Behind every success story is a person who never gave up no matter the odds. Ryan Narus, the Cofounder of Archimedes Group, believes that finding something where you’ll have staying power will make things easier for you in the long run. In this episode, Ryan joins Jen Du Plessis to explain why pushing through hard times can yield great results. He also shares a different view on what it means to have financial freedom, and why it’s important to build your work around your life and not the other way around. Learn the power of waiting and enduring, and understand why good things come to those who wait.
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Staying Power: Pushing Forward When Everyone’s Stopping With Ryan Narus
This show is all about breaking through all kinds of things. It’s not just glass ceilings that are money, but anything that you’re hitting your head against and that you’ve broken through. Whether it’s weight loss, marriage or something in your business. You’ve had a long career and you decided that you want to become much more significant in what you’re doing and how you’re helping people and making an impact in the world. Welcome to our show. If this is the first time that you’re reading, thank you so much for joining us. I hope that you find that this episode is going to enlighten you to be able to move you forward in your business and your personal life.
I would like to introduce my guest, Ryan Narus. He is a mobile home real estate expert. I’m going to call it that. I’ve had Ryan on my other show, Mortgage Lending Mastery to talk about what he does with mobile home parks and how he works from a technical side. If you have any interest in that, you can certainly go over to Mortgage Lending Mastery and search for that episode with Ryan. What we’re going to talk about is Ryan’s transformation and breakthrough in his life and how that’s made an impact for him and for others that he’s working with. Ryan, welcome to this show instead of the other show.
Thanks for having me back. It’s fun and I’m honored to be here. Hopefully, we can help out a lot of people in the process.
Let’s get started from the very beginning. Ryan is 32 and he’s already a mega real estate investor with mobile home parks. There’s a story there that we want to know about. Let’s start with the fact that you went to college, you studied something and you’re not doing it. Why don’t you take it away and give us a little background on where you were before we go to where you are now?
I went to the Wake Forest University. I studied Psychology and Statistics because I wanted to get into sales. I had the wonderful timing of graduating undergrad in 2009, which happened to have been probably the worst year in a long time to go out and get a job. Immediately upon becoming an “adult,” it’s like Mike Tyson says, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” For me, I thought I had this cool sports marketing sales job and it turned out it was a total scam and it was a telemarketing thing. I went the entire year thinking I was going to be fine my senior year. All of a sudden, it’s July of 2009, I graduated and I have no job prospects and nothing. It was a stressful time. My old karate instructor said, “Why don’t you come and sell cars?” I said, “I am going to be a champ and not a victim. I’m going to go out and I’ll learn what I can.” Over a ridiculous four years, I learned about everything I probably could have selling cars, marketing, persuading, negotiating, operations, customer service, diffusing confrontational situations.Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. Click To Tweet
Through that process, I realized that I was meant to be a business owner. I could learn the skills necessary to do that. The only thing that was missing is I didn’t know business. I went back to Wake Forest and got my MBA. While I was getting my MBA, I started my mobile home park business. We’ve now been a part of twelve mobile home park transactions. I’ve got several under contract. We are rocking and rolling and growing. Let’s say Mike Tyson was right. I definitely got punched in the face several times. Anyone reading who has kids knows that if you have a child, you can do your best to make a plan. The truth is at some point, someone’s having a meltdown and you’re going to pivot.
As we were talking with my daughter-in-law, they have three. They get punched in the face all the time but they’re wonderful kids. In the course of being a car salesman, you also wrote a book about it, which I found was so interesting because you were able to use your Psychology degree to manifest something to give back to the world. Tell us about the book.
It’s called Car Deal Hacks. I fuse psychology with my experience selling cars so that you can get the best price and have the best experience. In other words, there are little psychological hacks that you can use to have a better time at the car dealership and get a better price. I made it free. You can pay me if you want to, but I set it up to be free. The reason why is because to me, I know that people can buy cars and not be pulling teeth. I would rather that information be shared with the world than to try to make every single penny possible. To me, if I can help people out, that’s way more important to me.
I know that when we spoke on the other show about the psychology of what you’re doing now, but how did you all of a sudden start working in mobile home parks? This would have been the breakthrough for you like, “I’m bored of doing cars,” or maybe “I was okay selling cars,” and this presented itself. Tell us how that manifested itself and how it showed up and then what you started doing to make it successful.
I utterly was depressed in Corporate America. I’ve worked for a big bank, a cruise line company, a car dealership, a telemarketing firm, and other Fortune 500 companies. It’s the same story every time. It’s exciting at first. This is the best way to put it. In four years of selling cars, my first year of selling cars was absolutely thrilling. I loved it. My second year of selling cars, I enjoyed it. My third year of selling cars, I hated it. My fourth year of selling cars was utter torture. What I realized is that’s the same life cycle of being in the wrong job.
The more jobs I’ve had and the more things I’ve tried out, I find that that life cycle turn is a lot faster. I realized if I was going be on my own business, I needed something with staying power. I started three other businesses and they didn’t go anywhere. It wasn’t until I found mobile home parks after asking myself, “Who am I and what’s important to me,” and looking at over 100 businesses asking the tough question of, “Does this have staying power?” If I grow to hate it, then I’m back to square one.
A lot of people that are reading are solopreneurs and entrepreneurs. If someone started a business and it failed and another business and it failed, I know that a lot of people wouldn’t keep moving forward. They would probably say, “I’m going to go back and I’m going to work for the man.” How did you overcome that? What pushed you and led you to believe that you could overcome that? What advice would you give for anyone who’s reading who’s encountering that or maybe is afraid to get started because they are concerned that they could encounter that? What advice do you give people to break through those various failures?
On my podcast, I have this thing called the 1% Rule which is, do you want to be 1% wealthy? Who doesn’t? What is a 1% wealthy person? In a capitalistic free market like we have, it’s someone who can offer the market 1% value. What does that mean? That means you’re 1% smart, you’re 1% hardworking, you’re 1%, good-looking, you’re 1% lucky. The truth of the matter is almost none of that that I could think of was inside my control. There’s always going to be someone smarter. There’s always going to be someone harder working. The one thing that is in my control is I can be 1% willing to do what others aren’t willing to do. One big thing that seemingly no one’s willing to do is not stop.
I’ll give you a good example. I’m on almost 970 days in a row on Duolingo. All my friends who have started Duolingo to learn a different language have stopped. To me, it’s like you could go and spend a bunch of money on Rosetta Stone or go to Spain for a month. It’s like, if you don’t stop, all you have to do is wait. I knew I could bet big on myself, not necessarily because I’m the smartest because I’m not, or the hardest working because I’m not, or the best looking because I’m wearing a hat because I’m bald.
I’m not 1% lucky. I am 1% patient and if I don’t stop and I don’t do anything stupid, eventually it will work out in my favor. That is by far and away the best advice I have for any entrepreneur in any realm because I can do the same for real estate.
If I’m talking to a younger entrepreneur, it’s that I’ve failed several times at several businesses and almost all venture capital people that I know want people who have failed multiple times and they won’t consider giving you money unless you have. The reason is because what they are looking for, if they’re backing you with their money or someone else’s money that they’re vouching for, they want to back the horse that will not stop. When the grass looks greener, they keep going forward. When it’s fourth and there are 30 seconds left on the clock, they’re in the huddle going, “Guys, we’ve got them right where we want them. We’re going to this game.” That’s the horse you want to back. If you aren’t 1% of anything else, be 1% patient and not willing to quit on yourself.One big thing that seemingly no one's willing to do is not to stop. Click To Tweet
I’ve always said that it’s lonely at the top because no one else is there. That’s why. It’s easy to get there because no one else tries. I’ve always felt that when everyone says, “How did you get so much done? How did you succeed?” It’s that I went that extra mile that everyone else did. There’s a great video called 212 Degrees. It’s about that one extra degree that makes all the difference in the world. It’s about water boiling. At 211 degrees, it’s very hot, but at 212 degrees, it boils. It’s that one degree of difference that, in your case, 1% makes a difference.
The other thing too is Jim Rohn. I don’t know the exact crazy phraseology for it but Jim Rohn had said that everyone is one more activity or one more task or one more day away from success and they stopped the day before. They stopped short. That’s like driving down the road and seeing a sign that says, “Success this way,” and you stop at the sign. You go, “I got to success.” No, it’s that way. Now you need to forge on. I love hearing that you’re talking about keep going, trying and testing, and you’re going to learn along the way. That’s what’s incredible. You’re going to be more patient and you stumbled upon a mobile home park investing, but how many breakthroughs did you have in that? How many tests did you have there that as soon as you started, you went to a class, you learned from some guru or something that you can invest in mobile home parks. It probably wasn’t as easy as you thought it was going to be.
Not at all. Let’s say there have been a lot of moments where I should have stopped, from my wife telling me, “We’re not investing our time or money doing that,” to my friends being like, “Trailer parks. Slum lord. It’s a slum lord.” In retrospect, I probably should have been a little more offended because I think the world of all my residents. There’s not much I wouldn’t go out of my way to make sure they’re safe and they live in a good environment. It’s quite the opposite of slum lord. Between friends and people in the industry now returning my calls and lots of people not returning my calls at first, to my first deal ever where I reached out to 40 banks and got 40 rejections. A deal that may end up trading for well over $1 million, what we bought it for. It’s an absolute home run of a deal from a lending standpoint and from an IRR standpoint and everything, 40 banks telling me no because I had no money.
My investors were out of state, which is understandable from a bank’s perspective. There are due diligence mistakes, losing tens of thousands of dollars, hiring the wrong contractor. There are many times having to take out full recourse debt. I literally have millions of dollars over my head in full recourse debt right now. Quitting my job and moving to Atlanta, even though my family was in Charlotte. Living in a mobile home park every other week for fourteen months. Having no health insurance and having a third of my money or whatever it was go to health insurance. There are many times and many little stupid things that absolutely should have made me quit. That’s why I think it is important to take time to ask yourself and be honest with yourself, what has staying power?
It doesn’t matter what you do. It doesn’t matter how much you think you love something. Your love and your passion for something will get tested sometimes on a daily basis. I could tell you about five things that tested my patience now. To quote Steve Jobs when they asked him in so many words, “After getting fired from the company that you created, why did you not stop? Are you a glutton for punishment?” His response to it in so many words was, “I loved it so much that I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.” It took me years find that. My background is I went to private school, then the Wake Forest University, a private university. Not that I was rich growing up. I was middle class. I hadn’t even set foot in a mobile home park until I was 28 years old.
If you were to ask me when I was a kid what I wanted to be when I grew up, I never would have guessed mobile home parks. The reason why I say that is you have to look at everything and don’t be too good for some opportunity because you might love it. Even if your own wife is like, “What are you thinking here?” You have to have the courage, no matter who your friends or family or whomever looks at you like you’re crazy. If you love it, that is exactly what you need because you have to find something that you’ll have staying power. You’ll find that it gets easier with time because most people quit.
When people quit, it’s easier to get there. You went through all these trials and trivial tribulations and I know that all of us are doing that, especially for thinking about making a transition out of a real job or transitioning out of a corporate environment or something like that where we’re becoming a solopreneur. Now we know we have all these struggles that we’re going to have to encounter that’s part of this, what’s on the other side of this? Now that you’ve broken through all of this, what is it that is giving you joy and fulfilling you on the other side?
First and foremost, it’s helping others. I wrote our first check for the partial college scholarship that we offer all of our residents. We finally wrote our first check and it was otherworldly amazing. Now that I have a little bit of money, it’s not a lot but enough that I can start giving back. It has been beyond giving my time, which I had to give my time from a charity standpoint or work out something where the property helps pay for it. This is the first time we have been paying for this out of our own pockets. Now that we have a little bit of money to do that is amazing.
Share with everybody what you’re doing because I know you have the kids in the mobile home park writing letters and stuff. Share a little bit about what you’re offering to everyone.
Anyone who lives in my community, if they want to go back to college or they want to send their child back to college, we have a very low bar for entry. As long as you live here, as long as I’m paying the college directly and I can work out something with the tuition department, do it. We’ve approved someone. This girl is going to be an engineer, which is exciting. We’ve approved another lady, a young girl. She is going to be a business major. We’ve got a bunch of other people who want to go back and there are several who want to go and take English classes because we have a lot of Latino residents who want to improve. We offer that but we do so much more.
We partner with PayLease and we allow people to build their credit while they pay rent. We do all sorts of other things. We’re talking with the company to start doing financial literacy courses for free. We’ve done free food giveaways, Zumba classes, we’ve paid off predatory loans. We’re a jack of all trades because what we want to do is find one charitable cause and get good at it. We’re throwing a bunch of against the wall and seeing what sticks. To answer your question a little more directly, it’s helping others. The light at the end of the tunnel that I’m now there, I’m now out of the tunnel, is to be able to take a month off when my son decides to be born at 32 weeks instead of full-term.Build a life that you can work around rather than a job in which your life has to be around. Click To Tweet
I spent half a month in the NICU and then the other half of the month at home almost wishing I was back in the NICU in case something happened. That time and that freedom where I don’t have to worry about a promotion or my job or this, that or the other thing, where I’m the boss and I make the rules and I work when I want to, how I want to. I have a life that I can work around rather than work, which my life has to be around. It’s one of those things where someone asked me, “What do you want?” Honestly, my answer to that was I want what I have because I knew this is what I wanted. Now that I have it, I want to be more grateful for what I have because it’s exactly what I want.
You know that my entire coaching program is lifestyle business mastery where we increase the awareness of what makes you happy and where your passion is. We build the business around it rather than having the business running you and you trying to squeeze your life in. You’ve mastered that. Any last thoughts here that you have? I appreciate you sharing this story because it is a lot of trials and tribulations and it took four years. This isn’t something that happens overnight. I wouldn’t say it’s a 26-year marathon, but it certainly isn’t a sprint. This is finding what you want to do and making sure that it benefits you in the way that you want it to benefit you.
Sometimes it’s not always about money. We want to make money, but maybe someone’s in a point in their life where they don’t have to make as much as they used to. It’s more about the fulfillment from the heart rather than the wallet. What do you want to leave everybody with who’s thinking about this? I don’t think you did, but what a lot of more senior people do is they are balancing the job and maybe leaving and trying to figure out what they want to go to. They’re struggling with that because as you know, a lot of real estate gurus say you can accomplish this with one hour a night working one hour, and they’re having a hard time finding that hour or two. What advice can you give to someone who’s thinking about making any type of transition to keep their eye on the ball?
It’s a hockey stick. You do an hour a day, once a day, no matter what or however you do it, it’s going to feel like you’re on a plateau. All of a sudden, it’s going to go like a hockey stick. As long as you have that mentality and you don’t stop, it will work out. I want to end with a quote from my favorite comedian Bill Burr. It gives a juxtaposition of you in Corporate America and middle management and you chasing your dreams but not having worked out yet. He says in so many words, “One of those two is on a futon with no money and no family and seemingly no nothing chasing his or her dream. On the other end of that spectrum, you have a beautiful home, a wife, kids and family, and you utterly hate everything. The guy in that king-size bed is dreaming about being that guy on the futon.”
That’s such a wonderful picture to paint because this is going to sound a little counterintuitive, but I have people in my mobile home parks that are financially free. You don’t need to have a lot of money to be financially free, to have time freedom. Money will make sure your bills are paid. If you want a Ferrari and stuff like that, it’s going to be a whole lot harder to be financially free. It’s like the movie Office Space where that one scene that’s hysterical where Peter is like, “If I had $1 million, what would I do? I would do absolutely nothing.” His neighbor is like, “My cousin does nothing and he’s flat broke.”
That’s a great line. The point there is that the trap that we all fall into or at least a lot of us middle-class folks who started off middle-class, we went to private school or even not. You go to university, rack up student loan debt, then you get stuck in this culture of you need to get promoted. You need to have more money. You need to keep up with the Joneses. It sounds utterly crazy for me to quit a well-paying, stable job at a big bank to literally go and move into a mobile home park to chase my dream and pay myself less than half of what I was making and have no benefits. I can’t tell you how much happier I was for having done that. The biggest, scariest part about all of this is the change and the risk you will take on.
I will tell you, you will quickly not miss the nicer car, nicer house, nicer things if you truly have that time with what matters to you like your family and a passionate job that gives you meaning and purpose. Whether that’s for someone else or for yourself, it doesn’t matter. You have something that absolutely warms your heart and has that staying power that I mentioned. That will give you so much more joy and happiness. I made a LinkedIn post. I would so much rather take $100,000 less per year but be there with my son when he’s born than the opposite. That’s how I would end it.
It’s simplify to multiply. It’s either simplifying to multiply what you earn if it’s money or simplify to multiply your time. That’s what it is too because this consumption is going to be consumption. If you want all these wonderful things, you’re going to have to work all this time. There are ways to work around that because I work with that. It is about simplification. My mom said it to me. One day she said, “You had such a great quality of life.” I said, “What does that mean?” To me, that meant like I was keeping up with the Joneses and I said, “I don’t want a quality of life. What I want is a life of quality.” There’s very big difference between that and simplifying to multiply all the other things in your life.
Thank you again for joining us, Ryan. It means a lot to me and I can’t wait to see you on some other podcasts. For those of you that are reading, I’m going to get Ryan on my daughter-in-law’s podcast called Rental Rookie. That’s a little plug for her. You want to hop on over and listen to Rental Rookie as well, have him share his story there and probably get into some nitty-gritty that he didn’t get into with the Mortgage Lending Mastery podcast as well. I want to say thank you so much for joining me again and for helping me share this message and your message about breakthroughs and the sustainability of in your definition of success, whatever that may be. Thank you for joining me.
I loved being here. Thanks for having me.
I want to say thank you all for reading. Please don’t forget, go and give us a great rating and give us a great review. We’d love to hear what your feedback is all about. If you are in a position where you are saying, “How can I move from success to significance?” This is the place to be to learn from people who have done it or in the process of doing it so that you’re not alone. We will catch you next time. Take care.
- Mortgage Lending Mastery
- Car Deal Hacks
- 212 Degrees – YouTube video
- Rental Rookie
About Ryan Narus
I am a double graduate of Wake Forest University with an undergrad in Psychology & Statistics and an MBA. I’m a self made real estate entrepreneur who owns and operates 10 Mobile Home Parks spanning ~1,245 units. But here’s the thing: I started with nothing. No money. No experience. No network. I was a 20 something with way more student loan debt than actual capital to invest in deals. I’m just a normal dude.
The only thing that makes me different is that I refused to quit. And I was willing to sacrifice, and take bold action. I found creative ways to make money while I scaled my business up. I was stuck in Corporate America. I escaped. And I want to help others too.
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