Table of Contents - From Homeless to Multi-Family Mogul with Alfonso Cuadra
Dave Debeau [00:00:09] Hi everyone, this is Dave Debeau with another episode of the Property Profits Real Estate podcast. I hope you're doing well. We're off to a great start with this episode, that's for sure, because I've got a relatively new friend of mine, but it's definitely an old and when it comes to being an entrepreneur and be a real estate investor, and that is Mr. Alfonso Cuadra, if you're not familiar with Alfonso, you should be this guy is all over the place. He's made a splash in many, many different industries. And and most recently, he's one of the the famous front line speakers with Key Fire. So McGilvray and company Alfonso help them out a lot. And he's a very, very successful real estate entrepreneur in his own right. He's been doing this for over 20 years, plus a variety of different businesses as well. He's inspired tons of people. He's written books, he's published magazines, he does interviews. And I think he even got your own TV show or something like that, if I'm not mistaken, Alfonso. So you're a busy guy. Welcome to the show.
Alfonso Cuadra [00:01:14] Thank you. But I'm going to say one thing. Thank you for saying my name correctly. My last name, whether
Dave Debeau [00:01:23] it's in your cell phones or whatever.
Alfonso Cuadra [00:01:26] Yeah, we say that it must come from your background. He did live in Costa Rica and it shows
Dave Debeau [00:01:35] my pleasure, my friend. So, hey, you know what? Things are on the up and up and up and up with your life right now.
Alfonso Cuadra [00:01:42] But it hasn't always been that way.
Dave Debeau [00:01:44] You've got a very, very inspirational rags to riches story, and I think it'll give a lot of us a good, well, inspiration, plus a good kick in the pants, because, quite frankly, I think a lot of us, especially Canadians, we're just too fat and comfortable. So tell us a little bit about your background, where they came from and how you got in all the stuff that,
Alfonso Cuadra [00:02:06] yeah, it's, you know, a while back. So I just start at the very beginning. I was a refugee. I came to Canada as a refugee lending refugee from a war torn country, El Salvador, and as a result, had some issues in school, ended up having trouble at school, dropping out of school at 15 years old, leaving home as well and being homeless at 15. Panhandling for change had extremely dark, dark moments, just like a lot of people had to me, my dark moments or my dark moments. But yourself, Dave, you probably had some dark moments as well in your life. You said, you know what I mean? Yeah. Yeah, I had a life changing moment. At 17 when my daughter was born, I became a father, changed my perspective, gave me a why. Give me a reason, give me a purpose. And I always tell people purpose. Powerful enough will make you unstoppable. And at 17 years old, I started a business from my locker in high school. I always have to highlight that it was illegal business.
Dave Debeau [00:03:11] Yeah, because some some locker room locker business, as I remember, heard all that lingo. So just to back up because you dropped out of school when you're fifteen and your daughter was born when you're seventeen, is that why you got back into school? Is that why you went back?
Alfonso Cuadra [00:03:26] Yes. Yes. I returned to school and like everybody else, I got a job. Right. And five dollars an hour was the minimum wage at that time. And it just wasn't going to cut it for a small family. You know, I had a young I was a father, basically. And so I started selling jeans and t shirts for my locker in high school. And that business ended up turning up to be a good business Canada wide by the time it was twenty. And in the millions by the time I was twenty one and I learned a lot about business, one thing I learned is that I'm extremely vulnerable. As a business owner, you are subject to the economy, what people feel like, new products, new ways of delivering the product. You've got to be driving it. Yeah. And so this is where I started in real estate about twenty one years ago. I needed something that was indestructible. Right. And what I chose is multifamily and I've never looked back since it became my full time gig.
Dave Debeau [00:04:30] So there you are. You're twenty one years old. You're rocking and rolling. You got a very young family this time, but you're a successful young guy. I can imagine a lot of that go to a guy's head that this would have happened to me, that's for sure.
Alfonso Cuadra [00:04:44] Yeah. So I'm leaving little bits of the story because I'm not sure how much time we have here, but I almost ended up losing everything well and going from nothing to now having this successful lifestyle of money. I was very much a consumer. I was not an investor. I was buying cars and jewelry and spending my money on a lot of dumb stuff. And I almost like. Everything, and when I realized that it was a consumer, I read a book that started reading books and I started educating myself on what it really meant to be wealthy, not rich, but wealthy. This is where I started in the real estate.
Dave Debeau [00:05:20] Nice. So did you start right out of the gate into multifamily investing or what was your first property?
Alfonso Cuadra [00:05:25] My first income property. So I started with like everybody else, you know, with the one season to thinking that that's all I could afford, quickly found out that that's not a real investment. So my first income property was a duplex that I converted into a triplex. And I was able to leverage that a few times to do a reified within the same month. And my first year ended up with 10 properties. Wow. And I've never looked back since.
Dave Debeau [00:05:54] Very, very nice. Very nice. All right. So then you made the switch and you started focusing on larger multifamily properties. And that's how you and I first met, was our. Yes, our mutual friend and acquaintance, Mr. Ken Beeton. So, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Alfonso Cuadra [00:06:08] So that's what I'm into apartment buildings now like. I mean, people don't start off in apartment buildings. What I discovered quickly is I would buy the second, I would buy at five or seven unit building. I would think like, wait a minute, this is the exact same work as this triplex. Actually, this is more of a pain in the behind than this seven unit. And so then I said, OK, let me buy between seven and 10. And then when I bought the 10 to 13 units, I remember thinking like, whoa, this is the exact same work as this three unit or the seven unit. So I started to buy and thirteens and Sixteens and 20 and 30 units and thirty six units and 50 units and so on.
Dave Debeau [00:06:54] Nice, nice, nice, nice. I think you just bought a whole bunch of chems doors if I'm not mistaken. Yeah. I recognize a few of those ones that I saw on Facebook, but hey I know that building. Yeah. Congratulations. That's wonderful. Yeah. OK, so Alphonso and then tell me a little bit about how did you how did you come across Keysborough, Scott McGilvray, that whole gang, how did you get involved in that?
Alfonso Cuadra [00:07:21] Oh, that's pretty cool. I was doing it for 14 years now. I've been educating people on real estate. And one day I got a phone call and they said, you know what? We heard what you're doing. Would you want to come in and teach for us? And at first I said, well, you know, I have my own thing. But then when I discovered what they have, I mean, the biggest investment community across Canada, almost two thousand advanced students across Canada is just incredible. And I thought, you know, if if my mission is to help as many people as possible, I know that for sure. I can help more people being involved with Keysborough than than anywhere else.
Dave Debeau [00:08:04] Very cool. So, Alphonso, I think you already answered it. Looking back, if you could do anything different and probably just get into those bigger deals faster if I read between the lines.
Alfonso Cuadra [00:08:16] Yeah, well, I would have leveled up sometimes. You know, if the question is if I could go back, what would I do differently? Right. And so what I would do is level up as fast as possible because I, I spend a lot of time having to undo, you know, I would buy the two houses in the three houses in the in the 40s. And then by the time I get to the the set in the tens and I was like, oh no, this is where I'm supposed to be. And then I start liquidating all that stuff and then to get into bigger deals. And then I got into the bigger deals and I started to liquidate the savings in the tens. And so I would level up. Definitely what happens is we make decisions based on where we are. Right. And you need to determine exactly where you're going to start with the end in mind and establish what does that look like for you and operate as if you already have that to date. And so if I would have done that, if I could have had a bigger vision for myself, I would have started I would look up. I would have started with 10 units and above. And so well that most people make is they live within their own capabilities and their own money. And and so they they don't truly expand. They're just stuck in this. What's comfortable?
Dave Debeau [00:09:35] Well, I agree with you, but also, I mean, you only know what you know at the moment, right? So twenty, twenty nine. So it's a lot easier. But now that you've been you've been in the education business for a long time and I know you've worked with lots of people, what do you think is the biggest mental block that we have that just you know, it seems like when we're younger, we're more willing to take that risk. We're more willing to jump in with both. We're more willing to do that, but I know you've got a ton of middle aged students, how do you help those people break that? That comfort zone wall down and start thinking really big that it's a challenge.
Alfonso Cuadra [00:10:23] It starts at the very beginning. The goal for a lot of people is to be comfortable for sure. That's your biggest mistake right there, right? Because you can't if you don't take risks, you can't grow. And if you can't grow, you're not going to be fulfilled. And if you don't have life fulfillment, you can't be happy. And if you can't be happy, then why are we here? And so at the end of the day, people get into their own way. Not only do they get stuck in their own ways, but they get in their own way. And so your biggest obstacle will always be you. Plain and simple, and so we tend to I mean, rich, that poor dad, how many copies of that book sold? You know,
Dave Debeau [00:11:06] I don't even know I'm way over 20 million.
Alfonso Cuadra [00:11:08] Yeah, yeah. Think about it. I mean, anybody you come across I read that book that had a book right here, rich, that poor, that one of the one of the books that I read at the very beginning. They show me which the page that says to buy your own personal residence as an investment. It's not in here
Dave Debeau [00:11:27] on in there.
Alfonso Cuadra [00:11:29] I'll skip that part and make that very first mistake. And so because we're programed as kids in the education system, we're programed to make all these investments that are just, you know, they might be good investments for the for everybody else. But if as an investor, these are all consumer based decisions that people are making like mutual funds, your own personal residence, everybody played Monopoly. Nowhere in Monopoly does it say buy your own house. Right. Our parents our parents told us, you know, don't read by because you're making the landlord rich. The message should have been, don't rent, become the landlord. Right? Right.
Dave Debeau [00:12:11] And so they're better yet by the apartment building and living the damn thing and everyone else pay for your rent.
Alfonso Cuadra [00:12:19] And so people have these ideas. And so it's very difficult to break down all this programing that has been happening since you were in grade to. Right. And so and by the way, some people can break through. Some people start to get it right. And those are the people that are you see them like five, six years down the road and they're owning multiunit and they've created freedom for themselves.
Dave Debeau [00:12:47] Yeah, definitely, definitely. All right, very, very well put. So, I mean, again, and so us getting out our own way is a big mistake people make or a big challenge and they have to overcome thinking too small. Another big challenge that people have to overcome. What are some of the other big. Things that get in people's way when it comes to becoming successful real estate investors, because, again, I know you've been around the game for a long time, you see of in some rock and roll with the same education, others completely get what is what's the
Alfonso Cuadra [00:13:20] biggest mistake that people make that I see from my perspective is they don't promote enough, plain and simple. You can have the best business in the world, the best property. But if people don't know that you're doing it, it's useless. And so people do business with people they know. And I always tell a lot of my students or people that I'm mentoring or anybody, you know, you have to get out there. You have to market. You have to invest in yourself, you know, people's business cards in the way that present deals. Everything's done on the cheap. Everything's done based on where they are and where the budgets that they have. But if if they were to realize, you know what, I want to go over here, right. If I want to go over here, I need to operate in that way to date. And so the marketing, the investing in really nice business cards, really great websites, all those marketing materials, those are all things that people don't do. And they wait for five years because everybody's saying, well, you know, when I make it, then I start letting people know that that's how it works. You know, you got to let go today and then you make it very good.
Dave Debeau [00:14:31] So for somebody is kind of say, OK, well, that sounds good. What are the first steps you would suggest to somebody? To somebody? Because, again, what I find, Alphonso, you probably see this as well, is a lot of new real estate entrepreneurs are coming from job background where they've been a cog in the machine. They've been an employee all of their adult lives, and that's all they know. Now we're bringing or bringing about kicking and screaming to becoming an entrepreneur, a real estate entrepreneur. But they are really geared up for it. So what's or they don't have the background. So where would you suggest people start when it comes to marketing and getting the word out about themselves if they don't have a clue, if they haven't done that kind of stuff before?
Alfonso Cuadra [00:15:14] I had a mentor one time. Sure. Something really powerful that I've never forgotten all these years. And he said the most valuable real estate is not in your portfolio. Fonzo The most valuable piece of real estate is actually on stage from the stage. People have inspired people to go to war from the stage. People have stopped wars from the stage. People have created visions that we are living today. You know, if you can master the stage, you will always get the business right. So the very first piece of advice that I tell anyone find a niche and become an expert at that niche and go, I mean, you have no idea how many investment clubs there is out there. Get out there and start talking, start sharing, start teaching, start giving in. As a result, you will attract people into your business
Dave Debeau [00:16:06] very, very well. That and now it's better than ever because not only do you have those those real stages you can talk from, but you've got these kind of things as well.
Alfonso Cuadra [00:16:15] You can get the podcast. Yeah, it's incredible. It's incredible. The the leverage that we have, the ability to gain an audience quickly and be everywhere. You know, people people said to me, I wonder, why did you go on tick tock. Right. Well, guess what? I'm the only real estate guy on tick tock and I'm getting massive amounts of audience and views because I'm the first one there.
Dave Debeau [00:16:43] We've got some pretty slick moves, too, that might
Alfonso Cuadra [00:16:47] not even
Dave Debeau [00:16:48] know what the hell tick tock was until I saw you popping up here. Yeah. Went back and saw Somdev.
Alfonso Cuadra [00:16:54] So people people always ask me, are Fonzo, where should I market in my answer? It's always everywhere, you know, write a book. The second you have a book, you have a website, you're speaking in front of audiences. You are now an expert. Right. And so if you can master that, one part is going to be easy to funnel people into your business. And so, as you know, you can only go so far with your own money, with your own time, in your own credit. You do need other people's money, other people's credit, other people's time. And the only way to get that quickly is to start becoming an expert now.
Dave Debeau [00:17:32] So Afonso, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm going to I'm going to make a guess here. And my guess is that you've never been a shy guy.
Alfonso Cuadra [00:17:40] Would that be
Dave Debeau [00:17:41] what would I be fair in saying that?
Alfonso Cuadra [00:17:44] You know what? I was never a shy guy, but I did have a problem speaking in English, in public. Right. I come from Latin America. My brain sometimes is thinking in two different languages. So I was very self-conscious. Know, first of all, what if I say a word or or something? Know, maybe people will find. I don't have. Educated or whatnot, all those things are about me, the message is what matters and how people feel about your message and what they can do about what you're saying. And so once I got out of my own head, I was able to communicate, engage with people and actually be of service to them.
Dave Debeau [00:18:25] And so that is such a powerful concept, right. Because that holds so many of us back, because we're so worried about how we look, how we sound, what other people are going to think about us. We're not thinking about how we're serving the other person. Yeah. What the hell we have to say.
Alfonso Cuadra [00:18:40] Yeah, it's a it's it's very self-centered. Right. What are people going to think about me? You know, I've done tick videos. I have like nine thousand views where I'm doing things that are silly. But you know what? As a result, I had one person actually two months ago start consuming everything that I had online, then reached out to me and said, we want to become a joint venture partner with you. We have about five hundred thousand dollars to invest. And so it pays to be yourself. It pays to be authentic. It pays to be out there. It pays to be, you know, serving and creating content like this podcast like this is a big commitment that you have. I mean, you need to have guests on a weekly basis, know it needs to be engaging. You have to do your research before you bring on somebody here that is speaking out of line or giving advice that doesn't serve people. That's a big commitment. But as a result, you have attracted thousands and thousands of people to you. And so that's exactly how it's done. Anybody can do this.
Dave Debeau [00:19:43] Yeah, very good. Very well said. All right, my friend. Time flies when you're having fun. We'll have to come back and do part two of this at some point that you think we're done. We are in America. Time flies when people want to find out more about Alfonso Quadro. What should they do?
Alfonso Cuadra [00:19:59] They can go to our farms, whether they come or go to Google, Alfonso, rather, Aiman, everything. You can go to my Tic-Tac, my Instagram, my Facebook, my everything, LinkedIn. I'm everywhere. Perfect.
Dave Debeau [00:20:14] Awesome. Check it out. And thank you very much for tuning in. And thanks, Alphonso, for being on the show. Really appreciate it. Thank you, sir. All right. Take care, everybody. Well, thanks very much for checking out the property profits podcast. And you like what we're doing here. Please head on over to iTunes, subscribe read us and leave us to review it. Very, very much appreciated. And if you're looking to create a regular flow of inbound investor inquiries about your real estate deals, then I invite you to attend one of my upcoming live online demonstrations. And you can check that out at Investor Attraction Demo Dotcom Ticker.