as an organization.
John Carney: Let me ask you a few more questions that just drill into that a little bit. For instance, single family homes—okay we buy one of those. I’ve got a little bit of money left over. I like office buildings for some reason. I work in an office building. But, the average person on the street just can’t go out and purchase an office building, right? So, if that’s my burning desire, do you help people put funds together to invest in apartments, or office buildings? I’m just using that as an example. Is that a service that’s available? Or by self-directed does that mean you are 100% in charge of sourcing and securing your own deals?
Richard Desich: Yes. The self-directed component means that we are a passive custodian. The folks that come to us have a deal in mind and are working with someone or come to us with putting theirs into syndication. You know, they can buy into a limited partnership or tenants in common, a portion of. There’s a portion of commercial building I want to buy 10% of it. You know, 5 or 6 of their friends come together. Or their person who’s syndicating an investment can buy a portion of that too. Or they can do the single-family homes, they can do raw land, apartments, duplexes, mobile homes. It really is the whole range of the real estate market. That’s what we do. It depends on the person coming in and what the flavors are that they want to do.
John Carney: I think that’s pretty-clear. Let’s talk a little bit about what you’re working on that’s real estate related? One of your first projects in real estate was building a commercial center, is that correct?
Richard Desich: Yes. I worked and helped manage that early on in my career. In a commercial center and then single-family homes. Now we have our building here which is a large project. In the real estate world our headquarters is here in Westlake, Ohio. I’ve just been surrounded by good people and I can attribute to what Buffett says, “The more you learn the more you earn.” I always liked that quote. So, in addition to real estate reading, and listening to podcasts, I have been going to real estate investing seminars, since I was 10, 11, 12 years old. And have just been around real estate investors. So, I was always learning. I don’t think I know, I know what I don’t know. Just with anything, just constantly being around really sharp people who have different ways of accomplishing their goals and being successful. I’m as far as real estate, always, always learning.
John Carney: That is fantastic advice. And you know, maybe that’s something that comes with a little bit of age, and the aging process. I mean, I sometimes wish I could turn the clock back. Some of the first real estate deals I did when I thought I knew more than I actually knew. There are plenty of lessons that I learned the hard way. But you know, checking your ego at the door as you get into real estate and listening to what those who have been playing the game for a while have to say is definitely good advice. In surrounding yourself with people who have the experience. Is that sort of where you’re going?
Richard Desich: Absolutely. I love Charlie Munger. I read a lot of his stuff and Warren Buffett of course. You know, what Warren Buffet said, “Learning from mistakes is probably one of the greatest lessons in life. But you don’t have to learn from your mistakes. You know, it’s much better to learn from someone else.” I think that’s such a powerful way to look at things. Anything you are trying to do in life. So many very successful people who know the pitfalls. The things you look back to and say, oh wow, I wish I had gone 10, 15, years ago I had done that. Those are great questions to ask mentors that you can seek out. Say, “Hey, where do you wish you could have done things differently?” And that’s what will get you such a wealth of information and help you out. Like you said, checking your ego at the door and understanding operating considerably, a sense of humility. I think that’s really key to being successful.
John Carney: Yes, the Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger relationship, I’ve read a little bit about that. I read Warren’s rather large lengthy books, and I think I wrote an article about him a few years ago. I was talking about exercising your investor muscle—one of the lessons I learned from Warren Buffett. He went out and actively pursued Charlie Munger, right? You might know this story a little bit better than me. So, jump in and correct me if I’m wrong, but, when he was young, he wanted to have a mentor?
Richard Desich : Yes, go ahead.
John Carney: When he graduated and decided, this is what I want to do, I want to trade shares and be a stock market person. He just determined he was going to go and work for the guy who was doing it the best. And didn’t get the job right away. He moved from Nebraska to New York. And then he had to kind of keep beating on the door to get in. And then he was kind of given all the not so glamorous work, right? But I mean, that’s how he started. And if you don’t want to read an 800-page book, there’s the lesson in finding a mentor.
Richard Desich: Finding mentors is so important. I was actually, Benjamin Graham in New York. And, but that’s absolutely right. He read the book and it was great, because Graham wrote two kind of seminal books on investing and he learned from going through “The Crash.” You know, “The Depression.” So, he took those lessons and Warren Buffett and a value investor. Hey, you know what? I want to learn from that. So, you can, I always like to try to find the more successful person that you. In whatever field you’re trying to get into. And look at real estate, there’s plenty of amazing real estate investors out there. But always look at ideas, and saying, “How can I spend a little bit of my time every day. Charlie Munger says, “I want to go to bed a little bit smarter each day.” And this idea of constantly learning proving yourself. I always think, you know, when I talk to the kids. I work The Boys & Girls Club, I talk to them. I say, the greatest investment you can make is $7.99 in a book. Then you can interact with some like Warren Buffet, or Charlie Munger, you can learn from them. Or Sam Walton, these are on Amazon. These are all amazing people, just take lessons from them. And for a very small cost, you can. You can learn from reading a book, or listening to a Podcast, or seeking out a mentor too. You can, the books allow you to access people like that. See what you normally have access to. But, people in your community, who have done real things, those lessons. I would think, you would want to, or are you where you want to be? Reaching out to them. So many people do like to give back. I think just having mentors is a really powerful thing.
John Carney: Right. And so, when, you know, I have, when I went and reached out for help. I never asked someone, “Hey, will you be my mentor?” But when I was living in Australia, on a real estate development I had to ask somebody for help. I was because I wanted to get financing. I needed someone who could guarantee finance. I didn’t have any assets at the time in Australia. And you know, when I later asked him, hey, why did you help me out? He said, “Oh, you know, because you were already proven to be motivated. And I’m just paying it forward, this is how I got my start.” I find that a lot with people who are playing at the elite level of real estate. You know, that they have been in this game for their entire life and are more than happy to sit down and share their knowledge with young people. Would you say that’s accurate?
Richard Desich: Absolutely, just by asking, just by picking up the phone, and asking. I think that’s a huge thing. But also you have to be respectful. I think a universal law, and you want to give before you receive, and so. You know, to the extent that you can try to provide value to that person. And maybe, it’s not, you’re going to tell them things about real estate that they might not know? But, maybe there’s something else you bring to the table. Maybe you know about marketing, and you could help them out that way. Always be looking to give. That’s another kind of universal success trait. Is just give and not necessarily give till you get something back. It’s just the way the universe works. It’s the more you put out, it does come back. So, I think that’s a you know, a combination of mentorship. But also trying to be respectful amongst where they’re at. And in their career, and if you can help them out. Or start off a relationship by a connection. Or however you can provide value to that person. I think that’s important too.
John Carney: Yes, that is great advice, you know, givers gain and I suppose we’re talking about there’s going to be listeners to this show who were, who are doing it, doing their due diligence that want to get into the real estate game, you know. Meet people, who hopefully want to have a chat with them and with a trust company about putting their 401K Retirement Savings into tangible assets that they can drive by. But, they don’t know how to get started? So, a lot of getting started is taking the right action. What advice do you have based on all of your experience? And especially, working with hundreds of thousands of investors in real estate. You know, what is your number one tip that you can give to someone who is just starting out?
Richard Desich: Well, that’s a great question? I feel blessed because I’ve been around so many amazing, creative, real estate investors my entire life. And they really run the gambit from every type of thing you can think of, from commercial, to mobile homes, to single family homes, to developers. I think the kind of commonality is, it’s two things. One, is to learn as much as you can. And that kind of comes back to what Warren Buffett says, “The more you learn, the more you earn.” Get as much information as you can: Podcasts, books, mentors, learn. The on the other side of the coin is? You know, take in all that education and knowledge. But, if you don’t put it into action, then it’s just a thought in your head. So, you have to execute on a plan. But if you have a good balance between those two then that’s where you get success. If you get all the knowledge and learn, make mistakes, and stand on the shoulders of people who have come before you, but also, be able to say, I’m ready to go, and pull up your sleeves and do the work and execute. So, I think those are two key points there.
John Carney: I agree. You see, I think we already talked about that, we’re going to cover that. I mean, again, back to the guy, back to the kids that are out there that want to become professional athletes. Or the young adults that want to take it to the next level. It’s sort of the same thing isn’t it? I mean, you’ve got to decide that you’re dedicated to this activity and then surround yourself with the people that can teach you the skills to get started the right way.
Richard Desich: Excellent. I love the title of your book, “Real Estate is a Team Sport” it really is. It is, you do need to have a team of, a great team around you. It’s very rare for something to be built that’s really great right now, really great that it was just one person. It’s almost impossible. You have to realize you job. You have to be able to fill-in the blanks with all of these great organizations. People will have to test the business and other endeavors. You have to have a great team on it. So, putting that team together and building, and then being able to execute on a plan that’s truly what it’s all about. So, it’s your knowledge and work too. Everything comes back to what LeBron said. He has a post and videos about what he does, as far as his work ethic. And he’s saying, here I am 5:00 a.m. I’m in the gym. Even though he’s the biggest star in the world, he’s out there working. If you Google, you can find him. His work out, just like an hour and a half, doing it every day. And so, there’s part of it. You know, to be successful, you have to roll-up your sleeves. And do the repetition. And do what is necessary, to win, and to succeed. You have to put the work in. And you have to enjoy it, too. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you enjoy the process, and you enjoy the people around you that you are surrounding yourself with. Then, there’s that quote that says, “That if you love what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life.” And I think really what people can aspire to be that. If they are going to really inspire to that, then they’re going to be really, really, successful.
John Carney: Yes, that’s fantastic advice, thanks for that. Richard, are you ready for it? For “The 2 Minute Drill?”
Richard Desich: I am, absolutely.
John Carney: Alright, perfect. Just so you know, perfectly goes a little bit longer than 2 minutes. But, here we go. What sport do you love playing as a kid? And what lessons did you learn?
Richard Desich: I always liked soccer. I played soccer. And it’s something about the sport; it seems certain components of it. You put the training in, the commitment. And then, you go out and you win as a team, and you lose as a team. So, I always liked team sports, all of them.
John Carney: Cool. What do you participate in today? What activities, or sports do you still compete in, as an adult.
Richard Desich: Actually, you know, I got into running. Which I love. I’ve done The Cleveland Marathon. And I think that’s also a good, great aspirational goal. I never ran growing-up. I would encourage folks to, I never thought about, one of the great life goals. I ran a marathon before that, just to kind of do it. And I really got into running. I think it’s a great discipline, and it allows you time to think as well. When you’re putting in those miles, train up for, not necessarily for a marathon, half-marathon, or 10K, 5K, or whatever it is. I think running is just a great, you can do it anywhere. And do so much while doing it. So, I love running a race, I’m a big runner.
John Carney: What’s your favorite sports or business book. You’re a big reader, so we’ll let you pull out one from each category, sports and business.
Richard Desich: There’s a book about Woody Hayes, two fold, a real famous coach at Ohio State University. And you know, Woody was, he was a guy who had challenges. He wasn’t always the best temperament sometimes. But, he had a great commencement speech. Where he talked about how he might not be the smartest guy in the entire world, but no one could out work him. And he’d just worked, and it was a great work ethic. I always loved that quote, I loved that speech. And being an Ohio State guy. One of the things about Woody Hayes. Just growing-up I was just a big fan. So, such a good sports book right now.
John Carney: Cool. And then you have a business book to read?
Richard Desich: Yes.
John Carney: If everybody listening has to go out and buy one business book to put on their shelf so when they bump into you, you guys can discuss it—what is that?
Richard Desich: You know what? And this I’d tell you to do. I showed this to my nephew to keep in mind. So, my Amazon account, my Kindle Amazon app. And showed him, literally, me buying books. I’m reading all the time, and buying a couple of books a day sometimes. And I’m always learning and reading. For business, that would be a habit, read, always read. A book that I am reading right now. my favorite business book is always changing, because I’m always reading so much. But, there’s a great one coming back to, “Warren Buffett.” It’s called, “A Few Lessons For Investors and Managers.” That’s a great book that can kind of teach you some general lessons that can apply to anything that you’re doing. As far as there is directly upon real estate. Although, it’s not tactical in real estate. I think they’re good core principals. So, anything that you can read, that would be a great book. I’d say, “Made in America” which is the book I’m reading by Sam Walton, is one of my favorites. Same Walton on his deathbed wrote that book. And there’s just amazing references that you can pull out of there, great stories. I also love Jeff Bezos book on Amazon. And it talks about, it’s called, I’m drawing a blank on it? I’ll get it to you for the show notes. But, there’s a great book that Jeff Bezos was the author of. It’s one of my top 3 right now.
John Carney: Alright, tell us about one come from behind victory you’ve had, in either business, or hopefully real estate? Where, you know, had a deal and everything was going right. Then a big ole’ obstacle appeared in your way. Then you got side tracked. How did you get back on track, get that victory. Anything pop into your head?
Richard Desich: Yes, absolutely. Our corporate headquarters here in Westlake. John you have to come out here. You know, this is a massive project. It took several years. And was kind of my night-night job. And there’s so many moving parts. You know what it really taught me and I took this from the marathon training is that you have to understand, that certain things are their processes. You have to take your time. You’re going to have set-backs and I think if you are going to understand that there are always going to be set-backs. It’s not really a matter of if there will be, it’s how you react to them, the set-backs. So, I think if you understand patience and you get creative and you innovate, out of almost any challenge, you really have to keep things in perspective. But, yeah, it taught me so much. I learned so much from that transaction.
John Carney: Cool, let me ask you this? How do you get into your flow state, or “The Zone?” Is there a practice or a ritual habit that you have that allows you to get that laser like focus on it, on a task?
Richard Desich: I suggest to you and everyone out there to read on productivity as much as they can. I’ve read so many of them, learned so much. So, what I do is I chunk my day out. So, I have you know, certain parts of my day are for strategic planning. Certain parts are meetings. Certain parts are for phone calls. And so, I don’t get distracted, and I, everyone has, depending on their own psychology, and who they are 3-4 hours a day where I call them, “Magic Time.” If you can focus in on and find your magic and for me my magic time is from [10:00] to [12:00], that’s, where you allow, a lot of great thinking. And so, I schedule my day around those 2-3 hours, and focus on strategy. Then in the afternoons, I do phone calls, eating, but it’s set up that way for me to be successful. And I plan my morning, you know, I have a ritual, you know, as a wake-up. I drink down 24 ounces of water with sour vinegar, lemons, a squeeze of lemon. And that’s a ritual every morning. Then I feel hydrated, I have a clear mind, and I exercise most days. And then I get in my morning by doing certain things prior to even starting work. So, I think having a morning ritual and having what works for you. Maybe you’re a night owl and “The Magic Hours” are you know, later at night, that’s okay too. Just figure out, what your rhythms are? And work to those rhythms and work to your strength too.
John Carney: Alright, one last question? What is your number one tip for winning more in the real estate game.
Richard Desich: I think it comes back to that quote, “The more you learn, the more you earn.” So, the number one tip for winning more is? Just always have a sense of humility, understand that there are people who know way more than you, no matter how good you are. You can always learn something from someone. You can always give back and help them out too, if that’s from a mentorship perspective. But, always try every day, try like Charlie Munger says, “Go to bed a little bit smarter, a little bit wiser.” How ever you do that, A Podcast, a book, a mentor, helping someone else out. And you’re learning from helping them out. Anyone of those things. “Go to bed a little bit smarter, a little bit wiser.” That’s the winning tip.
John Carney: That is a great tip. Go to bed, a little bit better than when you woke-up in the morning, I like it. Well, Rich, thank you for joining me today in the Locker Room. I definitely, learned a lot from this conversation, some books I’ve written down here in my notes, to jump on Amazon – www.amazon.com, and put in my “Shopping Cart” Hey, where can members of our audience who might want to contact you be able to find you online? Do you have social media accounts? Or an email address you want to share? How do people get in touch with you?
Richard Desich: The best way to get in touch with me is through our company website. Which is – www.trustetc.com, and the company is – Equity Trust. And so – www.trustetc.com, it has all the information there and lots of great content—free content. Kind of our core value of our company provide lots of education and help you become successful.
John Carney: So, is there a specific place on your website, if people just visit your website? We’ll have that up on the show notes, and the extras both on ITunes and the website. Is that a lot of free information to get people, you know, to have a better understanding of the opportunities, and self directed IRA.
Richard Desich: Absolutely, our goal is to write tons of information so that people can become better educated on the opportunities. Then they can make a decision that’s good for them. And what we want to do is have a long term relationship with all our clients and have them do well and everyone wins.
John Carney: Everyone’s happy, happy clients, we love them. Alright, there ya have it, folks. I truly hope you picked up some actionable advice from Mr. Desich today relating to a number of things. We talked about investing your retirement savings into real estate. You can drive by and have a look at. We talked about great books that everyone should be reading. And you know, the power of learning to earn more. So, make sure you check-out “The Post-Game Report.” on iTunes and while you’re there please subscribe to the Real Estate Locker Room Show to ensure that you never miss out on the pro tips that our guests have shared with audience. The mission here is to help you elevate your real estate game. Now, if you like what this show is all about. I’d be grateful if you would leave a nice 5-star review in iTunes so that other like-minded people in the real estate world can find us easily when they’re looking for free content to listen to when they are training for their next marathon. Please visit – www.johncarnionline.com, because there will be links, and additional content associated with today’s show posted there. And while you’re on the website feel free to drop your Email in the newsletter sign up form to receive more real estate investing insight, tips, tricks, hacks, and other great insight, great stuff, all related to plan the real estate game. Remember to stay focused, work on your goals, have fun, stay in the game. I’m your host – John Carney, and until next week. Work hard, play hard, and profit hard.