Episode 185: Investing in the US from Europe and finally quitting his job!
In today’s show, Pancham interviews Billy Keels – long-distance real estate investor, host of The Going Long Podcast, and founder of KeePon Cashflow.
Who would’ve thought that you can invest in the U.S. while being able to live your life in Europe? Billy has proven that it is indeed possible! Now, he is on a mission to help others establish new options for their lives so that they can live comfortably without worrying about unexpected work schedules and be able to spend more time doing things that they love most!
In this episode, learn new things about long-distance real estate investing as he shares how he got started investing outside of the country and what you’ll need to get started! Get inspired as he discusses the mindset that led to his transition from a successful corporate employee to investing passively in different asset classes!
Listen and enjoy the show!
Tune in to this show and enjoy!
- 0:42 – Pancham introduces Billy to the show
- 4:09 – From working in the corporate world to thriving in real estate investing
- 8:35 – Leading factors that motivate him to get started in investing
- 13:41 – On finally being able to control his own time and finances
- 21:59 – How he was able to successfully invest passively outside of the country
- 27:35 – Surrounding yourself with experts and being able to learn from them
- 33:35 – His morning routine and how it help in achieving success
- 35:32 – Taking the Leap Round
- 35:32 – His 1st duplex investment outside of Wall Street
- 36:43 – Turning long-distance investing from his weakness to being his strengths
- 37:39 – Why his stock market investment didn’t work out as expected
- 40:04 – Simple formula to follow when you first start investing
- 40:44 – How you can connect with Billy
3 Key Points:
- Real estate investing could helped in building a lifestyle that would allow you to have freedom and be able to live wherever and however you want to without limits.
- When doing long-distance investing, it’s better to invest passively as it would require less time from you but would still have big returns.
- The most critical part to think of as a long-distance investor is having a team that you trust and could align with your goals so that it would be easier to look for investments.
Get in Touch:
- Billy Keels Website – http://keeponcashflow.com/
- First Generation Capital Partners Website – https://www.firstgencp.com/
- Billy Keels LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/billykeels/
- The Gold Collar Investor Banking – https://thegoldcollarinvestor.com/banking/
- Gold Collar Investor Club – https://thegoldcollarinvestor.com/club/
- Pancham Gupta Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! By Robert T. Kiyosaki – https://www.amazon.com/Rich-Dad-Poor-Teach-Middle/dp/1612680194
- The Miracle Morning Series – https://www.amazon.com/The-Miracle-Morning-15-book-series/dp/B07B5RD8MK
Welcome to The Gold Collar Investor podcast with your host, Pancham Gupta. This podcast is dedicated to helping the high-paid professionals to break out of the Wall Street investments and create multiple income streams. Here’s your host, Pancham Gupta.
Hi. This is Russell Gray, co-host of The Real Estate Guys radio show, and you are listening to The Gold Collar Investor podcast.
Pancham Gupta: Welcome to The Gold Collar Investor podcast. This is your host, Pancham. Really appreciate you for tuning in today. Let’s get into today’s show. Today, I have my very good friend, Billy Keels, on the podcast. Billy is on a mission to help those high-wage earners and/or retirees that have been forgotten by so many in society. He’s determined to help you feel comfortable and confident going against conventional wisdom by being okay with investing in real assets and doing that beyond your backyard.
As a long-distance real estate investor, Billy is utilizing the skills that he’s developed over the last 23 years as a happy, successful corporate employee at some of the world’s largest market-leading IT multinational companies to become an entrepreneur. As part of his journey, he’s hyper-focused on consistently helping you to create new alternatives for your life so that you can be also happy about going into your job.
As he builds his family of investors and students, he is determined to help each one of them enjoy each and every moment doing the things that they love most. No more looking at mobile phones during family outings to see which emergency you have to respond to, no more sitting in meetings where you feel like you’re wasting your time, no more early morning slides because your boss recommends that you be there, and no more missing your child’s special events because you are staying overnight in a hotel eating room service.
With the desire to add as much value to each interaction that he has, the 20+ years of travel throughout some 86 countries working with multiple global currencies, his ability to fluently speak five languages and his passion for living and working across cultures are just some of the qualities that make Billy unique in his ability to serve each and every person that he comes in contact with. Billy, welcome to the show.
Billy Keels: Pancham, it’s so nice to be here. I’m really, really looking forward to the conversation, man.
Pancham Gupta: Yeah. It’s been so long since I’ve seen you in person. I know you live out there in Spain. I was super excited to visit you in Spain. In April of 2020, I had everything booked, and everyone knows what happened in March of 2020 – the world shut down. I had to cancel my trip, obviously. Here we are, two years later, we’re connecting. It’s actually April 1, 2022; we are recording this. I’m super excited to get connected with you here. I know you have a lot of updates. Welcome.
Billy Keels: Thank you so much, Pancham. I remember us; we were in Las Vegas in January of 2019. We talked about it – make time to visit with one another, and all that stuff, and then the world changed three months later. It was a very, very interesting time, but we made it through. We’re on the other side. Now, we’re ready for a lot of positive things continuing to happen.
Pancham Gupta: Yes, absolutely. Before we get started, Billy, are you ready to fire up my listeners, break out of Wall Street investments?
Billy Keels: Yes, I am. Let’s do it. I’m absolutely ready to help break them out of Wall Street. Absolutely.
Pancham Gupta: Awesome, man, awesome. Let’s start with this. Tell our listeners about your background, and more importantly, the person behind that background.
Billy Keels: Yeah, sure. Just really quickly, before I do that, Pancham, I know you put a lot of time and energy into this. As a fellow podcaster, if people haven’t already, definitely — because of all the value that you’re adding — just take a couple of seconds to leave you an honest, written review and rating, because you’re doing an awesome job here at The Gold Collar Investor. It’s absolutely awesome. I love what you’re doing. I love the message that you are out there helping to add value to everybody. Everybody, if you haven’t done that, go ahead and do that really, really quickly.
Pancham Gupta: Thank you, Billy. Actually, you know what? It’s almost getting towards the 200th episode, and I have actually never asked for a review.
Billy Keels: You know what? That’s fantastic. Let me do it for you, man. Let me do it for you.
Pancham Gupta: Thank you so much.
Billy Keels: Absolutely. Billy Keels, as you already mentioned, is just a normal guy from Columbus, Ohio. Although Barcelona, Spain is home today, it took a while to get here. I won’t go through the entire story, but I can tell you that I come from a very blue-collar family. I watched both of my parents work two jobs, have to make some very difficult decisions as it related to finances, making decisions to buy X over Y, or pay this bill over that bill.
The one thing that they did, even though we lived in multiple states — we lived in three different states and probably seven or eight different houses by the time I was 12 — they always were really interested in making sure that we had access to great education, so much to the point that we were the kids in school that watched everybody else have brand new cars and all their nicest school clothes, and my parents were struggling.
I always, in the back of my mind, thought it’s great to be here. It also gave me an impetus to continue to work hard and become that A student, so I became that A student through high school, through college. I even went into the corporate world where I listened to exactly what they told me, Pancham. It was to make sure you go to school, get good grades, you get a good job, and then you start investing in the stock market. I did that.
Had a great opportunity right after college. I went to college in the southwest of Ohio, at a place called Miami University. Right after college, I was turned down twice by a really big consumer products company in Cincinnati, Ohio. They have two letters, P and G, in their name, if you know who they may be. I got turned down from them twice, and I was really dejected.
What I realized later was that rejection opened up doors. Right after college, I worked in a role where I was working and traveling throughout some 58 different countries. It just opened my mind to seeing so many new different things. Even in the back of my mind, I was still that A student; I’m a recovering perfectionist today. One of the things that I was doing was investing in the stock market, because that’s what I was told to do. 2000 happened, and I hit a bubble; 2008, I hit a second bubble with the great financial crisis. I decided I needed to do something else.
I started to take my own life into my hands by investing in a number of different real assets — real estate being one of them. Also, as you’ve already alluded to, after 26 years, no longer in the corporate world and continuing to go out, and really help other people, just like you, to open their eyes, and see that they can get their own lives in their own hands, and be able to make the impact that they want, and ultimately, have the freedom to choose the things that they want to do, when they want to do them, with whom they want to do them. That’s just a little bit about this guy from Columbus, Ohio.
By the way, I’ve been living in Europe for the last 20 years. I lived in France for about 3.5 years and Italy for about seven months, and in Spain for the last 15 years. Got married, as you know. Have two children. I’ve learned four different languages. I always tell people, “I came here on a one-year sabbatical,” and I tell them, “Be careful because one year can turn into 20 years, a marriage, two kids, and multiple languages.” That’s a little bit about me.
Pancham Gupta: There is so much to unpack there, Billy. I don’t even know where to start. I’ll start here: are you coming back to the US anytime soon for good now that you have quit your full-time career over there?
Billy Keels: Listen. My wife is from Spain. Our children were both born here. We’re extremely happy here. We love it here, and we built a lifestyle that would allow us to live wherever we want to live. Wherever the kids want to be, that’s usually where we’re going to be. In the short-term, we don’t have any plans to live in the US, but who knows. That could change in a couple months. We built the lifestyle. We have the design, so we can move wherever we want to move.
Pancham Gupta: That’s awesome, man. Let’s start there. You were born and brought up here in the US, spent half of your life in Europe, outside of the US – very similar to me. I was born and brought up in India, and then spent half of my life now here in the US. My question for you is — yeah, you went there for your corporate life — what got you into investing? I know you alluded to that, that you were in the stock market, recovering stock market bubbles, and you started to think outside, and look outside. When you started looking, what got you into real estate? What did you do?
Billy Keels: Yeah. The thing that actually got me into real estate was interesting. I was somebody that, when I grew up, I didn’t have anybody that I could really talk to about money. Basically, what I thought investing was, was having enough money in your bank account to get to the end of the month. That was savings in reality, but I thought that was investing. I got to a point where not only did I have enough money in my bank account at the end of the month, but I can then also start investing.
When the person came in from HR and said, “Hey. What do you want to do? Do you want to invest in these types of funds, those types of funds, to your 401(k)?” I checked that box. I then started investing, and I started feeling really proud of what I was doing, investing in those qualified funds and the 401(k). I also started having an IRA. What happened, as I mentioned before, the 2000 bubble hit. What I was told, and what I did, because I’m an A student, a recovering perfectionist, they tell you what to do, and that’s exactly what I was doing.
I just waited. It was a matter of, we’re going to do something that I’d never heard before, we’re going to do some dollar cost averaging. That meant, just put the same amount of money, and eventually, it’s going to come back, and that was right. About 5.5, six years later, that was true. In 2008, when the great financial crisis happened, I lost 33% of my value, of the portfolio.
What my parents always told me was, if something happens once, it’s shame on them; if it happens twice, shame on you. It was at that point that I tried to figure out that I’ve got to do something differently. I need to not have the same thing happen the third time, because just as an A student, you didn’t do that kind of stuff. That would be like failing an exam.
At that point in time, I’d come across the book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, which happened to a lot of people. I started reading all the series and a number of different books. I started listening to podcasts and watching videos. Quite honestly, I just then got back into the overall doing the corporate job. One of the things that happened to me, Pancham, as someone whose family is important to me – and I kept saying that family is important to me, and I just got married. By 15 months after we got married, we had our first child. I love being there. Although I was traveling – I was on the platinum clubs for the flight companies, and the platinum clubs for all the hotel companies, and all that kind of stuff; I was enjoying that – I wanted to be around for my family at the same time.
Our second child was born. I remember, our first child had turned three years old — this was in late 2012. I remember I’d read the book before, and I kept thinking about these things that I got distracted. In 2012, it was my son’s third birthday. It’s one of those things I’ll never forget. The night before I started getting it, not feeling really well about it, because I had to leave for Germany on a flight that morning. I had to go and wake my wife up with our one-year old. They’re still in bed. It was before six o’clock in the morning, because the flight, I think, was 7:45 AM, something like that. When I woke them up, and then I went to wake up our three-year-old, I remember giving him a hug and giving him a kiss on the forehead, and then I had to leave. I had to run and catch a flight. I just remember from our flat — we have an elevator on our flat — I took the flat down, and I just felt sick to my stomach. Man, hang on a second, it’s my son’s third birthday, and I’m traveling to this place for a business meeting with people that were great colleagues. That night, when we had a whole business meeting, I traveled, and all that stuff, my wife, kids, and in-laws, they were there with my son’s third birthday all having a good time and blowing out the candles. I was at this business meeting.
That’s really when things in my mind were just — what I said I was doing and what I was actually doing in my corporate job, they weren’t mixing. They weren’t aligned. I knew that was the moment in time that I had to actually start taking action to actually go out and start either buying real estate, because that’s what I was looking to solve the problem to have more control to not have the same 33% loss, which meant I would be able to spend more time with my family. I know it’s probably a long-winded answer, but that’s really what it took to get me to start to take action to start investing in real estate.
Pancham Gupta: Wow. That’s a great story there. Everyone has a moment of truth, and everyone fills that out. For you, that was missing your son’s third birthday. All right. Now, that happened, and here we are in 2022, 10 years later. You quit your job, and doing this full-time, and helping other people, and spreading the message, your podcast — great podcast, by the way. Let me ask you this. You quit your job, how did that come about? I know I quit my job, and a lot of people ask me that question. Everyone has a different answer. You are in tech — actually, talk about that. A lot of listeners here, they work in tech firms like Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, all these different companies. You are in a similar role; we’re in a similar role. You have now taken a leap. Walk us through that mindset struggle that you went through, or maybe you didn’t; I don’t know. Talk about that.
Billy Keels: Yeah. You just said something at the very beginning of the question; I’ll definitely talk about that. You’ve talked about the podcast, so listen. Everybody, by the way, Pancham is the most amazing person in the world, because he came and joined me on the Going Long Podcast with BillyKeels in episode number eight, which was like, “Oh my gosh.” It was one of those things, so definitely check out the story when you’re talking about moving from one country to the other and stuff like that. Episode eight — you were absolutely a rock star. I appreciate you. I cannot thank you enough for trusting me to join me on the podcast at that point in time, so thank you.
As someone who’s in the corporate world and working there, one of the things that I realized was — I was in a job; I was in a middle management role. I was working for a very large German software company, which is the market leader in enterprise resource planning. A lot of the different names that you’re talking about — Oracle, Facebook, Salesforce, and Workday, all these different companies — these are the people I was surrounded by every single day, and we’re competing with one another. I was in sales and sales leadership, doing that across Europe, Middle East, and Africa. I was also in the global marketing team for a while. The last seven years, I was actually working locally in the Spanish market and doing sales and leadership in Spanish and Catalan language. One of the things you go through, you’re in top talent programs, and you continue to win trips to top achievers, and you go to Hawaii, and you do all this stuff. That can be very addictive especially when you’re achieving at a high level.
When I was achieving at the high level, and I think, Pancham, we’ve even talked about this before, I really enjoyed the corporate game. I really, really enjoyed it. Fortunately, I was good at it. Got great results. Led teams to amazing results and things like that. I enjoyed the interactions with clients. One of the things that also happened in my life was, towards the last quarter of the fourth quarter of last year, my father wasn’t doing well. He had some pretty major health issues. Those health issues had me flying from Spain to the US. We went home for the summertime and were there in the summer, had a great time, and then in September, got a call, he wasn’t doing very well. We were there in October, and we were going through a whole process to figure out really what was happening with my dad. Ends up he has a pretty major issue with his heart. In November, they had a major surgery. I remember in that surgery, just being there, I saw my dad. He was connected to life support machines, and they were keeping him alive.
I was going through that, and I was just thinking to myself, “Wow, I really like my job.” I enjoy it, but it gives me the sense that there’s finality to the world. You know that conceptually, because you’re married with kids and stuff like that, but it really hit me in a way that I hadn’t thought about before. It was one of those things where just a bunch of different stars aligned, and it was the time to move on from corporate life. Was it unnerving? Was it a little bit challenging? Yeah, I guess, because when you’re leaving something that you’re really good at, that you like, and you’ve done successfully for a number of years — I was in the corporate world for 26 years — you definitely think about it. At the same time, I know that there’s a lot more impact that we’ll be able to make, a lot more people that we’ll be able to meet. Ultimately, what it comes down to is being able to now manage my time and do the things that I love to do.
I used to think I was super present all the time with my kids. I was physically present, but I was always checking the phone in the back pocket and looking to see if the emails were coming in, what did I have to action. When you’re at a swim meet, you’re looking over to the right, is my boss going to call me, and all of these things. Now, even though I’ve been out of it for 90 days or so, I still have some of those tendencies to want to check, and want to look, and how many emails are coming in, and none of that happens anymore. The world is actually moving much slower. I’m able to spend the quality time that I want to.
One of the things, and this is funny, I just enjoyed recently, Pancham. My kids were playing video games, and I wasn’t a big video game player. I enjoy my kids just absolutely beating me, just dominate me in these video games. It’s one of those things that I’m enjoying, that I’m learning to enjoy even more, not having the agenda, and just really enjoying the time, and being able to do that, which is one of those things. I’ll finish with this. One of the reasons that I was able to do that was because it took me nine years. This didn’t happen overnight. From the very first time I invested in my very first project, which was a very small duplex — I was living in Barcelona and investing in that back in the United States. I love to invest long distance. I live on one continent and invest in another.
After those nine years, and because I continued to learn, I continued to surround myself with people that knew a lot more than I did, and then ultimately, it was also able to find a way to say, “Hey, listen. This person is actually an expert.” The best return on my time is to continue to go working for my company, but then I’m going to take that active income that I was making and place it in passive investments. Over that nine-year period, it allowed me to have the strength to say, “Hey, listen. You know what? We’re at the end of the corporate career,” and I’m okay with that. That’s absolutely fine. It’s time to move on to the next thing. Like I said, maybe a little bit of a long-winded answer but just to paint the picture of what it took to get to that point over nine years, and taking action, and meeting people, building relationships, and ultimately, feeling comfortable with no longer being in the corporate world.
Pancham Gupta: No, that was not long-winded. I think you explained it really well. From missing the three-year-old’s birthday party to taking care of your dad — all great reasons. In this riff and raff of your everyday routine, you forget the things that are important. Now is the time that your kids need you the most actually. Spending time with them is more important, because after they’re grown, they’re not going to need you as much as they need you now. That’s when you will figure out that many people figure out that, “Oh man, those were the days.”
Billy Keels: Yeah. It’s really interesting you say that, Pancham. One of the reflections that I’ve had, because our kids are older than yours a bit — they’re now 10 and 12. One of the things that I was doing before to get more control over the financial aspects of my life to have the freedom was doing the investing and things like that. About a year or two years ago, I had a friend that was mentioning something to me, and it’s really stuck with me. I kept thinking now — my oldest is 12; my youngest is 10. Theoretically, I have six more summers with my oldest child. By the time they’re 18, they’re going to want to do like you and I did. You want to start hanging out with your friends and doing your own stuff — and eight more years with my youngest son. I want to continue to do the things that allow me to free up as much time as possible, and have the ability to say, “Hey, listen. I want to continue to do what I’m doing. I want to change what I’m doing and do something completely differently.”
A lot of that started by being able to invest passively with other people, also being able to actively invest, and then also being able to get the best out of the job that I was at during the day. Just thinking about the whole time of how many more summers you have with your children, that really helped me to start to change the paradigm and realize, “Okay, this is what I really want to be doing. This is how I want to be spending my time,” and taking action towards that.
Pancham Gupta: Yeah, so true, man. Anyone listening, definitely. If you’re on the verge of quitting, there you go, Billy gave you many, many strong reasons to take the leap. All right, man. Let’s talk about your long-distance investing. I know you’re pretty big on that. You’ve been living in Spain, investing in the US, maybe in Spain, too; I don’t know. Talk about that. How did you do that? You’re doing it outside of the country, but people who are living in New York and they want to invest outside, what suggestions would you have for them? Let’s start with, first, how did you go about it and then what suggestions would you give to people who are thinking about it?
Billy Keels: Yeah. I’ll just paint this as a background. I didn’t even know what this was. Once again, I didn’t grow up around money, so I didn’t understand the concept of even things like accredited investors. I know you talk about that a lot on your show and who are accredited investors or not. For those who don’t know, you can find out on one of the other episodes that Pancham was talking about. I didn’t understand that I was even an accredited investor. I was taking a lot of action. I wanted to buy in Barcelona. I read all the books. I listened to the podcast, but I didn’t have the sophistication enough to know, Pancham, that I was in a location, Barcelona, that is not a cash flow market. I was looking for cash flow, and this is an appreciation-based market.
I was really frustrated, because the books said I should be earning $200, $300, or €200, €300, in that case, per property, per door. Every time I penciled the numbers out, it was like, “Hang on, I got to pay €50? Hang on a second, I have to pay €200?” This doesn’t work like the books worked. I couldn’t find anything that met my criteria. I have really good friends that mentioned to me, after a couple of times, “Hey, listen, Billy, why don’t you invest back in the United States?” I was like, “What? Are you kidding me? Invest in the United States?” They’re like, “Yeah, but you’re American.” I’m like, “Yeah, but you’re missing the point. There’s an Atlantic Ocean between where I live and actually where the properties will be. That’s 8,000 kilometers, something like that.”
Anyway, after listening to them, it made a lot of sense. I actually started buying. I went through a process. I had to meet people. I didn’t know much about the lending aspect. I didn’t have a general contractor. I didn’t have an agent or any of that stuff. It started by meeting one person. Eventually, I bought my very first small duplex, and I bought that from here. The thing is, I had no criteria. The only thing I knew is that I wanted cash flow. Didn’t know about the location. Didn’t have a team. I just bought the thing. That’s what I did. That’s definitely not what I would recommend anyone to do.
When I had residents or tenants there, and they had problems, I didn’t have any systems in place. When a problem happened, then I had to figure out how to solve the problem. They were calling because something didn’t work. I didn’t have a way to do that other than speak to them on the mobile phone, and that didn’t work. We solved that problem by getting an answering service and things like that.
It went on like that for a while. Didn’t know how to surround myself with other people. Didn’t have the opportunity to listen to your podcast and learn about the things to do and not do. Also, I didn’t even know, Pancham, that there was a thing called passive investing. As I’m active, really managing these properties, getting a lot of experience, struggling, working the day job, up super early in the morning, working on my properties, and then all day at my day job, and then in the evenings until midnight – because there’s a six-hour time difference — I was doing all of these things.
Eventually, after I built a small multi-family property, and then bought a mobile home park, I found out about this thing called passive investing. I was like, “Oh my gosh, hang on a second. Do you mean I can give somebody else [$300,000, $400,000] and they will do the work, and I can keep going and doing my job?” I do my job where I get my best return on my time. They’re doing what they do best, because they’re going out buying much larger properties, things like that.
I did that, and that worked really well. I was like, “Okay, hang on a second. These are different tools. This one’s active. This one’s passive.” I started investing in ATM machines. I started investing in larger multi-family properties. I got in on a couple of development properties as a passive investor. It was like things were accelerating. That was great. I just had one problem. I kept getting hit with a lot of active income, because I was a high-wage earner. I figured out a way to solve that problem as well.
I tell you all that because I started out doing it one way. If I knew then what I know now, first of all, I would say, be very crystal clear on why you want to be able to do — what is the value that you’re looking to gain? What’s the benefit? Is it cash flow? Are you looking just for more time? Are you looking for a place to go and visit? After that, go to the location that is going to give you the best probability to get that goal. The most critical part as a long-distance investor — and you know this very, very well as well — is having an amazing team that has the right character, the right commitment, and they’re going to be able to follow through, and they understand the location where they are, and they understand how this aligns to what benefit that you’re looking for. Once you have the first three elements in place, then it makes it very easy to find a new opportunity. Whether that’s a 200-unit apartment building, it’s a bunch of ATM machines, it’s energy equipment, whatever the case may be, if it’s all aligned, then you set yourself up for the best probability of success.
That means you could continue to do what you do during the day and/or you can decide, “Hey, listen. I’ve made the right investments, and it’s giving me the freedom that I want.” You can decide to stay at your job, or leave your job, or do whatever you want to do. It’s the freedom of choice at the end of the day. That’s a little bit about the evolution that I took as a long-distance investor and also maybe sharing some insight as to ways that people can get to their goals much faster. The fact that they’re already listening here and investing the time with you, I’m sure that they’re going to get to their goals a lot faster. It’s not going to take them nine years like it took me.
Pancham Gupta: Yeah, that’s great. As a listener, if I’m listening to this, I’m getting overwhelmed. “Oh, I’m living in New York. How do I go about finding these people? If I want to be passive, how do I find these opportunities? If I want to be active, how do I find these properties?” What suggestion would you give them?
Billy Keels: Because they’re listening to you, Pancham, in your podcast, my recommendation, what I would do is I would reach out to you, because you make it very easy. You’re consistently here, and you’re providing value. You are an expert in what you do. You also have a very strong ecosystem of people. I know you have a giver’s heart. Someone who’s thinking about, “Hey, listen. I’ve been listening to the podcast for a while. I know Pancham. He’s doing and adding a lot of value. He’s consistently showing the results that he’s able to provide.” If you’re thinking about doing it passively, reach out. Talk to Pancham. I think, Pancham, you’d be open to speaking to people. Also, if you’re someone who wants to learn more about how to do it actively, I know that you can reach out to Pancham. I’m sure he would share the knowledge that he has with you so that you can move on that track.
The big thing is, you have to be prepared to take action on imperfect information. One of the things that I used to struggle with, Pancham, because I am a recovering perfectionist and also an A student, you’re waiting for all of the stoplights to turn green. If that happens, you will never leave your home. It is very important to reach out when you have that desire. Get your education, reach out, connect with people like Pancham. Afterwards, take action. Take action on imperfect information. Hopefully that answers your question.
Pancham Gupta: Yeah. Thanks. Yes, you’re right. Anyone listening, yeah, definitely, you can reach out to me, or Billy, who’s very kind to mention that they can reach out to me. The gist of the matter is to find people who are doing it. What Billy is really saying is, my company is doing it, or Billy is doing it, or people like us who are doing it — find people who are doing it and talk to them. There are a lot of people who are willing to give their time and help you get started. Obviously, Billy has things to do. I have things to do. You can expect someone to spend hours, and hours, and hours with you, but they can definitely guide you. As in the movie Matrix, they say they can show you the door, but it’s you who have to walk that path.
Billy Keels: That’s it.
Pancham Gupta: That’s what Billy is referring to. You have to take action. I have, over the years, so many people reach out. They want to quit their job, and Billy, do exactly what you have done. They are recovering perfectionists, or they are A students, it’s very, very hard to get all those lights green, and then leave the house. That’s what people wait for, and it’s very hard. I understand that feelin, because I went through that myself. When you have these golden handcuffs, it is very, very hard. You went through that. You had some of these events happen. Let’s say that event wouldn’t have happened. Maybe you were still going to continue what you were doing. It’s really hard. Let’s say nothing happens, none of these life-changing events happen to you, and then you have to quit when you have a great cushy, high-paying job, and you don’t have to do anything. It’s extremely hard.
People in your life would tell you don’t do that, and it’s very, very hard. Surround yourself with people who have the right mindset and people like Billy, who has done it from a different continent. Cool. If Billy can do it from Spain, all over from Europe, in the US, you can definitely do it, especially people who are engineers, who are making really high salaries, you have these savings. If you’re thinking of creating that lifestyle that Billy has created for himself, there is a way for sure.
Billy Keels: Panchcham, I was just going to add one thing. I heard this quote the other day. It’s one of these things that I’ve just been keeping, and now, I’m sharing with other people, because I’ve never even heard it. Are you familiar with the 40-70 principle that General Colin Powell used?
Pancham Gupta: No.
Billy Keels: It’s amazing. When he was making major decisions, he used the 40-70 principle. I’m applying this as well now. When you’re trying to make a relevant decision, sometimes, you can try to make sure that every single box is checked. You want to get 100%, and that can lead to analysis paralysis, as you know. One of his rules was, he used to say, when it was a relevant decision, he needed a minimum of 40% of the information and no more than 70% of the information in order to make the decision. 40% is the minimum that he needed, but then, if he went beyond 70%, it means that he was going to start moving into the analysis paralysis area. I’ve never heard that before, so I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this sounds like a perfect time to share.” For those of you that are like me, and Pancham, and recovering perfectionists, A students, and all that stuff, that’s something that you can use and apply in your life to help you make more decisions quicker and actually get used to making decisions on imperfect information.
Pancham Gupta: Yeah. That’s a great way — actually, that’s taking your analogy of red lights and green lights. If you have 10 lights, you really need four to be green to leave your house. At most, you need seven. If you have four that are green, you will leave your house, basically, to make that decision. That’s awesome. Billy, thank you for sharing that. I want to move to the next part of the show. Before I do that, one last question for you. Do you have a morning routine that you follow? If so, do you think that attributes to your success?
Billy Keels: It definitely is part of the successful habits that have been created. The routine that I follow is one that maybe a lot of people follow. It’s the SAVERS, Hal Elrod, The Miracle Morning. For me, it’s easy to remember, no matter how little time. Even when you’re working in a busy corporate career, you can always literally find five minutes to go through your silence, your affirmations, your visualization, your exercise, your reading, and your scribing. It’s just that simple. That’s the one that’s worked for me. It helps me to set the tone, because it means that I start every morning focusing on myself. If I can be the best version of myself, start out my day in the best possible way, then I have the ability to make a positive impact on others. That’s the one that I’ve used and has been successful for me.
Pancham Gupta: Awesome. Cool, man. We’ll be back after this message.
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Pancham Gupta: Billy, let’s move on to the second part of the show, which I call taking the leap, where I ask these four questions to every guest on my show. My first question for you is, when was the first time you invested outside of Wall Street?
Billy Keels: The very first time I invested outside of Wall Street was the very first duplex that I bought when I was in Barcelona, Spain. The duplex was in the United States. That was back in 2013.
Pancham Gupta: Where in the US?
Billy Keels: In New Jersey. I bought in New Jersey. I didn’t have any idea. I didn’t have any criteria. It was one of the things we were talking about before that I had no criteria. I just knew that I had, what I thought at the time, a lot of money in the bank. I didn’t want to lose 33% again in my portfolio. My ability, my ego, my whatever, would not have handled a third loss. I knew that I had to take action. The only thing that I thought about, Pancham, is I’m going to buy something in a place where if I have family members somewhat close, if things all go terribly, at least they can go bail me out. That was the only criteria that I had. I have the money and make sure that I have somebody that I could trust and family to be able to get there. It’s definitely not what I recommend you doing anymore, but that’s what it took to get me started.
Pancham Gupta: Yeah, great. My second question, did you have to overcome any fears when you bought that first duplex in New Jersey in 2013?
Billy Keels: Oh my gosh. You mean aside from the fact that there was 8,000 kilometers between where I was buying and where I was living in my very first property?
Pancham Gupta: Yeah, aside from that fact.
Billy Keels: Aside from the Atlantic Ocean, yes. The most obvious one was, I was afraid I was going to potentially lose all of my money. I didn’t really know how I was going to manage it, but I knew that I had shown in my life and in my career that I could solve problems. That was the biggest thing — the distance, which as someone who needed control, and was looking for control, and is a recovering perfectionist, was a big deal. Was able to overcome that. That’s actually turned into one of the biggest strengths now. Because I couldn’t focus on properties, I had to focus on process, not properties.
Pancham Gupta: Cool. My third question is, can you share with us one investment that has not gone as expected?
Billy Keels: Yes, I can share one investment. It was an investment that was purely speculation. It was based on ego, because I had a friend of mine who was a very, very wealthy business owner who made an introduction to someone, and they introduced this strategy. It was an investment in the stock market strategy that I had never heard of. Because I made the introduction, and they told me what the minimum was, I ended up investing the minimum, which, at the time, was $100,000. They made these amazing claims that they were going to be able to have these amazing returns. After the first two months, the returns were not even anywhere close to that. Probably less than six months out, I was out of that investment.
Fortunately, for me, I was able to recoup almost 100% of the initial capital that I placed into the investment. Fortunately, for me, I was out in time, because there was a bunch of litigation and some class action things that actually happened later on. That was a big, big lesson for me. The thing that I learned is, never invest in anything that would give me a negative — the most important metric that actually nobody even talks about, Pancham. People talk about IRR. We talk about NPV. I learned this metric, and it was really, really important. It’s never negative, because if it’s negative, I don’t do it. That is the ROS.
The ROS, if it’s ever negative, do not invest. It is your return on sleep. If it’s a negative ROS, do not do it. I learned so much from that. It was a lot of sleepless nights. I didn’t understand. I didn’t ask the questions that I knew I should have asked, because I was embarrassed, because I had a friend that invested. I just didn’t feel like I could ask the questions. Since then, I’ve realized that when you’re going to invest your time with people, invest the time, ask the questions, make sure that the team that’s in front of you, they can answer the questions. They may not be able to answer it at that moment, but they should get the answer to you and get it to you in a way that you understand so that you can make the best decision on the imperfect information. That was a big, big learning opportunity for me.
Pancham Gupta: Yeah. These are real-world universities or seminars.
Billy Keels: Yeah.
Pancham Gupta: All right. My last question for you, what is one piece of advice would you give to people who are thinking of investing in main street, that is outside of Wall Street?
Billy Keels: Yeah. It’s really three things. It’s to get the education that you need, connect with the people that have done the things that you want to do and/or are doing it, and then take action. It’s a really simple formula. Make sure that you get the answers that you need in the way that makes sense to you so that you can make the best decision possible on the information that you have.
Pancham Gupta: That sounds so simple. It is simple, but it’s very hard to execute.
Billy Keels: Yeah.
Pancham Gupta: Great. Thank you, Billy. You’ve added a ton of value. How can listeners reach you if they want to connect with you, they want to learn more about how you really invest outside of one continent into a different continent?
Billy Keels: Yeah. It’s fantastic to be able to share here – this conversation with you, Pancham. I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to share. There’s a couple of different ways. First and foremost, I think by the time this goes live, we can share the secret. There’ll be a new website, and people can contact us there. It’s firstgencp.com; you can go to firstgencp.com. You can see how we’re helping. Specifically, we have a focus on helping accredited investors, high-paid professionals – a lot of them are from the IT software space that I was in before, a number of people now that are doctors and lawyers, and even some people that are in professional sports organizations, which is fun. Helping them, specifically right now, with active income issues, which is great. Check us out at firstgencp.com.
I also love to connect with people on LinkedIn. You can connect with me at LinkedIn. I think I’m the only Billy Keels in Barcelona, Spain, so it should be pretty easy to find me there. If you could do me a favor, and just also send a personalized note, let me know that you heard me and Pancham have this conversation. It’ll just help us have the conversation even that much easier. Thank you so much, Pancham, for the opportunity to share a bit of my story with you and your entire audience, man. Thank you. I really appreciate it.
Pancham Gupta: I appreciate you for coming on. If there was no other reason, that one reason of just having one Billy Keels in Spain on LinkedIn is good enough to stay in Spain. All right, man, thank you for your time.
Billy Keels: Thank you.
Pancham Gupta: Thanks so much to Billy for adding so much value. If you are interested in doing long-distance investing, and you’ve never done it, and you’ve been thinking about it, definitely reach out to Billy. He’s definitely a resource who’s done it for many, many years, actually, multiple decades now. Thank you for listening. I appreciate you. If you have questions, email them to me at email@example.com. That’s firstname.lastname@example.org. This is Pancham signing off. Until next time, take care.
Thank you for listening to The Gold Collar Investor podcast. If you’ve loved what you’re heard and you want more of Pancham Gupta, visit us at www.thegoldcollarinvestor.com and follow us on Facebook at The Gold Collar Investor. The information on this podcast are opinions. As always, please consult your own financial team before investing.