I am CEO

Real State Mogul Builds Wealth by Giving Exceptional Service to Clients

Full Episode from I AM CEO Podcast - IAM2040

In this episode, we have David Pena, a real estate tycoon and immigrant from El Salvador, shares his success story. Pena discusses his journey of immigrating to America and learning English, getting involved in real estate, and built his career.

He discusses the current state of the real estate market and advises potential buyers to purchase now despite higher interest rates, with the idea of refinancing when the rates drop. Pena also shares his thoughts on CEO mindset and fitness habits that keep him energized.

In addition, he talks about providing significant value to his clients and the importance of maintaining positive attitudes no matter the business climate.

Website: davidpenarealtor.com

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Full Interview:


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David Pena Teaser 00:00

So I'm telling people, I'm educating people like, look, if you buy now and with a high interest, sure it sucks because your paying your payment high, but you can refinance later when the interest rates come down because they will come down. And the moment the interest rates come down, a lot of people, buyers who have been sitting in the fences, they will jump into the market and it's gonna drive the prices even higher than what you would be willing to pay now.

Intro 00:28

Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:56

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have David Pena. David, excited to have you on the show.

David Pena 01:05

Hey, I'm super excited to be here with you and spending some awesome time.

Gresham Harkless 01:08

Yeah, absolutely. You're doing so many phenomenal things, so what I want to do before we jumped into the interview was read a little bit more about Davis and hear about all the awesome things that he's working on.

David is a real estate mogul. He immigrated to America and is now living the American dream by helping people build wealth through real estate. What I absolutely loved about David and doing a little bit of homework and research is that David was born in El Salvador and he immigrated into the United States when he was 14. Just reading about his journey, his work ethic, the things that he put in, I think it's inspirational for anybody, especially I'm sure for the clients that he works with as well.

Some other really cool things, he's been 40 under 40 and loudened, Virginia.  I also read that you're a cross fitter and an ultra marathon runner. If I read that correctly, David, are you ready to speak to the I Am CEO community?

David Pena 01:55

I'm so excited. Yeah, I'm so excited to do this.

[restrict paid=”true”]

But yeah, you're right. I got a few ultra marathons out of the way just so I can have the bragging rights to say, I'm an ultramarathon runner.

Gresham Harkless 02:07

Yes, absolutely. That's something I aspire to do to have that checked off the box, so I can put that in my bio as well too.

David Pena 02:14

I might join you, not a hundred miles, but I might join you in a 50 miler if you're down.

Gresham Harkless 02:21

Hey, look, I got to make sure I can join myself in a 50 mile. So we'll see. We'll see from there. Yeah, absolutely.

So I guess to kick everything off, let's rewind the clock a little bit, hear a little bit more about how you got started. What I call your CEO story.

David Pena 02:36

Yeah. You're right, I came to America when I was 14, didn't speak any English and I knew one of the first steps to do was if I wanted to succeed in this country, I had to speak the language. I started working at a restaurant as a dishwasher and then got myself through ESL classes, adult education. Yeah, it was a great journey. You're going to get people who might not see your angle but you just got to let those people like water rub off your shoulder, your back. That's the same way you're going to get negativity coming your way. And if you have people that don't think that you can make it, you got to do it twice for them so you can show them and say, look, I did it twice for you.

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But yeah, I got people like that in my life. I get people make comments about it and I was like, you know what? I was very naive, which is good to have that naivety in you, cause you're like, how did I do that? So I was saying earlier looking back now it's like, how did I have that? I need to find that drive, the hunger. So I still think I have some of it, but it's awesome and I miss that hungry, that naivete in me.

So, when I was 18, I took an ESL class. I was taking ESL classes. I learned about the GD, took the exam, probably failed it like eight times because it was in a foreign language. Then a few years later, I met this lady, I was working at a restaurant and she was she was like, you'll be great in real estate. So I started looking into it and I'm like, wow, the bar to get into real estate, get the test. It's so low that you're like, this is so easy. And then you Google, right? Because Google is right. It shows you that you can be making millions of dollars. I was like, this is it. This is the path I'm choosing. I got my license when I was like 22 and it was quite a journey, man. Quite a journey.

Gresham Harkless 04:42

Yeah, It always is a journey. I love that now you would say, I love what you said is that sometimes when people tell you that you can't do something, you have to do it twice to prove them to prove yourself.

David Pena 04:53

You have to be very careful when to those people that are telling you stuff, because I feel like the older you get the easier you can be persuaded oh, this is so stupid. So, I'm going through this right now. I'm trying to do some a little bit of online content.

Gresham Harkless 05:06

Yeah. Could you take us through exactly what that looks like, how you're serving clients, and how you're making that impact them?

David Pena 05:12

So this is gonna air in a few months, the market might be a little bit different in 2024 but as of 2023, a lot of people are fearful. The interest rates went up. Everybody's scared. So I'm trying to tell people, there's always going to be those people that will never buy. They're like, I'm working and waiting for a market crash. And you're like what makes you think that? Oh, it's a market crash as a market. These are the same people that thought there was going to be a market crash in COVID 19 and granted, we don't know what was happening then. They're like, I'm going to buy it when the market is okay. I don't know what's going to happen, but now based on data, what we have, we are about 5 to 6 million homes short from all the growth in the United States. So a market crash is a little bit like, we're not seeing that happen unless, you never know something could happen and we get into a war or whatever, then things might change.

But as of right now, we're not seeing a market crash. So I'm telling people, I'm educating people like, look, if you buy now and with a high interest, sure, it sucks because your paying your payment this high, but you can refinance later when the interest rates come down because they will come down. The moment the interest rates come down, a lot of people, buyers who have been sitting in the fences, they will jump into the market and it's gonna drive the prices even higher than what you would be willing to pay now. It is easier to refinance than to compete with 20 other offers. But I love Warren Buffett's quote that says, be fearful when everybody's greedy and be greedy when everybody's fearful. This year, there's been a lot of fear. People are fearful. They don't know what's happening. This is the time for me, at least this is the time to be greedy. I'm like, I need to buy more real estate.

I own a couple of properties. I was able to close one on one a couple of weeks ago. And there is fear of course, but I'm reminding myself that quote, I'm like, okay, be fearful when everybody's greedy. Be greedy when everybody's fearful. This is an asset. I'm not buying a liability, but anyways that's what I'm telling people. It's about educating. Once you become a client, then we go into the level of service. I tried to give, white-glove service or whatever the saying is where Clients about 80 to 90% of my business is referral-based. So I tried to do such a great job with the clients where they're excited to refer me to their family members, friends also past clients. I have this family. I helped them buy a fourth house in 2017. A couple of years ago, they sold the property, basically the American Dream, what America was built on, right?

They bought this townhouse. They made $70,000, 80,000, I don't remember exactly, but they used that money and put it in the next property. Now they have the single-family home, took a garage, leaving the dream, that's what America is. I just love helping that type of people because first of all, they're coming back as a pro as a past client and I'm helping them. It's definitely an honor and humbling to help them.

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Gresham Harkless 08:26

Yeah, absolutely. I love that. Is that part of what you feel like is your secret sauce? It could be for yourself. The business or combination of both.

Is it your ability to kind of understand how important the educational part is, but also be able to for lack of a better term, roll up your sleeves and do the work as well too?

David Pena 08:44

That's a great question. I think that would be a better question for my clients, but I've noticed that I have a really good friend of mine. He says cause I wondered, I was like I got this deal. And I was like, Oh, I guess they like me. He's like you do what it takes. You do whatever it takes. I'll be working with this with this guy, an investor. I met him a few years ago and we do multiple deals a year. We buy the properties, but he fixes it up and then we sell it. We were having a conversation the other day, because he's a lot of the stuff, the reason I work with you is because you are doing a lot of like legwork behind the doors. Like I'm doing CMAs for this guy. He's like Hey, I'm interested in this property. How much do you sell for after his face?

I'm like, okay, these are the numbers. Here you go. He like, yeah, no, not good. So I'm doing that for him. Like that's an added value that I provide for my investor clients. I'm not getting paid for that, but I'm getting paid at the end, but it's building trust and it's building the referrals. So that's one of the reasons why he likes to work with me. I love to talk about myself. And some people don't believe what I say, I do think highly of myself, but I don't think I'm the big of a deal. This might be brand new news for people that know me, but I think is I'm a go-getter. Like I make things happen. Looking back for the last 17 years that I've been in the United States and how far I've come, it's okay and a lot of people see that. A lot of people seem okay, this guy is. It's a go-get-it.

People read my, bio and they're like, oh, okay, this guy is definitely somebody who is doing a net positive to society. I think that's what has helped me get where I am.

Gresham Harkless 10:33

Yeah, I love that. I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, book or even a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

David Pena 10:43

Ooh, those are good questions, man. So when I got into real estate, I didn't know what I was doing. So I went hard on reading books. I read this book, The Miracle Morning. I don't know if you heard of it. Yeah. So I do those habits. I did the meditation. I did the scribing and I tried to do scribe in a little bit of journaling every once in a while, but I probably need to get back into the saddle praying. it was, I think it's five or six, right? Savers. Silence, affirmations, vision, exercise, and scribe in journal. So it's five. So I wake up, mornings are one of the worst thing to do for me, like waking up. That is so hard. But I listen to at least one or two chapters in the Bible and I go hit the gym once that is done.

My day, that's all I need. So I tried to work out five days a week. So Saturday, maybe a Sunday, I usually take off and I'm telling you, man, Sunday night comes and I'm looking forward for the next day to go to the gym because it gives me order. It's like order a Sunday. It's good. It's weekend, but it's a little bit chaotic. You don't go to the gym. You wake up a little bit late. You're like maybe a little hangover, right? You're like, ah, Mondays still sucks going to the gym, but for me, it's like showing up and going to the gym that gives me order throughout the day. Cause then I'm like, okay. Yeah, the gym is done. This is the most important thing is my body. I got it out of the way.

Now I can go serve my clients. It gives me so much energy, right? Now I can do this kind of stuff and be like energetic and happy.

Gresham Harkless 12:29

Yeah, I love that. I appreciate you sharing that. So what would you consider to be a little bit more what I call a CEO nugget? This could be a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. I like to say it might be something you would tell your favorite client, or if you happen to hop into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

David Pena 12:43

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So that's easy that for some reason that came out so fast. It's all attitude. So I use it everywhere. I use it at the gym. I use it in my personal life and I use it on all the stuff. I'm having a conversation with you and you say I would have used it perfectly when you say the 50 mile and you're like I don't know if I can do it.

Happily I was, my go-to is with that attitude. So when I'm doing it with the clients, I try to know them well enough for me to say it. But I tried to say when they're like, I can't do this. You're like, I tried to tell him like Henry Ford, whether you think you can or you can't, you're right. But yeah, so when somebody says, I don't think I can do that. You won't, you can't with that attitude.

Gresham Harkless 13:26

Yeah, I love that. I'm definitely gonna borrow that from you. So I wanna ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO and our goal is to have different quote and quote, CEOs on this show.

So, David, what does being a CEO mean to you?

David Pena 13:37

It's a big weight on your shoulder being a CEO. We are a CEO of our lives. Whether somebody's working at a minimum wage job, you are a CEO, you are the CEO of your life. So for me, it will be to have control of your life and have your house in order. Because it doesn't matter what's happening with the government, doesn't matter what's happening in the world. If you're not able to pay your bills, the government is not going to come and save you. Being a CEO is being in charge and having an order in your house and being in control of what you can control. I cannot control the interest rates. What I can control is, maybe go harder on prospecting and attract more business. Talk to, to get them face to face to my clients and be like, Hey guys, you guys love me. Who do you know that's looking to move? The interest rates, sales will always happen.

2023 has been a tough years for a lot of people in real estate, but it's also been the best years for some agents. So why is it that somebody's having a great time of the year while other people are struggling? The biggest, the people become the wealthiest is during A downturn, right? When bear market people yeah, bear market, they have made the most wealth. Why? A lot of it has to do with attitude, right? Having the attitude and having their house in order. They're not sitting there complaining about. Oh, the market crash that I lost 50% of my equity on this. It's no. Okay. This has happened. This is how life is. Life is not supposed to be easy. What you can control is what is inside of your little walls, you're with you 24 seven.

So that's where you can control. You can control your mind. And if you can control your mind, you can have your house in order. I don't know if you were looking for a short response, but that was, I went in circles, man, that came out of left field.

Gresham Harkless 15:30

No, it's all good. That's a beautiful circle. David, truly appreciate that definition. Of course, I appreciate your time even more. So what I want to do now is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know. And of course, how best they can get ahold of you about all the awesome things that you're working on.

David Pena 15:45

You can find me on social media Instagram, Facebook. I have it's a David Pena 207. That's all around the board. I'm also doing a little bit of YouTube. Thank you so much for having me, man. I really appreciate your time. So I cover Virginia. I'm only licensed in Virginia, but I have colleagues who can help you in DC and Maryland.

If you're thinking about investing in any of these States, you let me know, and I will connect you with the right person.

Gresham Harkless 16:10

Awesome. Thank you so much for that David. Again, we'll have the information in the show notes so that you can reach out to David, but truly appreciate you for all the wisdom and knowledge that you provided.

I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

David Pena 16:21

Absolutely man. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time and we'll definitely see you again.

Outro 16:25

Thank you for listening to the I Am CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I Am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Want to level up your business even more, read blogs, listen to podcasts, and watch videos at cbnation.co. Also, check out our I Am CEO Facebook group.

This has been the I Am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


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