Today’s guest is a serial entrepreneur and a podcaster himself. Steve Trang is the Founder of the Real Estate Disruptors movement. He started his podcast in 2018 to encourage and inspire real estate agents and wholesalers to double their incomes by adding a second leg to their business.
Steve also provides mentoring and coaching to help entrepreneurs support their family, lifestyle, and goals. His primary objective? Create 100 millionaires!
In this episode, you’ll be in for a treat! Steve not only shared the game-changing books and seminars he swears by, he also shared many powerful insights and wisdom that can dramatically change your life and business.
If you’d like to learn from one of the industry’s best, this is one episode you can’t miss!
Finding The Missing Piece To The Real Estate Success Puzzle With Steve Trang
You are about to have your mind blown because we have Steve Trang in the house. He is the Host and Creator of the Real Estate Disruptors podcast. It is a huge honor to be interviewing him since he is usually interviewing high-level investors on his show. We get to learn more about him. Steve, welcome to the show.
Thank you very much.
Steve, I was on your podcast in Phoenix and that was a great opportunity. I had a lot of fun. We figured out we had a lot of different things in common, way more than we thought. We were like, “Are we the same person? This is weird.” I know we look different but I feel the same.
We had a blast. It’s always a trip and an adventure. There are so many people out here that anytime you come out, it’s almost like a second home. I first met you when you were at Batch’s office to do Brent’s podcast and you were out for the TTP Christmas party. We go way back.
Tell me about yourself not just in the real estate world. Tell me about your family. Are you married? Do you have kids? Where are you from?
I’m married happily. It’s one of my things every morning when I’m looking at my affirmations and vision, a cherished wife is number one on my vision board. I have three awesome and also difficult kids. As far as where I came from, I came here as an immigrant at seven months old. I was born in a refugee camp in Italy. I came here with nothing. We were sponsored by some families. I grew up living in cheap apartments, a mobile home. The mobile home park I grew up in Tempe is across the street from where I got my last two Teslas. It’s interesting to experience.
I grew up as a good kid, good grades. Mom and dad always said, “Do well in school, get a good job,” and I did that. I went full ride at ASU, full ride to UC San Diego. I did the corporate thing and found out the corporate thing is not for me. I always did good work but working for somebody was not for me. That probably is true for a lot of people that are reading. Working hard for someone else to make a lot of money is not in it for me. I can’t do that. That’s what led me to get into real estate.
If it weren’t for a handful of books, I probably would still be an engineer. You don’t know what’s possible. Right now, you’ve got YouTube and a lot of people are learning from podcasts and so on, what’s available out there. If it weren’t for a handful of books, you got Kiyosaki, T. Harv Eker, Napoleon Hill, these books that are out there, I might still be an engineer because you can see what’s out there, what’s available. I didn’t have a bad life. When I quit my job, I was making $85,000 a year plus benefits. Health was good. Health insurance was good. They would give you stocks. I was making, after everything, $100,000 a year when I quit. It was a good life but I also knew that wasn’t the life for me.
Tell me what got you into real estate investing.
Work harder for yourself.
After reading Rich Dad Poor Dad, I realized that there are ways to get out of the rat race. I still have three best friends and we formed an LLC together to buy rental properties. Thank God we got our loans denied because this is back in 2006, 2007. Otherwise, we’d have more foreclosures than the ones we already have.
While doing that, I met a broker who positioned himself as an investment broker. He talked a big game and I said, “It seems like you’re doing well and you make good money. What do you do?” He’s like, “I make six figures and all I do is talk to people.” Sound familiar? He’s like, “You talk to people all day and you make a lot of money.” I was like, “I can do that.” At that point, I got my real estate license in two and a half weeks. I immediately submitted my two weeks’ notice and went full-time into real estate, which in hindsight was a terrible idea because the market took a massive dump at that point but I only know one way which is to go all in.
I always say, “I only have one speed, full speed. That’s it.”
It’s go big or go home.
What year was this?
This was 2007.
Crappy year to get into real estate.
What was cool was at that time, I was still working hard. I worked way harder for myself because when I was doing well at Intel, I was working 25 hours a week. I wasn’t working hard at all. What was cool was talking to some people, they’re like, “If you can express this work ethic in these crappy times, you’re going to crush it when things turn around.” I had a couple of people say, “I can’t wait to see who you become when the market turns around.” I was like, “That’s a huge compliment because I’m a nobody.” People saw some things in me that I didn’t see myself yet.
From the struggle, you started in residential sales. What got you into being an investor?
I did the realtor thing and it was cool and all. Not the most exciting thing. Turns out it’s a job. Around 2011, 2012, I got into coaching. I struggled along the way and then I got into my first coaching program because I knew something had to change. I got into coaching and it transformed me from being a realtor to a business owner that happens to be in real estate. That was the thing that clicked in my brain.
After that, I’m always trying to find more leads. There was a guy that had a program, House Buyer Network, which was pay-per-click leads for sellers. I tried to sign up for that but it was the exclusive per market so I couldn’t get in. I’m not the one that takes no for an answer. I said, “If I can’t buy it from you then I’ll make it myself,” so I did. I started doing my own pay-per-click marketing. At that time, the biggest competitor was Sean Terry.
For a couple of years, it was me and Sean Terry. What did I do? I copied his websites. As I made my own websites, I copied his. There’s a tool, I don’t know if it’s still around, called KeywordSpy. Using KeywordSpy, you can find what other people are bidding on. You can find the keywords they’re using and their ad copy. What did I do? I copied his ad copy and I copied his keywords. I did this and this got me a lot of listings.
The problem was I was still thinking like a realtor instead of thinking like a wholesaler. I would go to these appointments and I’d say, “You don’t want to go with an investor. If we list your house, you’ll get more money.” I got plenty of listings that way but I did get a lot of people that also said, “No, I want cash.” How did they find me? Buy my house, sell my house fast.
When I would go in there, the first couple of houses I bought was like, “We could list it for $100,000. In 30 days, you’ll get $91,000 after all closing costs.” They said, “We want a cash offer on this.” I said, “Cash offer is going to be a lot less than that.” They said, “No, we want a cash offer.” I said, “The most I can offer for this is $80,000.” She’s like, “Done.” I said, “I don’t think you heard me. If we list it for $100,000, you’ll get $91,000.” She’s like, “No, I’ll take the $80,000.” “Are you sure?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “Okay.”
I bought her house. On the way home, I called my wife, I said, “We just bought a house.” She’s like, “What do you mean we just bought a house?” I was like, “They wanted cash so I made a cash offer.” She said, “How are we going to buy it?” I was like, “I don’t know. We’ll figure it out.” I hung up and called my dad, “Dad, do you have $80,000?” He’s like, “Yes, I have $80,000.” I said, “Great. We’re buying a house.”
The first couple of times that happened, we bought them and we’d wholetail them. We were wholetailing before we knew what wholetailing was. Eventually, we ran out of money and once we ran out of money then I was, “I learned about this and/or assignee thing. Let’s look into this some more.” Jamil called me as a Zillow lead. Jamil is a Zillow lead. That’s how we connected. I was a Zillow premier agent and Jamil was a Zillow lead. He called me and he bought one of the properties that I bought as a wholetail. I had it listed at $110,000 and he was like, “I’ll buy it.” I said, “You should know this doesn’t have an AC in it.” He said, “Don’t worry about it.”
He double closed on it and I saw that he sold it for $123,000. I had a hard time selling for $110,000 in the MLS and he sold it as wholesale for $123,000. I said, “There’s clearly something I’m missing.” I took him out to lunch. We went to Clever Koi. I still remember. I grilled him. I’m like, “Teach me more about this world.” It’s not like I wasn’t familiar with the wholesale world. I knew about it but it’s one thing to know about it and it’s another one to have Jamil teach it to you. I learned from Jamil and we started doing more deals. At that time, I was happy to make $3,000, which is atrocious. I did a couple with Jamil where I was making $10,000 on an assignment. After that, I was like, “It looks like this wholesale thing is legit.” That started in 2012, 2013.
When you were starting all this and you started wholetailing and wholesaling, if you can remember, put yourself back there at that time when you didn’t have a ton of money behind you and you didn’t have a lot of experience. What was your biggest fear?
One of the hardest things is how to figure out how to motivate people.
My biggest fear was getting found out, getting caught, people finding out that I’m not legit. That was my biggest fear because I was doing deals. This is just as bad in the wholesale world. There are people that are doing deals but are not profitable. That was me. I was doing deals. The year before I got into coaching, my best year was 53 total transactions a year. After coaching, I was consistently doing 100 transactions a year as a realtor.
What happens is if you’re making that much money, it’s usually due to marketing. Yes, you can make a lot of money. Your revenue can be high and lucrative but no one looks at the expenses. I was making a few hundred thousand a year. I was taking home $115,000, $120,000. For working 60 hours a week, that’s awful. My biggest fear was being exposed. They’re going to find out I’m not as good as I look out there, as people think because you get the accolades. You get the awards for being a top producer and this and that.
A lot of people chase, I call it vanity. Nowadays, it’s followers. You want to get as many followers as possible, you want to get this many likes and so on. I’m not saying don’t track it. Those are key metrics. Don’t make that your identity. What was happening was I had this identity where people were looking in or looking from the outside. It’s like, “This guy is successful. He does this many transactions and this and that.” In reality, the bank account did not reflect that success and that was my biggest fear before everything turned around.
The imposter syndrome.
It’s a real thing.
Once you are doing well, you still have it because you’re like, “What is so special about me?” You still have that memory of who you were years ago. I remember who I was. I haven’t forgotten where I came from.
I have friends that are super successful clearing $1 million a year and they’re terrified they’re going to get found out. I swear, it’s a conversation once a quarter, “What the hell are you talking about? You’re not going to get exposed because you’re the real deal.” They still carry that. Starting with nothing to getting to here is hard for your brain to comprehend. It’s like, “You actually are here.” It’s also healthy to have that because if you’re not, you might get comfortable and you’re definitely the best.
You talk a lot about personal development. That’s something we definitely bonded on in our session with personal development. What’s your favorite book? Let’s start with that.
I love The Road Less Stupid but I would go back to the classic, Think and Grow Rich, which by the way is an incredibly difficult book to get through. I didn’t know that. I had multiple people tell me that. What do they say is the number one key to success in that book? Persistence. I read that book when I first got into the business and then along the way, I’ve read over 100 books. I have a spreadsheet of all the books I’ve read that are worthy.
I went back and listened to Think and Grow Rich again and I was like, “If I had just listened to Think and Grow Rich ten times, I would have saved myself from having to read all these other books.” A lot of the principles that we’re learning that we think are great, these books that come on in the last several years are already covered and discussed in Think and Grow Rich. That’s still the number one book for me.
Maybe I need to hunker down and walk through this.
There’s an audible version of Think and Grow Rich that has Napoleon Hill’s speeches in there too. It’ll be a couple of chapters and then a speech that was recorded of Napoleon speaking. I enjoyed that one a lot.
Maybe I’ll go revisit it. I do love The Road Less Stupid. That is a good book.
That’s a book that anyone that has been in the business for a year needs to listen to because you’re going to realize all the stupid stuff he has taught.
In any business, not just real estate, it’s a book for entrepreneurs. It’s a great book. You’ve done lots of coaching programs, you’ve gone to some seminars but not so much real estate. You’ve done a lot of the personal development stuff. What are some of the favorite seminars you’ve been to?
The best bang for the buck now still is INSANE PRODUCTIVITY by Darren Hardy. It was $2,000 to go attend. It was more expensive to fly there and pay for the hotel than it was for the event. If you were to get it today, it’s a twelve-week module but we covered that whole thing in one day. What he talks about on those twelve modules was a one-day thing from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM.
It makes more sense to go and knock it out in a day versus twelve modules?
I love going to events because you’re 100% present. There’s a difference between watching it on video and being present because if you’re there, there are no distractions. Not only that, he’ll tell you from the stage, “Put your phone away, put it on silent, turn it off if you can.” If you’re watching a module, you’re still getting distracted. You’re going to have the got-a-minute questions. Those questions never go away. You’re going to have fires.
If you go to an event and you’re properly staffed, your staff will take care of stuff so that it doesn’t have to get to you. That’s the big thing about going to the event. I like that one. I enjoyed his High-Performance Forum. That was a two and half-day event. That was incredible. Strategic Coach has been monumental. One of the exercises they work on is to help deal with the imposter syndrome. That was a great coaching program. There are 4 1-day events sprinkled throughout the year. We started in May then it’d be three months and that was it, you pay for the year. That was cool too.
There’s a trend that you love Darren Hardy and so do I, as you know. My favorite book is The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. I’m a big Darren Hardy fan but I haven’t done any of the seminars so I want to maybe look into those.
There’s no hard ceiling on what you can achieve.
You have to go to those things in person. What’s interesting is he seems like a nice guy. He has got a smile on his DarrenDailys and whatever. He’s an intense person in-person. If someone is a 99 D on the DiSC profile, you can feel it when they’re in there in the room. When this person is in the room, the energy of the group changes. That’s him. He’s intense all the time. He can’t even sit down and have a nice lunch. Great guy but not someone that you would, “You want to go hang out?” That’s not going to happen with that guy.
Now I’m intrigued.
I’m not even sure if he knows how to have fun.
They always say sometimes the worst thing is meeting your hero and he is my hero. Ever since I read The Compound Effect, that book changed my life. I read Entrepreneur Rollercoaster after that. Life-changing books. I always wondered, “Would he be the same in person? Is he this person I built him up to be?” I haven’t built that test.
He’s still my hero but his position on family is, “You shouldn’t have kids because it will limit what you give.” He’s all about business.
We’re more about balance. Let’s talk about balance. What is your why? Why are you doing this? Why do you do all this?
There’s a couple of things. I’m screwed up. The cocktail of coming here as an immigrant and having your parents in Asian culture, we came here to chase the American dream. It’d be an absolute disappointment if we didn’t pursue the American dream. Take every opportunity that you can have in this country. There’s no hard ceiling on what you can achieve so I’m going to go as far as I can go.
The second thing is growing up in a Chinese family and the oldest son, my parents always said, “When we retire, when we get old, you are responsible for taking care of us.” It’s not, “Put us in a home,” or this and that. It’s like, “We’re probably going to live with you. This is what’s going to happen.” It was also like, “If anything happens to us, you are responsible to take care of your five younger brothers. You need to sacrifice yourself to make sure that they’re successful.” This is what I grew up with.
You talk about this model, “No matter what you do, it’s not good enough,” so that creates a competitive drive. After every exam, you’re looking over the kids and you’re like, “What did they get on their tests?” There’s that. A big thing is being super competitive and knowing that no matter what you did was never good enough for mom and dad. That screws you up in the head so it makes you want to pursue and achieve everything. It’s an achievement addiction. If the only way to get mom and dad’s attention is to do well then you’re programmed to always try to do well.
I’ve put a lot of thought into what motivates everybody because now I’m a coach. I’ve got students and I’ve got to figure out how can I push every individual student to succeed. I’ve figured out that it’s more emotional in nature. I can give you steps A, B, C. That’s in my course. A lot of students will get stuck on something. They get stuck in an area of the business and usually, there’s this emotional component. They’re struggling with motivation because there’s something in their head and I’m not motivating them enough somehow.
I’ve been paying a lot of attention to what is motivating everybody. It’s funny, I feel like it’s three things. It’s either there are competitive people like you so it’s either people are motivated by competition, revenge or fear. Maybe sometimes a combo of two. For me, it’s revenge and fear all day long. I was having this conversation and somebody was like, “You’re not competitive other than in business.” I was like, “I’m not a competitive person at all, not even in business.” I am motivated by revenge and fear.
I one-time had a crappy boss. I had a boss that was so bad and such a jerk that that was this revenge. It’s like, “I’ll show you. I will never work for someone like you again.” That was my revenge. It’s like, I’ll get myself out of this situation. One day, I will get to see you and I will not be working for you anymore. I’ll be so happy.” That’s what got me to be an entrepreneur.
That’s great because there are a couple of things where that has happened, where I’ve faced rejection and it fuels me. “Watch me. I’m going to succeed despite you.”
Fear is more of a back against the wall. I’ve heard that the human body apparently performs better under stress. Our performance is better under stress. I perform much better under stress. When my back is against the wall and I’m afraid, I’m afraid of failure, I’m afraid of like, “I’m not going to be able to pay my bills.” Something happened personally so then I am like, “I better make money so I can pay my way out of this.” It sounds like I have to pay my bail or something. It’s like, “I need to throw money at this problem.”
It’s great that you figured that out because one of the hardest things is how to figure out how to motivate people. I can’t stand motivating people. I love that you’ve taken the time to figure that out because if you can motivate someone, you can get a lot out of them.
The best way to make more money without spending more money is to convert better.
I had a student, a younger guy and I could tell. I was like, “I bet fear motivates him.” I was like, “What’s worse? Low balling sellers or moving back in with your parent in your twenties?” He’s like, “Moving back in with my parents definitely.” I’m like, “Make those offers then.” Steve, it has been a pleasure. What are you working on that’s big to you? I know you have the Real Estate Disruptors podcast, where people can find you there and they should absolutely subscribe. Is there anything else you want to share?
We also do sales training, which is one of the most important things that we need today given the prevalence of information and knowledge out there. We’re all pulling the same list, cold calling and texting the same guy. You need to be different. For me, I’m passionate about running lien. How can you make more money without spending more money? The best way to make more money without spending more money is to convert better. Convert more calls to appointments, convert more appointments to sales and buy them cheaper than you were buying before. The key to that is to get better on the phone and better in person. It’s through the sale.
Steve, thank you so much. Is there anything left you want to say or any last thoughts?
You may have heard this before but why not you? We live in the best country on the planet. You and I were examples of what can happen if you go all in so why not you? Why not now? Let’s go for it. Get everything that you deserve.
Steve, thank you. We appreciate you.
Thank you. Take care.
If you want to learn more about virtual real estate investing, check out my program at www.WholesalingInc.com/virtual. Thanks. Have a great day.
- Real Estate Disruptors – podcast
- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- House Buyer Network
- The Road Less Stupid
- Think and Grow Rich
- Think and Grow Rich – Audible
- INSANE PRODUCTIVITY
- The Compound Effect
- Entrepreneur Rollercoaster
About Lauren Hardy
Lauren Hardy is a Virtual Investing expert and Real Estate influencer who owns multiple companies in the real estate industry including real estate investment, coaching, and software companies. She is also a Wholesaling Inc coach and co-host of the Wholesaling Inc Podcast.
Her experience in the last decade has been focused on real estate investing and creating products and services to serve the real estate investing community. If you are interested in investing in real estate virtually, house flipping, or virtual landlording, Lauren’s your girl.