Welcome to week 15, where we have Ken Truong on the Crushing it in Real Estate Podcast! Ken is a well known figure in the San Francisco Bay Area who specializes in fix/flip projects and co-living rentals. He’s also the Mr. Mom of the Stronger Moms property along with his partner Tom Tran. Join us this week as we learn from Ken about his stories in real estate and his creative ways to have fun investing! Enjoy!
[0:02] Intro: Hey everyone, and welcome to another episode of Crushing Real Estate with Bryan Pham, where we interview real estate professionals around the industry. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and leave a very positive review. We release an episode every single Sunday so stay tuned. Enjoy.
[0:21] Bryan: Hello guys, welcome to another episode of Crushing Real Estate. Today we have Mr. Ken Truong.
[0:28] Ken: Hello Bryan.
[0:30] Bryan: Ken and I have worked together numerous projects, on the Stronger Mom’s team
[0:33] Ken: Yes, we have, it’s been quite a little journey.
[0:37] Bryan: Ken’s a known flipper here in the Bay Area. He’s also known as Mr. Mom on the Stronger Mom’s team. Ken, welcome to the show, bro.
[0:48[ Ken: I’m glad to be here, thank you for inviting me, Bryan.
[0:50] Bryan: No problem, I’m excited to have you. Hey, walk us through your real estate journey, how did you get started?
[0:56] Ken: How did I get started? How did I get started? Okay. How’d I get started? So, I had a business before, I was doing insurance for 13 years, that’s my background. I won’t go too much into that but how I got into real estate was actually through my friend who actually introduced us together, right? My friend called me one day, it was one night, and he calls me, hey Ken, have I got the deal for you. Hey, I just got $25,000 on a real estate class. I like okay, good for you. He’s like, I get to bring a friend. Oh my, God, okay. So, I’m that special friend? Hell yeah. You know, free. Free is my favorite number. So, I go to this seminar, three days, three-day class. I remember it like it was just yesterday, it was a fat guy teaching and a skinny guy teaching. Anyways, it was three days and after that, we learned about wholesaling thing and that very informative, when I went home, you could have just, went on Yahoo and found all that stuff. Anyways–.
[2:12] Bryan: Where was this three-day training at?
[2:15] Ken: I don’t even know, at some hotel, little conference room, I don’t know. So, one day they call me, one week later they called Bruce and I and they’re like, hey, you guys are the best students in the class. We would like to invite you guys to join the inner circle and be 02:32 [inaudible]. I’m like, how flattering. So, the membership will be 100k for the two of you. I’m like, okay.
[2:41] Bryan: 100k for two of you guys?
[2:44] Ken: So, anyways, so we didn’t do it. My buddy and I said, okay, we’re going to take on this venture now, we’re going to go off and be wholesalers. Our parents were not proud, we were putting together envelopes, like folding up and mailing them out. When we finally did get a call, we didn’t know what to do with it, anyways one thing led to another, one thing I didn’t actually really learn from the class though was how to create a cash buyers list, that’s one thing I learned, I actually practice after the class and that was to a post on Craigslist ad in the comment section, post an ad saying that you have a 03:29 [inaudible] for sale. I posted my own house–
[3:33] Bryan: Did you post a fake address or did post your real house?
[3:36] Ken: I posted the real house, my house without an address, you know they call and inquire, the awkward phone conversation, now I’m lying. I’m professionally lying through my teeth, something I’m not very good at. You know, I talked with a lot of random people, they all knew I was lying. There’s one guy, he invited me out, he’s like, yeah, let’s meet up. So, I met up with this dude on Craigslist, it was fine, it was great. We’ve been together ever since; you know his name is Tom.
[4:07] Bryan: Mr. Tom Strand, so that’s the story behind Ken and Tom’s 04:12 [inaudible]
[4:13] Ken: That’s my partner in real estate. So, been a very, more than a partner, he’s actually been the mentor, the burgeoning actually went as far, right Bryan?
[4:24] Bryan: Yeah, definitely, that’s pretty funny though how you went to the seminar where they almost try to get you to pay 100,000 for you and your friend Bruce and instead of doing that, what you got from it was that, you decided to post a fake address on Craigslist to kind of get the bars list going and practice talking to potential buyers and then that somehow we you met your future partner Tom from it. So, I would say, your first encounter real estate sounds kind of funny but it’s also kind of successful in a way, you know, because you got your feet wet into the industry. That’s awesome, man. So, take us back to when you first began your real estate career, how did your parents take that transition? Because I understand that, you know, you have a family owned business for insurance, and you seem to be the person taking care of the business and now you completely made a 180 change to real estate. How was that transition over from insurance to real estate and how has that experience helped you out?
[5:25] Ken: Wow, that’s actually a very good question. You actually understand the, you know, my past and that’s actually a very pivotal moment in life, as you can imagine. I was doing insurance from 18 years old until 31 or 30, whatever, 13 years ago. It’s all I knew man. I love insurance, I’m very passionate about insurance. I hate selling insurance. But now that I’m no longer selling it, it’s a lot easier for me to sell it. But the thing was, I got into insurance because I wanted to make my mom and dad happy, spent all my life trying to make them happy, they were never ever happy. You know actually I got depression through you know, just the business, that business was draining the life out of me. Anyways, I was ready for something else and push came to shove, my dad and I had a disagreement in management, right? Working with your dad is not easy, you know? What happens is whatever you make him mad about, your boss goes home tells your mom, your mom sent you out.
[6:38] Bryan: Like a very Asian discipline style.
[6:41] Ken: So, we finally got to a boiling point where my dad and I were going to essentially have to kill each other. I was like, okay, so then that’s it. I said, okay, if you want to run it this way, I’m going to walk away and I walked away and you know, watch the thing go. Ever since then I dive right into real estate. I was already working with Tom part time at the time but basically one year after working with Tom, that’s when I got lots of changes. So, anyways, during my walking away from what made me what held me back it made me really sad, you know, my hands-on walking away from that has actually changed my life and maybe very happy. I grew up doing my own cause my own dreams living on my own terms. Not trying to please anyone anymore. I can actually just focus on the real estate and fortunately, time cannot had been better because after a year of working with Tom, we actually started the pickup, getting a lot of traction, it is kind of just worked out great. Everything’s just meant to be.
[7:47] Bryan: Sounds great. And for you guys who don’t know, our listeners don’t know, so Ken actually started his own Meetup group in the Bay Area down in the South Bay Area. Which has I, think, I believe, like almost 1400 numbers in their Meetup group? So, we kind of want to dive into Ken’s strategy on finding deals and creating these networking events for us all meet and make deals happen. Hey, Ken, let’s take us back from the very beginning, from the time, from me, you, Ken and our buddy Sean. We met, we start doing our little masterminds together, can you walk us through that moment over there? How for me, a mastermind has helped us all in our real estate career?
[8:31] Ken: That was fun. So, you know, we were always at the office every night and beginning, from like 7 o’clock to 11 o’clock, 12 o’clock at night. The whole first year and then with time and Tom’s all since we’re here and we’re constantly talking about real estate, we might as well just have a meetup here. How’s that work? And I like, what does that consists of? And he’s like, we just invite people to show up and 08:58 [inaudible]. I’m like, okay, let’s do it. 09:09 [inaudible]. And I’m completely new to real estate. I’m just like, dang, yeah, let’s talk real estate I might hear. It’s funny. But, it really, that’s what we all met, right? We all started with like a table by five people, in a table and then it grew on to 30, then the whole room is still then it was very casual. Because we were just casual networking. That’s what a point of view of actually meeting up or trying to sell anything or, or having funky presentation, which is trying to learn bounce ideas.
[9:35] Bryan: And I think that’s a really good key point to bring. I think having a mastermind where there is no pitch and there’s no selling, only with the good intention to help others. I feel like from that one, you can build a strong community of people that actually, that you want to work with, you build that trust. And to give our listeners a little bit more background, we used to meet after work, as Ken said before, 7 to 11pm and just talk about ideas all the time, just the four of us. And then as it grown, a conference room that grown from 5 people to 10 people, to 15 people. And then if you guys been to Ken’s meetup recently, or over the past year, you guys have seen that, there’s like 70, 80, 100 people, like come out to the meetup, you know? And to me, that’s was a say about Ken’s personality. Like it’s, he’s very consistent. And also feel really strongly that consistency is a key to success, you know?
[10:33] Ken: I think we come for the wine.
[10:36] Bryan: Maybe, maybe so. On top of that, Ken also is very keen on giving back as much value to the people that attend the meetup, in terms of setting up presentations from featured speakers who are very experienced in the area. And Ken is also very keen on passing on knowledge to whoever comes out to the meetup. And the thing with Ken is that he actually has like wholesale scripts where you can read off the script as you’re talking to people that have property or people that we want to sell property to. And I think repetition, like he’s been able to help a lot of people. So, Ken, can you walk us through how you know what the idea of how you wanted to give back so much, with your education?
[11:23] Ken: Oh, wow. I’m glad you are aware of that saying, you know, and do you like it? Okay, Bryan definitely doesn’t need that, so I’m surprised that, you know, he sat through that boring presentation, like a homework assignment.
[11:37] Bryan: I do that for you Ken.
[11:40] Ken: Oh, yes. So, we believe in the abundance mindset, look at all the properties around us, so many deals, right? And there’s so many ways to structure deals. So, it’s all about being creative, and we need more minds and more resources to put these deals together. And the reality is, that we’ve actually been able to just make a lot of friends and that has actually been the most valuable part of this journey so far. Except for friends, it wouldn’t have been enjoyable, it would have just been work. The friends that we’ve made, it feels like more like hanging out. With that mindset, we, encourage others to find deals, the way to get into real estate is to just find the deal. That’s the easiest way to get into it. Once you find the deal. You can find the right person to help you with it. financing the deal or managing the fixing yet, all right. With that mindset, we believe that we can share that knowledge with other people. It allows everyone to grow together, can find them all of a sudden, multi millions at the end of their lives?
[12:54] Bryan: Definitely, and Ken’s right, like having the abundance mindset, knowing that, you know, money will come and go, that we’ll make our fair share and not being selfish about it and giving back has much value as it can. I think it goes a long way, not just in real estate but anything you do in life, you know. I think not having the scarcity mindset, like put you in more of abundance mindset, which means that you’re more open to help others. And if you guys know Ken and Tom, they are by far the most generous people in the Bay Area, like these guys will literally buy you dinner. Doesn’t matter how much dinner is, like they’ll buy you dinner.
[13:34] Ken: We were just trying to buy the drinks.
[13:38] Bryan: And that’s just their philosophy, you know, like and then the fact that they make it work, like they keep finding deals every single month and purchasing something every single month and making that money back and tripling, quadrupling their ROI, you know, dinner is not cheap guys, like it’s pretty expensive, the things he treat us to.
[13:56] Ken: You know, we use those Burger King coupons.
[14:00] Bryan: Oh, it’s anything but Burger King. Oh yeah, these guys are super generous like, they’ll take anyone out, take anyone under their wing. They’ll make sure like, they create a sense of family, you know, sense of community that brings us all together and they’re right, Ken’s right. It is more fun to working with people that you can trust and working with people that you can have fun with and drink with. Because real estate in the big picture, it’s not that fun, it’s really, really stressful. A lot of things go wrong, like you know, almost 99% of things go wrong, including buying wrong. So, like, Ken said, it’s fun and then we’re in it for the long haul, you know? Because when you look at it, it’s like what’s three bad years out of 40? We’ve been investing for that long so we take the blows and like we’ll have fun with what our friends and family and try get further and further in real estate. So, obviously, like, we’re going to have key metrics where we invest under criteria. So, we never want to be in a position where we go broke, you know, and we always try to seek out six figures per deal as a minimum profit, you know, and you know, it may sound crazy right now but it isn’t, you know a six figure is pretty normal in the Bay Area, especially when you you have accountability partners and fun people that you work with and keep you accountable. Like yeah, those goals are very attainable in my opinion. So awesome. So, Ken, so can you explain to us what kind of deals have you and Mr. Tom been working on the last couple years?
[15:39] Ken: Man, we’ve worked on a lot of different deals. First, you know, we thought we’d just buy a house, fix a sofa, but it gets pretty detailed. So, right, we’ve done projects where we’ve got a converted, a whole entire sub for, you know, like a first level of San Francisco into a living area. That was a pretty big project, we’ve done wholesales. We didn’t really expect to do so. But sometimes, it’s just right to wholesale a deal. We’ve done hotels, we’ve even done entitlements.
[16:13] Bryan: Can you explain to our listeners, what’s hoteling?
[16:15] Ken: Hoteling is when you actually just buy a house, close on it, then you put right back on the market with little or no work. I think that’s the definition of it, that’s what we did.
[16:28] Bryan: It pretty accurate, I mean, hoteling is when you close the property, you clean it all you do nothing, nothing to repair it and sell again for a quick profit. In a way it’s like a variation of wholesaling.
[16:41] Ken: So, we’ve done all sorts of deals. The thing that’s interesting is the deals that we say if you get a typical fix and flip deal, it’s one that you just pick off the MLS that we’ve been doing the unique ones that were usually brought to us by someone in our network, one of our friends Bill would say, Hey, I have this very unique situation. And I think you can help me with it, I usually requires a little more hand on with what the seller or additional people are kind of kind of stuff, like things that are more unique, basically. And those wouldn’t have been possible unless we had our friends.
[17:22] Bryan: So, your friends, basically created by the meetup group, and the mastermind group. So what is this all tell us tell us that you had to take massive action to get where you want, you know, being a part of is visible visualizing where you want to be in next couple years and half of is executing. And that’s exactly what Mr. Ken here Did you know, that’s to me, it’s his prison law by his character. He’s very consistent when he wants. Like when you try to talk to Ken about anything, it’s always real estate related or he’s always at the job site where he is very dedicated to what he does so props to can That being said, Ken, how do you keep yourself motivated from day to day? Because I know you work seven days a week, bro.
[18:06] Ken: I was motivated, motivated. That’s a good question. Let’s see. I don’t really like try to stay motivated. Because that sounds a lot of energy. Like just what I do is I just keep trying to improve every single day improve a little, a little bit a little bit just like that. Just keep improving my what his motivation was to get to just keep moving forward man. What I really, I’m working toward, I can tell you what I’m walking quickly towards is actually trying to reach financial freedom, right? It’s really not that far away. And once I’m actually there, then I can actually focus on a real passion, right.
[18:53] Bryan: So, what is your true passion Mr. Ken?
[18:56] Ken: My true passion, I would like to do something along the lines of a wildlife and environmental conservation.
[19:07] Bryan: I like that a lot. And you’re using real estate as a leverage to get to your goals, which is pretty amazing. So, props there, you know, I feel like most people see real estate as the end game. I don’t think that’s the right perspective to have. And what real estate is, ultimately is a tool to free up your time. You know, it’s freeing, freeing it for time for working for the dollar, feigning your time to do whatever, pursuit that you find passionate about. And that’s a big key factor that real estate can offer. You know, it’s not it’s not exactly the end game. We want to be super wealthy, or we want to be super rich. I know. Like we want to be able to pursue our goals and passion separately without having financial burden. Yeah, I like that a lot. So, Mr. Ken, let’s take a little deep dive into the scripts that you offer to talk to wholesalers. So, let’s do some role playing right now. Let’s pretend you have a house to sell me, like how would you market it to me or vice versa?
[20:07] Ken: Okay, we were trying everything see what worked what didn’t work and we heard of all we got cut that curse that for letters and stuff anyways. So with that I know you all just give up this created the scourge that has to be a way to still talk to these agents on the phone without them saying screw you investors you low balling cheap, doesn’t that. So, we didn’t do anything especially unique. It’s just that Tom and I we’ve developed this script that was based a lot on some NLP methods that we learned.
[20:56] Bryan: And what exactly are NLP methods?
[20:58] Ken: So, NLP is this, a thing called neuro linguistic programming, I probably not the best person to explain exactly what it is. But ultimately, it’s a way of changing the mindset of the environment around you like other people, right? You try to be positive and just change their frame. So that we utilize those techniques in our Tosca to ease the agents, okay, into a conversation. And for the most part, though, compared to them, and now, back then we would get about said like 33% of the agent calls back saying they’re not really that interested in talking to us. Right now. I would say pilot 95% of the agents are very open to talking. And now we are simply just networking with the agents using these very simple script. Nothing what’s a simple script like can give a simple go like this. Hello, did I get you at a good time? will say Yes, you are. Yes, yes, I don’t feel good about it. And then I said, I’m looking to buy a house keep it vague, right? And then they’ll say great, I can help you. I don’t use it. I’m looking to buy a house. Can you help me? Look say yes, I can help you buy a house. Yes. Just given like not depending on where the conversation goes, we can either go into the criteria the house but normally we want to use that opportunity to build rapport. So, you don’t just go when you call an agent ask them to sell your house or help you buy a house. Okay, here’s one here and one over there on shelf. So just build rapport, just say hey, you know, I’m looking to buy a house. He told me about yourself, I’ll tell you about myself. We learned about each other but mostly the conversation is going to be focused on agents because you know, you do a lot of interviews of people so you understand people like top so all we get the callers to do is they call the agent top bonus points you get the agent to brag. You can get them to educate you. So, pick their brain make them feel smart. All the agents are going to hear this right now, you don’t feel smart. I mean I asked him questions like how do you feel about the market? Are you doing investments yourself? Pick their brain. Which area do you recommend? Just pick their brain, let them talk, once they feel good, they like you man.
[23:30] Bryan: Yeah, so Ken’s right you know, besides the point that real estate agents going to hit us up to Ken’s right, like establishing their relationship, like actually makes a military actually want to work for you, you know? And when you read books like 48 Laws of Power like you understand that it’s all about having the other person talk and compliment them along the way. And this this this, this doesn’t just apply to real estate deals implies that anything you do you know, especially negotiations, or Kendra referring to is like You want to stop supporting, because you have to keep in mind that real estate flipping and investing in the very saturated industry and most people would actually lose a charm. They’ll just jump straight asking the questions like hey, I’m looking for a house under 1,000,003 three bedroom two bath and that the conversation just ends there whereas you try the second approach where you’re like oh, I What do you think the real estate market here or new investor yourself I want to time income when it comes time the real estate agent to remember with you want to call up because they have this off market deal like they’re more likely going to remember can buy based off this conversation, because he actually took the time to establish the rap support. And these minor details I can mention really intertwines with his methodology of how he improves every single day. This is one factor of it like improve your ability to connect with other people real estate agent wholesalers does it in a day like this all compound They’re all gathered together, and you’ll get your deal that you want. You know, because real estate is a huge relationship came, you know, you’re going to have to go out there and put yourself out there talk to a lot of people. You’re going to talk to people that want to talk to you and talk to people that don’t want to talk to you, and you will get cursed out in this industry. There’s no doubt about that. You someone’s going to feel smarter you someone’s going to hate you, someone’s going to curse you, but it’s okay. numbers game. You want to work with people that want to work with you. Because all it really takes is one good deal and you have the capital to have to do something else. Yeah, that’s all that I learned from Mr. Ken. So, props to Ken you know, thank you can appreciate that. Awesome. So, Ken, what is the biggest challenge you face in your real estate career so far?
[25:52] Ken: The biggest challenge so far in real estate, so the biggest challenge so finding a House is kind of hard to find deal funding, it can be kind of tricky. Buying a house is very easy. Making them profitable is making it is hard. So, basically, fixing it. So the fact that the last factor puzzle is managing your project, so getting the material and a contract is all scheduled at the right time, it all laid out, make sure they’re there, make sure that the money is on budget on time, right. That’s how you that’s what you projected to get them make sure that it reaches that production, that without having any real experience and real estate investments, you know, real estate itself construction, all that. That was the challenge so and so the point here is actually to overcome that you would want to partner with a mentor or another investor that can actually help you through the process that slipping or just things of this magnitude are tricky and a mistake will cost you a lot and I learned more from my mistakes and from reading learn from the mistakes of others I work with someone who’s experienced, you can learn and grow successful, much quicker without as much pain.
[27:25] Bryan: Yes, definitely, Ken’s right like if you guys lack the experience, like go out there and seek a mentor. You can also ask definitely reach out to one of us for mentorship us an ass local experts in your area like go out there and find the right mentors I want to work with you know, and bring value to your value not it’s not always the money your value can be your time you know your value in bringing the deal like you can you can contribute a lot of different ways. Alright, cool. Hey, Ken, as we are approaching the end of the show, I’ll ask you two final questions, what would you have done differently in starting your real estate career all over again?
[28:07] Ken: If I could have done my real estate career all over again, I would have just gone out of I just skipped college and went straight into getting a license in real estate or general contractor.
[28:17] Bryan: Wow, that’s really bold.
[28:20] Ken: Looking back the people who are most successful but in my network are people who either most of them they just got a license in something they got a license and insurance and real estate taxes let’s go on general contracting right. Those are the guys that actually made the guys who got degrees not so much.
[28:45] Bryan: Ken’s very anti college by the way. Ken, final question, what’s your favorite book?
[28:54] Ken: My favorite book, I do have a favorite book is not really real estate related however it will change your life. So, my favorite book is a book that, written by Corey Wayne called How to be a 3% man. Wow let’s look at that he’s a real estate investor how to make 3% per year. I’m just kidding. The book is actually about how to be its kind of like a help self-help book self-improvement but geared towards the written by man or men, but I believe that it applies to women as well. How to deal with your personal relationships and your personal confidence. It goes a lot hand in hand right your confidence and your relationship in life insecurities that are like go with it. After reading this book a number of times, actually come to understand that on need to seek the approval of others. I don’t need to be pleasing anybody, don’t need to you be confident, stay focused on your path in life and you’ll be very successful in business and in your dating life. A lot of people they spend too much energy on the dating life and actually consumed them It really hurts their path to success I guess, fix yourself before you fix the house, yeah?
[30:25] Bryan: Yeah, I chose the same philosophy, help yourself before you help other people. You know, because when you help yourself, you can definitely help a lot more people, in that regard. So, Ken, how can we find out more about you? How can our listeners reach you?
[30:40] Ken: You can follow me through Instagram, its k3n.800bykwik. That’s the person easiest, you can email me at team or ken at strongermoms.com.
[30:59] Bryan: Alright awesome. Thank you for your time, Mr. Mom. I appreciate it. Thanks for being on the show man, I really enjoyed this.
[31:06] Ken: See you again Bryan.
[31:07] Bryan: All right.