The real estate industry can be sometimes fickle. Making that first deal can be a very daunting task that one needs to overcome to get their drive on. Today, Merrill Chandler interviews real estate investors Jen Conkey and Stacy Conkey about their diverse real estate experiences and strategies to identify deals and make offers. With over a decade-long experience, what’s not to learn? Tune in on this latest episode to find out more!
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Why Failure is the Greatest Feedback With Jen Conkey and Stacy Conkey
I am here at FICO World 2022. I am here with my partner, Jessica Tabora, who is as fierce as they come. She’s our Chief Operations Officer. She is literally here helping me to nail down all of the borrower behaviors, all the things we need to do, build the software they’re doing, take care of our clients, make sure that we’re giving them the very best and finest when it comes to fundability. In this episode, I’m going to introduce you to Jen and Stacy Conkey. They are the Warriors of Wealth. No joke, in this interview, you’re going to see it’s a straight wow. I can’t wait to share them with you and you with them. I’ll see you.
It is my distinct pleasure and I’m so proud to have Jen and Stacy Conkey joining us here. How are you? You are like superheroes. I keep watching you grow. We’ve known each other over a year now. In that year, your trajectory has been like straight through the roof. I want my tribe to come to know who you are as women, as entrepreneurs, but also the whole point of this is what is that internal experience?
My questions are going to be based on that internal experience of, “What the hell are we doing? This is crazy talk but it keeps working.” That’s where we want to go. Tell us a little bit about you guys and how you met, how you decided to do business together, real estate investing. What was it that attracted you to the entrepreneurial experience?
I don’t know how far you want me to go back.
In the days of yore.
We met years ago. Independently, we were both real estate investors and didn’t know each other but we both started in 2003 on similar paths yet Stacy’s was a little bit different than mine. We both started off investing. When we were dating, I realized that she knew more about doing things remotely than I did.
I had been bumping my head against the wall trying to invest in California with very minimal profits. Once we started dating, I started asking some questions and realized, “I’ve got this set of skills where I know how to manage a business remotely, and you’ve got a set of skills that you know how to invest remotely. Imagine what would happen if we dated more?” That’s how it started.
I have never heard a lead into a relationship as good as that. You were like, “If we kept dating, maybe we could be even more profitable.”
As we kept dating and having conversations, we realized there were many similarities in our journey because I started off doing it yourself, double DIY in investing, and literally swinging the hammer with my brother and my dad, and wanted to go after it. It was not scalable and profitable. It kept me awake at night. She had this whole model on remote investing and learned different things, but what we both had in common was we went to get educated on this stuff and it was chaos.
When it came to implement, it was more chaos, more mistakes, more cost, more money and literally, we decided when we got together, we could disrupt the entire real estate industry by teaching people and making sense of that chaos. We found a mutual passion, then our brains started happening. Before you know it, I would ask questions, then she would have answers, then here we are.
That’s phenomenal. “We just happen to be dating on the side because it still works out nicely because we’re brilliant business partners.” Stacy, from your perspective, you’re coming at this same experience. Your expertise was investing remotely. She was managing. What was it that you saw?
It’s funny because when we got together, we just started investing together. It was a matter of when we started doing that and as we were doing it, Jen was learning the remote investing side of it. I was learning more about like how to look at things at even a higher-level strategy. Jen thinks at a very high level, and she looks at strategy in a way that I never knew how to. As we were investing together, we started like coming up with a system and a process to make sure that like every t got crossed and every i got dotted, and not just the detail side of it but then from a high-level strategic area too. Every purchase we made had a purpose to it. It wasn’t like previously, I would randomly buy whatever I could.
Pick another property. Throw a dart.
At that point, we were further along than dating. This has been over many years but as we did that, we started refining our business. That became our business. That became a lot better because of our very complementary skillsets. I’ve always been one to train and teach everything that I do. I always want to train or teach somebody how to do it.
Share the love.
We refined those processes and got them very solid. That’s when we started being like, “Maybe we can make this not so difficult for everyone else.”
We’ve done all the heavy lifting. I get to drop the bomb. Their organization is called WOW, Warriors of Wealth. I call them Amazonian Warriors because these two are amazing. You guys have shared with our stuff with many of your clients and they’ve become our clients. They speak so highly of this exact step-by-step organizational process. They swear by you and so, of course, I want to get them funded so they can do more with you. I’ve been in business and relationship. What were some of the landmines that you A) Stepped on and B) Were able to avoid? I want to know the nitty-gritty of the ones you didn’t miss.
I’m going to take a stab at this because when we first got together, I had been in Corporate America for many years doing investing on the side. Stacy had been an entrepreneur for the entire time. I literally was still in Corporate America doing real estate on the side. I had a team in Corporate America. If the toner and the printer needed to be changed, there was someone for that. If there was a jam in the copy machine, there was someone for that.
I was so used to having a huge team that I could delegate to and go fast. Now, when we got together and we started investing together, her whole role in the business was acquisitions, analyzing the deals and mine was, “Let’s check out with contractors,” scope of work, implementation, like getting it done. We divide and conquer in a very cool way. One way that was disastrous for us in the beginning was I didn’t have the doer mentality. I had the, “That needs to be done. How do you think we’re going to get that done?” She was like, “You’re going to go do it.” “No, I’m having a team for that, right?” That was trouble in the beginning. It was me trying to become a doer versus the up here strategist that delegates people.
The copier suffered if it blew up over and over again because no one was there to change the toner. I’m laughing while you’re telling that story. There’s a massive difference between strategy and tactical implementation. When there are only two of us, then, all of a sudden, somebody has got to pull the actual trigger, not just aim the rifle. Stacy, from you, what’s a landmine that blew your crap up?One of the biggest things we should teach students is that they've got to ask questions. Click To Tweet
I know you want the nitty-gritty, so I’m trying to come up with it. We work well together, so we don’t have a lot of those. I think one of the things that has been comical, if not maddening for both of us, is we have very different communication styles. We will be like, “Blah, blah, blah. I know. Blah, blah, blah.” We will realize after saying multiple things that we’re literally saying the exact same thing in two different ways. The way our brains work, we don’t realize that we’re literally right here. It’s entertaining later.
After the fact.
One thing that has changed over time is now we figured that out much sooner. Jen will be like, “Is this one of those times where I’m literally saying the exact same thing that you’re saying but neither of us realize it?” I was like, “I don’t know. Are you saying this?” She’s like, “No, I’m saying this,” but it’s still the same thing. Our brains work so differently when it comes to how we process information and how we communicate. I need context for freaking everything. She’s like, “Can you give me the bullet points?” I’m like, “I need to give you all the context.” When she’ll say something very brief and I’m like, “I need more information please.” She’s like, “Why?”
“I gave you all three bullets.”
“I gave you five bullets. What more do you want?”
In my business, I talk about lender love languages. You’ve got to speak the lender’s love language. In a pie chart. It sounds like you guys cover all the pieces of the pie. Strawberries on one side and blueberries on the other, but the whole pie is being taken care of, right?
Yes. That’s a very good way to describe it.
What are some of the landmines that you were able to avoid? You’re like, “Landmine alert. We saw that thing coming.” Part B, I want to know how you’re translating that into teaching and training your students, your tribe, to stay out of the whole landmine field.
I think probably the biggest thing that we discovered very early on that helped us avoid landmines is that I’m a shark.
Drop my young and keep swimming.
Fire, ready, aim. That’s always been me. It’s taken me about two decades in Corporate America to learn to step back, “Let’s go slow. Let’s plan this out,” then go quick and execute. Stacy’s great skill but can also be a detriment is that she analyzes the crap out of everything. I’m like, “Come on.”
Pull the trigger.
It helped us with the fact that I will go and she will analyze. There are times where I want to analyze and she wants to go. We literally will ebb and flow through that, but what helps us with the biggest landmine is I will get myself in the situations where I want to take action. There have been a couple of times where I have taken action, and Stacy will come in and ask some questions. One of the biggest things that we always teach our students is that you’ve got to ask questions, analyze and make calculated risks.
For us, I wouldn’t calculate at first. I would just decide, and she’s coming from behind with the armchair quarterback and be like, “What about this, this and that?” “I don’t know. I didn’t ask that question.” She will be like, “Don’t we need to know this and this?” “I don’t know if we need to know that. Do we need to know that?” “We need to know that.” It happens very quickly because of this system we have in place to communicate. Knowing that we have a communication gap and that sometimes we misfire, we make sure that we huddle up and we talk about crap before we make major decisions. Did we know that in the first year? No.
It took us the first year to figure that out. Now, it’s like, “We need to have a meeting at this time of the day, this time of the week, this is how we plan it,” then we can make better data-driven decisions. Whereas before, when you’re an entrepreneur, and most of us that are entrepreneurs are very highly aggressive and want results, we tend to act quickly.
Sometimes that hurts you when you don’t step back and think it. What we have developed over the years is something that I learned from Genghis Khan. I know it’s random.
I love historical figures teaching business truth.
Genghis Khan has a slow, slow, quick, quick strategy that he would go about when he was battle planning. We call it our battle planning, and we think about stuff now all the way through in terms of what is the year going to look like, then “What’s your role? What’s my role?” We talk about it but when we’re getting into a situation and we’re analyzing things, that’s not my strength. I’ll be like, “You’re on it, right? You got this? You analyze it,” then we come together and we make decisions.
Before that, if you want to make a decision and go, there are going to be some consequences if you didn’t think it through. We’d like to go slow, slow, quick, quick, and think about what are the ramifications? How is that going to move this? How is that going to affect this KPI? What’s that going to look like in six months? Most of the time we’re always asking ourselves, “What’s that going to do for our fundability now?”
“We have one more bullet. Where’s our fundability going to be affected?” That’s a real thing. I’m here at FICO World. I’m sitting here listening to a FICO personnel teach lenders. They’re teaching lenders. What if you had like a customer-centric experience? Instead of looking at products, what if you were to look at the whole borrower as a whole? Whether or not they have a house with you, whether or not they have an auto loan with you? What if they had a car? I’m like, “You mean relationship building?”
Jessica and I are looking at each other going, “We’ve got to get our software as fast as possible to these lenders,” because it’s a holistic approach, and that’s what you guys are telling me that you’re using both of your skillsets to deliver this holistic approach. Give me an example of a house or an example where you came in and you went slow, slow, quick, quick, or one of the models that you’re teaching your tribe?
I think the most recent example would be the motel that we closed on in January 2022. It would probably be the best example. It’s because it’s outside of our normal business model. We don’t typically invest in motels. We buy apartments or duplexes, triplexes. Quads had been historically what we have been into. Going in and doing apartment investing is a lot different than doing motel investing. Guess who didn’t analyze that deal?
“It’s outside of Zion’s. Let’s get it.”
In that particular acquisition, we looked at, “Who’s good at what?” Our chief operations officer happens to come from a hospitality background, so we took a holistic approach of, “We’re going to ask her questions and leverage her experience. We know we have boots on the ground with our business partner that’s there.” I know that Stacy can analyze anything to death and demonstrate whether it’s solid or if it’s not.
I also know that if I was going to be in a leadership position at the motel, I could come in and assess what does that leadership team look like? What’s the staff look like? What changes do we need to make? We very quickly analyze, “Here’s where you can play the role. Here’s where I’ll play the role, and here’s where the business partner that’s boots on the ground plays the role. Let’s come up with our plan.”
Our business partner went through with all acquisitions, figured out all funding. Stacy had analyzed it to death. We’ll keep it that, thank God. When it comes to the implementation with the team, I stepped in. I’m working with our business partner in terms of what does the staff look like there? What’s the general manager like? How are they performing? We’re learning a new business model. When you’re learning a new business model while implementing, you’ve got to have checks and balances and systems in place. Everybody’s got to have a defined role. That’s where we took our time and strategized who was going to do what. Once it came time and we closed and we started implementing, we already knew what we were going to do. That’s a perfect example of it.
On the teaching side of it, where that goes into that world is like, for us, the motel was something new. We teach our students but for them, even a duplex is new or a ten-unit apartment building that’s value-add and has issues is new. Where that connects to that world is we’ve been doing this a long time. There have been times where we’ve gone too fast and made mistakes. Why we know as much as we know is from all the things we did over time that didn’t work out right. Those are how you learn the best lessons, then over time, we refine.
When we’re working with our new investors or other new apartment investing, we’re basically walking them through the same thing. You’ve got to look at all of these different things, “Take your time. Do not rush the due diligence,” because you rushing through and not getting an inspection on 2 of the 10 units, you’re thinking, “I’ve got 80% covered. I’m good.” What you don’t know is there could be a $30,000 to $40,000 problem in the two units that you didn’t inspect or you didn’t inspect the basement. Jen and I have learned those lessons over the years. Also assessing the team. I am not a personnel person. Jen has got like talents for days, years, eons.
What we try to do is we try to not only in our own investing to take that slow, slow, quick, quick approach. We try to teach up with our students as well because what we don’t want them doing is going so fast. We try to encourage them to do one deal at a time because there’s so much that you learn with every single transaction. If you’re rushing through to check the boxes, you don’t even know what you learned. Sometimes until you’re on deal three or four. I’m like, “Do one so that you get all of the learnings out of that experience.”
Not only are you making money through the real estate investment, but now your knowledge level is here, where maybe it would’ve been here if you rushed through. Now, you’re going into your next deal. You know what to say, how to say it, you know what can go wrong, you know how to communicate everything to your realtor, broker, lender, to the title company, in a way that shows them you know what you’re doing. Whereas when you’re rushing through and trying to go as fast as possible, you don’t know what you’re doing, which you can make mistakes, and you don’t sound like you know what you’re doing.
I’m having this visual of like, “Here’s a minefield. What I’m going to do is I’m going to race through it and see if I can avoid the mines,” but no. You’re going to fall on more ultimately. That’s brilliant. What would be the top three wins in your professional life, and top three wins as a partnership and team personally in your lives going through this process? You can do this together.
For me, one of the biggest wins that I’ve had is I have a tendency to be a perfectionist, even though I fire, ready, aim, I would be very upset with myself because I would fire then ready and aim and say, “Crap.” Yet I’m a perfectionist, so it doesn’t make sense. I would literally get to the point where I’m like, “I don’t want to take any action until I can start thinking about it,” because it was a trauma response because I would do and then go, “Ugh.” I started then not doing it, then it was inhibiting me from getting any results, so I froze. Especially leaving Corporate America and coming in full-time to investing.
When you’re in Corporate America and you’re doing this side hustle, if you will, you’re going through the motion because you still have your 9:00 to 5:00 income coming in, and it feels more secure. I made the decision in leap years ago and it’s like, “This is it. I can’t mess this up. I can’t do this fire then figure it out later stuff or can I?” Stacy taught me, “You can. I’ve been doing it for many years. This is all I can do.” I personally learned to let go of what I defined as failure and redefined it as it’s feedback on how I can improve. That was my top personal win.
It’s information. You’re failing forward because you learned the lesson. Stacy?
Because we’re talking about our investing, the other side of probably what’s been more challenging to me has been what we’ve engaged in the last couple of years has been on launching worries. I’ve been doing investing for many years, so it’s not super challenging anymore. Every deal has something new that throws in but on the Warriors of Wealth side, one of the things from a personal standpoint that we had to get comfortable with is being comfortable being uncomfortable.
Every single thing we did was something we had never done before. We didn’t know how to do Zoom. We didn’t know how to have all these different software that we were going to need. We had to do video and we didn’t understand like, “How does this sound connected to this?” We still deal with technology challenges. One of the things I’m most proud of for both of us is our willingness to do the scary thing.Learn to let go of what you define as a failure, and redefine it as feedback on how you can improve. Click To Tweet
We launched it when COVID was starting. It could have been scary and we embraced it. We were like, “We have a purpose.” I feel very strongly that part of my whole purpose of being on the Earth, other than to love my wife to death, is to help to make a difference in people’s lives through inspiration and education. The area I’ve been gifted with is how to teach real estate investing. That’s the area that I feel so strongly. Jen’s ability to look at strategy, not just in real estate but in all business, and to run and grow our team.
The reason we’ve had explosive growth is because we’ve invested every penny of profit from that back into building a team. Now, we have this incredible team, which is why you’ve seen us grow so quickly. I am particularly proud of us doing the thing that we did not know how to do. We know real estate but it’s different to go from knowing how to do it and doing it to having an online learning platform that reaches people all over the entire United States. Even some people in Israel are in our program, and knowing how to put all that together and keep our sanity. It was very difficult at times, and we did it. I’m so proud of us.
I think for the third biggest thing that I’m most proud of us for is the community that we created in all seriousness. It was back before COVID when we first started. Stacy had been training people for a very long time, more than a decade. At that point in time, I could tell she was very passionate about getting them results and helping them get in the end zone because we independently took different training courses and got different results. It all depends on how you implement and how you’re coached through that.
I realized she’s impacting one life after another while we’re also still investing, but she gets this cool high off of them getting results. What if we could go from a one-to-one to a one-to-many? I had this vision of community of people that we’re basically teaching our system to. I thought, “That would be awesome. We’re creating our own little army.” Eventually, we have this army of GPs that we could raise money and we could blow the roof off. She was like, “We’ll impact all of their lives.” I was like, “That too.”
You’re like, “Hold it. We’re going to take over real estate investing in America and people will feel good about themselves and be like, ‘Yes.’”
That’s what I meant to say.
I love you two so much.
She’s the one who wants to uplift the world and I’m like, “We can change the world through the people you’re uplifting though.” One step higher. Now, knowing that’s the vision, we go in and we start doing it. Now we’ve got over 150 students that we love and adore, and can’t wait to do crap with them quarterly. We’re having so much fun and it was like, “We could have continued our course of investing and living our dream and having fun and doing this one-on-one thing, but this is so much better.” It’s so much better.
You folks are the yeast in the bread. There’s so much more loaf when you guys get in there. What are you up to now in your tribe? Your Facebook keeps blowing up. When I looked at your numbers, I’m like, “Hold it. It was like 8,000 the last time I checked.” Where are you folks now?
Ladies, this is crazy talk. You folks are so influential.
It feels good. What we’re doing, what we’re most proud of now is in 2022, we’re doing these quarterly intensives with our students because one thing that we realized very early on is that we’re alone. When you’re a real estate investor, you’re alone and everybody around you is like, “You’re crazy. What do you mean you don’t go to your properties? Don’t you want to secure a 9:00 to 5:00?”
There’s not a lot of community for anybody that’s doing real estate investing to talk to, to confide in, or let’s say a contractor won’t reach back out to you or something’s going wrong. You don’t have anyone to lean on. That’s why we created the community. Now when we do these intensives, every three months, we’re doing a quarterly intensive and we’re bringing the students in. We’re teaching them but they’re also meeting each other in person, which is huge considering COVID had us all isolated. They’re doing deals together. They’re becoming family and becoming friends, and we get to witness it. We’re addicted to when’s the next intensive?
Ramping up and preparing. You guys are no joke. I talk to many of your crew, your tribe, your family, your clients because my experience is the same. We’re sitting here, we’re all fanboying, fangirling over you guys while we’re in a fundability session going, “I know right? Jen and Stacy, Stacy and Jen, they’re like mavens.” I love that I get to share that experience from knowing you guys and watching the influence you have over our mutual clients, and me being able to however I can get some more cash in their pockets to do more deals that you guys are training them how to do.
It’s a beautiful relationship.
Thank you so much for joining me. This was supposed to be in March when we had Women’s Month, and now we’re going to have an entire month for you guys. We’re going to spotlight you on our show because I’m so excited to have been able to spend this time with you. Final words. For my audience, men, women and everybody in between, what would you say is your number one recommendation? The number one key to the kingdom?
I’m sure we might have varying answers but I’m going to give mine because it would be weird if I didn’t. I feel like there are a lot of things going on out in the world now with the economy and fear tactics and the media pressing all of these things about inflation, and be careful with discretionary spending, all of those things. I would say the one thing that I would love to see most Americans do, if you can, is figure out how to get your money into a hard asset, and the best asset is real estate.
Don’t watch the news and freak out and panic. Instead, burn those calories researching, “Where can I put my money?” The government has been printing money since 2008. They’ve printed more money in the last few years than they did the previous decade. That tells me the value of the dollar is declining. You’ve got to get it into a hard asset that will pay you back. Instead of reading through and trying to educate yourself, there’s got to come a point where there’s action, which is probably what Stacy is going to talk about.
That’s what I was going to say. I don’t believe in going into something where you can get hurt and be like, “I’m going to go for it.” Get educated but then you literally learn. There’s no amount of teaching that we can ever give anyone where you’ll know it until you take that knowledge and you start taking steps and doing it because it’s in the doing that you start making the connections. It’s like someone who goes through medical school. They don’t walk into surgery and know how to operate. You still have to go to medical school.
That’s why you’re an intern, which is what you guys offer to somebody who’s considering real estate investing. Thank you for that. Do it but do it in the guidance of somebody who’s a pro. You’re interning before you, to use your metaphor, scalpel yourself. How can people get a hold of you? Most of my tribe are real estate investors. How do they find out more about you two and Warriors of Wealth?
The best thing to do is come see us at one of our weekly trainings. The website for that is WOWAUA.com to register, and you could come to one of our trainings. AUA stands for Ask Us Anything.
I love it. Every one of my boot camps, I always have this little thought in my head because I’ve got dozens of people. I’m training them on fundability and that they have power in their financial lives. Whenever one of my slides says, “The wow of your life lies beyond your why.” I always talk about Z. You guys have heard me talk about the A to Z of your life.
Every time I say that sentence, I always think of you two. I’m like, “The wow of your life is on the other side of why.” I’m like, “This paid commercial is brought to you by Warriors of Wealth.” Anyway, I adore you too. You’re a light in my life. Thank you for joining me on my show. I know this is going to be a huge benefit to my tribe. Thank you so much. We’ll get you all the details so that you guys can share it. We’ll share it and we’ll spread the love.
Good to see you, Merrill.
Thank you so much, Merrill.
From FICO world, this is Merrill Chandler signing off. Thank you, Stacy and Jen. It’s always a pleasure.
- Warriors of Wealth
- Jen Conkey – LinkedIn
- Stacy Conkey – LinkedIn
About Jen & Stacy Conkey
Jen and Stacy have 20+ years as entrepreneurs and real estate investors. Through their diverse real estate experiences, Jen and Stacy Conkey know what it takes to identify deals and make offers on properties that will build a long lasting wealth portfolio. With over a decade of experience sharing knowledge with other investors, Jen & Stacy have taught thousands of people across the globe on what it takes to succeed in real estate investing, with actionable strategies that make cashflow real estate fun and easy.