For Cody Sperber, the real estate investing seed was planted long ago -- when a Pollack Investments sign caught his eye on the way home from school. Curious as to what it took to get one’s name on a building (something little Cody saw as the ultimate sign of success), he went inside.
That’s when he first heard the term "real estate investor," and it set the stage for what would become a million-dollar career path just a few decades down the line.
Several years and a few reads of "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" later, Cody found himself at lunch with an old friend. Fresh off a flipping project that netted him $80,000 and a brand new Mercedes, his buddy reignited the real estate fire in Cody, and the rest was history.
Now, he’s done it all: wholesaled, flipped, rehabbed, and bought-and-held rental properties in markets across the nation. He’s closed millions of dollars’ worth of deals, built out an entire team to support his efforts, and even drummed up a hefty social media following.
But it wasn’t easy. In fact, according to Cody, it was a path riddled with mistakes -- many of them costly ones.
"I’ve done it all," he said. "I screwed so much stuff up. I’m now at a point where I’ve done thousands of deals, and at that level, you make every mistake under the sun."
One of those mistakes led to a $60,000 loss on a flipping project. Another saw his partner suddenly clean out their joint bank account. Bad contractors, inaccurate property comps, and sight-unseen purchases were just a few others.
Still, Cody says, he has no regrets. All of those errors, while sometimes expensive, helped him build the business he has today.
"I learned very valuable lessons through all of them," he said.
One of the first lessons Cody learned was to choose his partners carefully. He’d been burned a few times -- once by the aforementioned partner who took every penny from their joint bank account, and another time by a partner who bought a sight-unseen property only to leave Cody with an 18% hard money loan and a next-to-impossible sale.
"I fired my partner soon after that and vowed to never buy a property sight-unseen again," Cody said. "You have to know who you’re partnering with and why you’re partnering with them. A lot of new entrepreneurs and real estate investors make the mistake of partnering with people that they're friends with or that are just like them. You need the Yin and the Yang."
That sight-unseen sale also gave him another valuable takeaway: Always have an exit strategy, and don’t overcommit.
"My ego got committed in that deal," he said. "I didn’t want to admit defeat and cut my losses early, and I rode it all the way to the end."
Cody says he could have saved close to $50,000 if he’d just known when to quit.
The keys to success
While turning all those mistakes into stepping stones certainly helped Cody get to where he is today, he says his work ethic and ability to hone the right team -- after those first few partners, of course -- have also played a major role.
"I surround myself with really great people," he said. "I hire slow and I fire really fast. It’s served me well because I put the right people in the right seat on the bus at the right time."
He also works hard to keep those strong team members around -- both with opportunity and a real-life stake in the company’s success.
"A lot of my team have hopes and dreams of being successful real estate investors themselves," he said. "So we have a program in place that allows them at any point in time -- if they find a deal they want to buy -- there’s a $5,000 buyout program. They can give us $5,000 and take over the deal and do it themselves. I want them to win, too."
Cody’s marketing and branding prowess have also factored into his success -- and a quick look at any of his social profiles will prove as much. On Instagram, for example, he has over 1.2 million followers. On Twitter, it’s almost 18,000. Over on YouTube, his hundreds of videos have clocked in more than 20 million views from across the world.
"Back in the day, we used to have to go to TV or radio and spend thousands and thousands of dollars to reach 100,000 plus people," Cody said. "I can go live right now and reach 400,000 with the click of a button."
Though Cody bills himself as an "aggressive, omnipresent marketer," it’s not just fans and followers he’s garnered through his efforts. Cody’s actually found business partners in the social world. On occasion, it’s even helped him drum up funding for various rehab and investment projects over the years.
"Real estate is a people business. It’s a relationship business," he says. "If you’re not building a personal brand, if you’re not taking advantage of social media and becoming a creator instead of a consumer, you’re missing out on tremendous income and opportunity."
Teaching the next generation
On top of his so-called "day job," Cody is also a busy educator in the field of real estate.
Through The Clever Investor (a moniker playfully given to him by his wife), he offers mentoring, live training, and a variety of courses on wholesaling, flipping, negotiation, lead generation, and more. His 100 Million Academy offers entrepreneurial guidance -- both from himself and from household names like Neil Patel and Jordan Belfort.
It’s not a huge surprise that Cody would want to pass on his knowledge. In the early years of his career, he sought out a mentor himself, and he advises all newbie investors -- at least the ones looking for a more active stream of investing income -- to do so as well.
"Lock arms with someone that’s already done it," he said. "I’ve done thousands of deals and screwed everything up under the sun. You don’t have to make the same mistakes.