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  • Writer's pictureKerwin Donis

7 Things Every Real Estate Investor Can Learn From Blackstone’s Co-Founder, Stephen A. Schwarzman

Stephen A. Schwarzman co-founded Blackstone in 1985, and today, it’s managing over $600 billion in assets.

Regardless of your opinion on Blackstone, it’s no question that the organization Scwarzman helped to build is a dominant force in the real estate industry.

My brothers and I recently read his book, What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence, and thought we’d share our Top 7 Quotes and Takeaways.

1 . “It’s as easy to do something big as it is to do something small, so reach for a fantasy worthy of your pursuit, with rewards commensurate to your effort.”

When we first started in real estate, we were wholesaling and flipping houses. We thought that we couldn’t get into multifamily real estate because of multiple limiting beliefs. But we realized that doing larger deals would take the same amount of time that smaller deals would. Once we realized this, we decided to start our transition into the multifamily space.

2. Write or call the people you admire, and ask for advice or a meeting. You never know who will be willing to meet with you. You may end up learning something important or form a connection you can leverage for the rest of your life. Meeting people early in life creates an unusual bond.

Starting out, as we made our way into the multifamily space, we began reaching out to anyone we knew with experience investing in apartments. This led us down a rabbit hole, and eventually, we tapped into a larger network of apartment investors who were focusing on 100+ unit deals. This allowed us to get into the right rooms and rub shoulders with investors who were thinking BIGGER than us. These people would become our partners - and friends- in the industry.

3. There is nothing more interesting to people than their own problems. Think about what others are dealing with, and try to come up with ideas to help them. Almost anyone, however senior or important, is receptive to good ideas provided you are thoughtful.

When we were first partnering on larger projects, we didn’t start out by taking down 100+ unit properties on our own. Instead, we helped other operators on their deals. By raising capital, helping out with marketing, doing due diligence on properties, and involvement on asset management calls and investor relations, we brought our partners value. This opened doors for us that otherwise would not have been available.

4. When you’re young, only take a job that provides you with a steep learning curve and strong training. First jobs are foundational. Don’t take a job just because it seems prestigious.

Throughout our real estate journey, we’ve prioritized learning opportunities over opportunities to make a ton of money. We realized that our biggest asset was us, and by investing in our network and education through hands-on experience, we’d be compounding our efforts that would pay off down the road.

5. When presenting yourself, remember that impressions matter. The whole picture has to be right. Others will be watching for all sorts of clues and cues that tell who you are. Be on time. Be authentic. Be prepared.

When we first started attending networking events in the multifamily space, we had some imposter syndrome. We felt out of place, since we were often the youngest in the room, and had no experience doing multifamily deals. But overtime, we built confidence and realized that most attendees were eager to help younger investors get involved. We asked questions from a place of genuine curiosity, and found that one of the best ways to learn is to ask people actually doing deals.

6. No one person, however smart, can solve every problem. But an army of smart people talking openly with one another will.

On our own multifamily projects, our team members have specialized knowledge and experience in different aspects of the business. We have team members who focus on asset management, capital raising, acquisitions, marketing, and construction. This allows us to leverage other people’s strengths, and ensure that we’re doing right by our investors.

7. Be bold. Successful entrepreneurs, managers, and individuals have the confidence and courage to act when the moment seems right. They accept risk when others are cautious and take action when everyone else is frozen, but they do so smartly. This trait is the mark of a leader.

Some of the most seasoned investors we’ve been able to speak with say that real investors do not sit on the sidelines, waiting for the market to adjust. They are always looking for opportunities. For example, many investors remained frozen in uncertainty during the COVID pandemic in 2020. We know many investors who bought the best deals of their careers during this time period.

Even if we’re not buying deals, we’re always keeping an eye out for opportunities that fit our criteria.

These were a few of the many “aha moments” we had as we read and discussed this book by one of the most notable investors today.

Let us know down below which one of these is your favorite, or if you have your own personal takeaway from reading this book.

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