Interview with Jim Sheils
Build-to-Rent Strategies & Strong Family Bonds with Jim Sheils
Today’s guest, Jim Sheils, is known as the “Crazy Glue” for entrepreneurial families. His celebrated “Family Board Meeting” strategy has empowered thousands of business leaders globally to foster stronger bonds with their families.
But beyond that, Jim is also known for his real estate brilliance. Leveraging the “Build-to-Rent” strategy, he grew his real estate portfolio across 14 markets in Florida to a point where they raked in $185 million in sales in just one year.
In our discussion, Jim shares his approach and insights on nurturing strong family bonds without missing a beat in business and also pulls back the curtain on the mindset that drives his winning real estate strategies.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
✅ Strategies for deepening the bond with your spouse and children.
✅ Tactics to amplify your business productivity, sharpen your focus, and accelerate growth.
✅ The ‘Build-to-Rent’ blueprint that skyrocketed Jim’s real estate portfolio to a staggering $185 million in sales within a single year.
Featured on This Episode: Jim Sheils
✅ What he does: Jim Sheils is known as the “Crazy Glue” for entrepreneur families. His popular “Board Meeting” strategy and other simple frameworks are helping thousands of business leaders worldwide reconnect where it counts the most: at home. He’s the author of the Amazon best-selling book, “The Family Board Meeting,” and the owner/ founder of the family education company 18 Summers. They specialize in retreats, workshops, and private consulting for family-focused companies, entrepreneurs, and professionals looking to strengthen their family lives while still succeeding in business.
Jim is also a partner at Southern Impression Homes, a company that specializes in building rental portfolios for individual investors and institutional buyers (American Homes for Rent, Haven Realty, Crescent APL, Mynd ) They provide new construction, low-density properties (SFH, duplex and quads) in 14 high growth markets in Florida. Property management in place. Also, private fund offerings for accredited investors based around the highly lucrative Build-to-Rent niche.
💬 Words of wisdom: “You have to have times of complete and total unavailability for the people right in front of you. Because if you don’t – you’re with your beautiful daughter, and you take that text, that phone call, that email, well, you’re not there anymore. Your brain has left the station.” – Jim Sheils
Key Takeaways with Jim Sheils
- The legacy of the Family Board Meeting
- You only have 18 summers
- Putting work over family always backfires
- The ultimate investing strategy
- Embracing rhythms over habits
- You’ve got to disconnect to reconnect
- The power of a genuine apology
- How unplugging can save your relationships
- Keeping the romance alive
- Making $185 million of sales in 1 year
- The “Build-to-Rent” playbook
Jim Sheils on 3 Steps to Creating Deeper Connections with Your Family
Free Strategy Session
The Lifestyle Investor Insider
Jim Sheils Tweetables“We're not that good with turning on and off and multitasking, and that's why the times of complete and total unavailability are so important.” - Jim Sheils Click To Tweet “If I allow C or D players in my business, that will absolutely and totally and directly take away time from me and my family, and I'm not willing to do that anymore.” - Jim Sheils Click To Tweet
- Jim Sheils on LinkedIn | Instagram
- 18 Summers
- 18 Summers on Instagram | Facebook | YouTube
- 18 Summers Podcast
- Jim & Jamie Sheils’ Passive Income Playbook
- The Family Board Meeting: Is Business Success Hurting Your Family? by Jim Sheils
- The Family Board Meeting: You Have 18 Summers to Create Lasting Connection with Your Children by Jim Sheils
- Passive Income Playbook: Leverage Build-To-Rent Real Estate To Buy Back Your Time & Create A Legendary Family Life by Jim Sheils and Jamie Sheils
- Front Row Dads
- Legado Family
- Rich Christiansen
- Sumitomo Corporation
- David Osborn
- Jon Vroman
- Mike Koenigs
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Read the Full Transcript with Jim Sheils
Justin Donald: What’s up, Jim? So good to have you on the show.
Jim Sheils: Justin, Good to see you again. Good to be here.
Justin Donald: This is fun. Well, last time we got together, I was on your podcast and it’s fun having you on ours. We’ve, you know, for a while talked about doing a podcast swap and I’m just so excited to get time with you and for the world to learn all the cool stuff that you are up to.
Jim Sheils: Yeah. No, it’s good to be here. It’s definitely a long time coming. I’m glad we finally lined it up together.
Justin Donald: Yeah. Well, you have been on quite the journey here recently, and there are so many neat things that you’re doing, things that I’ve done. You know, we’ve been on a similar journey on many fronts, whether it be family values and activities and adventure, whether it be business, real estate, specifically, whether it be like writing a book and branding for a certain movement that we want to help inspire. And so, I think it’s important for me to start off this call just sharing the powerful positive impact that you’ve had on me and on our family because of a book, a small little book, a small little I would even call it like a mini book or like a…
Jim Sheils: A mini read. Yeah.
Justin Donald: Yeah. A mini read like, I mean, it was just powerful. It’s called the Family Board Meeting and I read this thing in one sitting and it forever revolutionized the way that I have shown up for my family, for the one-on-one time that my daughter and I get, the daddy-daughter time as we like to call it and designating it. Like, even in your book, you talked a lot about how it’s important to do that, at least on a monthly cadence. And for me, I just have one daughter. So, I was like, well, maybe it takes it to the next level if we do it on a monthly cadence. And so, that’s been something really special where she gets to pick the day. We get to do exactly what she wants within reason. And there’s time and space for quality questions, quality conversations, for real life to happen, for her to open up and share things with me that she otherwise wouldn’t share. And I know that for a fact that the quality of conversation and time we’re getting would not have happened without this framework so thank you. And I’d love for you to speak to that a little bit.
Jim Sheils: Yeah. I mean, well, thank you because you’re using it. And I mean, I just had a goal, as you know, and I had no plans to write a family book, nor was I even comfortable discussing my family life and some of the ways that the Family Board Meeting all came about. But I really did think, “Wow. This is having such an effect. What if this has stickability? What if people can grasp the concept and the few principles and really take action?” And you did that. So, that’s what makes it so rewarding to me and my wife, Jamie. And now, I mean, I guess, gosh, we’ve known each other probably almost a decade. I’ve seen a lot of growth. I remember seeing your last picture with the adventure in Europe, and I’m like, “That’s the little girl I first saw him post when he did his first daddy-daughter and gave me a shout-out.” I’m like, “Wow.” I mean, it goes so fast that 18 Summer’s principle really does. And I love to see people like you taking pride in the how. And we were talking about this before. And then when I talk about the how, it’s not real estate or the business you and I have to get to the financial. But how have you been along the way? How have you showed up for your family to reach that 7 to 8 figure, 8 to 9 figure like you and I have talked about? And I can just see you’re doing the how and what’s more priceless than that?
Justin Donald: Yeah. You know, it’s incredible. And I’d love to dive into the how a little more and I’d love to dive into your newest book, the 18 Summers, because it’s taking Family Board Meeting to a whole another level. You know, it’s just going deep. And this whole concept, I mean, this was a paradigm shift for me, Jim, in the fact that early on, as a new dad, you had said, “Hey, you only have 18 summers with your children.” And if you look at it that way, you get a greater appreciation for how important they are and how relevant they are. And then there’s a countdown, you know? So, for me, I’m like, I only have seven more left. That’s scary to think about. I mean, maybe eight, but I just to play it safe, like, let’s just say seven.
Jim Sheils: It’s just such a powerful, positive motivator, right? When you have that simple math, it’s the most valuable math equation a mentor ever taught me. And because that little 11-year-old girl, man, I mean, now that I know because I have a crazy big family now. So, we range from 2 to 20. So, I’ve gone through quite the gamut. But man, does it happen fast. And when you keep that math equation going, it helps you prioritize. And that’s what I really wanted to see people do was prioritize. And then when you prioritize and just drop a few principles around it, Justin, which I’m sure we’ll get into, it makes a huge difference. And that’s time that you’ll feel really good about. And again, that’s this whole 18 summers I had read a statistic that the average person spends almost 85% of all the quality time they ever have with their child by the end of the 18th summer. And when you look at it, it makes sense because at that 18th year, they’re going off to college or a career or the military, whatever it is. And so, that means that you got to do those first 18 right to get them coming back for more. And then I don’t think you only have 15% less time. You might have 20%, 25%, 30%, 35%, especially when you’re intentional and you put a few principles to work around it.
Justin Donald: Yeah, puts it into perspective how short that window is, where you have tremendous influence. I think we always have influence but the influence we have begins to compete the older they get with other people. And I want to have as much influence as I can. I want to have the relationship that gives me and my wife the top influence for her. And I hope I would imagine all parents do. And I think at some of these activities, some of these top-of-mind awareness type of concepts that really make it happen. And so, I’d love to get into that. And in fact, during our time today, I’d love to talk about real estate. You’ve been very successful with real estate. You’re kind of diving into a new niche or sector or segment of real estate that I’m excited to talk about, which is build-to-rent. And I want to talk about some of your past successes and failures. And I certainly want to get into the nuances of how to maximize these 18 summers that we have. And so, I’m excited for what we’re going to discover today. And I just want everyone to know for the content that you have created and for the frameworks that you’ve created, you’re highly recognized. I mean, you speak at YPO events and EO events, Harvard University. You and Jamie are very well-known and sought after, and I’m just impressed with each of you. And I love seeing, I mean, anytime you can have a married couple in business together, you know that there are probably some things that are working because it certainly complicates the marriage. So, nice job.
Jim Sheils: And part of our roles with that is what do we really desire to work on and create together and what should stay separate. So, there are certain parts of the family enterprise Jamie handles and then the 18 Summers, there’s a great overlap that is really an artwork together in the real estate. Although she has an awareness and a proficiency in our works, our portfolio on that, I like to keep that a little more separate so that this is where you really get clear on the goals you’re going for and who’s going to handle what. And that was a big part of keeping marriage healthy and strong and loving and romantic. And so, that’s been quite a navigation for sure.
Justin Donald: Most certainly. And I’d love to know. So, one of the things when I think of you, Jim, is you’re an adventurer. You love to travel. You love to create epic experiences with your family. And we got into a little bit of the how. I’d love to get into more of the how, especially around like you’ve done 4 to 6-week vacations with your family. You’ve been able to turn work off in creative ways or you’ve been able to create a schedule where it’s primarily family time with work, maybe before they wake up or after they go to bed. And I’d love to talk about that because one of the greatest experiences our family ever had was a year off traveling the world. 13 different countries, 12 or 13. I think it was 13. And it was just wonderful. And we spent extended time that summer, six or more weeks in Europe, and it was just wonderful.
Jim Sheils: Yeah. And I think the starting point of that, Justin, is the intention. You know, just getting around and having conversations with mutual friends of ours, we kind of say what’s possible because there used to be this old programming out there, you know, and I’ve been a real estate investor now for 24 years. I mean, I’m almost scared to say that I’m getting so old but there were some mentors out there that they had huge balance sheets but really dysfunctional family and relationship lives. And that scared me. I got to tell you, it really scared me because I thought, well, that could happen to me. And they had this goal of put your head down, do what you need to do, get back to your family in ten years, and they’ll understand. Well, I think that was really bad advice. And I think the cool thing is just getting to hear conversations like this, “Wait, Justin went away for a year? Wait, he takes six-week vacations? How does that line up?” And I think there’s just, first of all, the intention and just the knowing that it can be done differently, that now with the technology and the niches that you go into, there is a clear ability to be able to do these things. And that’s the first thing.
The second thing you have to know is, man, this is something no one likes to do but you got to take inventory. And I know you and I talked about this. When I was taking the next step into new initiatives we’re going into, you got to take inventory. Like, am I working with the right people? Am I really? You know, I’m a big believer in the uniqueability and the genius that we each have, which is different for all of us. Am I really working on my genius and my top abilities or am I trying to play up in something that I know I stink at and I should be letting go of? And then it’s also going to be, am I surrounding myself with the right people? And for business, although I have a pretty, I think, pretty friendly attitude overall, I do have a pretty hard line now of this one fact, Justin. If I allow C or D players in my business, that will absolutely and totally and directly take away time from me and my family and I’m not willing to do that anymore. And you don’t have to be raging or crazy, pushy, and strong. That can be a very gentle decision but it does decisions of finding better people to work with, letting go of old relationships or partnerships. And that’s been a big part of my growth, I’d say, especially over the last decade, but also literally starting with just that intention of saying, “Okay, how has Justin done that? Because he’s done that or hopefully Jim has taken that, that means I can,” because I can tell you there’s not some sort of super brain power here. You know, my uniqueabilities are small but I’ve recognized them and just having that intention I think is really an important starting point.
Justin Donald: Oh, 100%. And it’s not like you have to have some big, massive exit for that to happen. I mean, there’s a very small percentage of people in the world that have that happen to them. You and I never had a big exit. We just hit singles and doubles consistently. I think the key word here is consistently we did that and over time there’s a compounding effect to that. So, that right there is like such a big key and sometimes it’s just getting out of your comfort zone and doing something like we traveled for much longer than we ever had before. And we created a framework and a system that allowed us to do it. I know people that have a corporate gig and they figured out how to do it. I know other people that have a business that owns them. They don’t own the business and they still figured out how to do it. So, there are ways to do it and we can create those ways but I do think it’s important to be really intentional on how you do it. And I think just prioritizing the family. The default is going to be plugging work in the schedule. But how can we get intentional and proactive to put family time in the schedule first, or at least as much as we’re able to until a certain point?
But that also then begs the question of can you find a career, a vocation, a mission that is in alignment with your desires, your passions, that creates fulfillment, but also buys you time and flexibility. And I just did that one deal at a time. You just did that one deal at a time and it starts small. And maybe at the beginning, we’re only replacing the utility bills in passive income. And then maybe all of a sudden you’re covering a car payment, then maybe two, then maybe your mortgage, and it just grows from there. So, it’s not this big audacious thing that has to happen where you build a company huge and you have this massive exit and you get a windfall of money. I mean, that’s less than 1% of the world’s population that that happens to.
Jim Sheils: And certainly, it wasn’t my way, Justin. As you know, my mentor taught me you should be able to say your real estate niche in one sentence. So, what separated me from poverty into abundance was I learned how to find a house, fix it up, and either rent it or sell it. That was it. And we’re talking four units or less, simple residential. And a number of people many years into my career said, “Well, why haven’t you gone into commercial?” I said, “Well, I’ve now done like a thousand houses. I’m just starting to get good at it, you know? And there were some there were good. There were some that were bad. I survived ’08 by the skin of my teeth.” And that was a really big lesson. But like you said, it was singles and doubles. You know, we all want to build the Taj Mahal before we owned a duplex. And sometimes we got to go back to square one and I just said, “Wow, I’m on the inside track of this now.” So, I’m going to go with this because, for me, it wasn’t about the real estate. When I first went into my first real estate class, I’ll never forget, it was in Arizona, in Phoenix, and we had to write down our goals and I said, “I want to put real estate in place so I can get to the good stuff, the important things.”
That was it. It was that simple plan. And so, when you start it like that is, “I didn’t want to be in the boardroom every day barking commands at someone who was about for me.” And again, I think people they need to start with the duplex. They need to start with investing into that one syndication and then see how it goes. And then from there, they’re saying, “Well, the six-week vacation or Justin’s one year that seems too far away. Okay, here it is. Let’s put some rhythms in place.” And I think this is so key, Justin. That’s what the Family Board Meeting was about. People, they might be like, “I can’t step that far away from my business now.” Either, “Yeah, I have the money. I just can’t step away,” or, “Hey, I’m just starting. I definitely can’t step away.” Well, let’s get some rhythms in place. And rhythms are just powerful scheduling techniques, mechanisms that I have. And you don’t have to have 37 rhythms. I have about four or five in my family life that holds 80% of it together.
And if you can put these rhythms on the calendar and stick to them, and we’ll give a few examples, that busyness, it creates a space. It keeps, you know, I like rhythms. I don’t like the word habits as much anymore because you have a bad drinking habit, a bad smoking habit. Rhythm has more of a musical element, you know, keeping the beat. And if you’ll just set a few rhythms on your calendar and stick to them like you have now for several years on the Family Board Meeting, you can depend on that. You can lean on it and it creates that space to push all the other things out and you don’t lose track of your family and your highest values along the way.
Justin Donald: I love it. In fact, let’s get into some of those rhythms right now. And then after that, let’s backtrack and let’s really explore your real estate career and how you got started and kind of what you built and where you are today.
Jim Sheils: Okay. Let’s talk about two rhythms. One that, you know, and you’re familiar with both but let’s set the stage of three principles. These are like the foundation. We all know you lay that strong foundation, you got a better building that I use for a lot of my important things with my children and my wife. The first principle is the one-to-one principle like you hit on it, Justin. You got to separate the parts to strengthen the whole. This is the most overlooked thing I’ve ever seen in relationship-building therapy. One-to-one time puts the magnifying glass on that relationship in a positive way, clears away distractions, and really gives you the chance to get below the surface. You know, I come from a large Irish Catholic family, which means I have like 5,000 cousins, which is great, you know, big gathering. But you know, what really has gotten me underneath the surface with my wife, with each of my children, some of my closest friends was this one-to-one time. So, you got to be willing to put the one-to-one principle to work.
The second thing you have to be able to put to work is intermittent tech fasting. This is really, really important in today’s day and age. You got to be able to completely disconnect to reconnect. You have to have times of complete and total unavailability for the people right in front of you. Because if you don’t, you know, you’re with your beautiful daughter and you take that text, that phone call, that email, well, you’re not there anymore. Your brain has left the station. You’ve just shown that this text or this phone call is more important than you and it never brings you fully below the surface. So, you have to I’m not saying cut off technology, move to Survival Ranch in Montana, but have periods of time where you’re doing some intermittent tech fasting. You know, everyone knows from our health friends, intermittent fasting, you’re not giving up eating. You’re just saying, “I’m only going to eat between this time and this time,” and keep discipline to it. And the third principle, Justin, that we’ll build these two rhythms off of is say the unspoken. If there’s anything I’ve learned for a lot of entrepreneurs, we can be very prideful and pride can get in the way.
So, I could be a little shy because maybe it wasn’t how I was grown up or I’m just flat-out pigheaded. I don’t like to give an apology or a sincere compliment. It just didn’t come naturally. It’s not the way I was necessarily raised but what I found is when I get one-on-one and I have no technology in between us, doing some intermittent tech fasting, and I give the opportunity to say the unspoken to my wife, to my children, Justin, I can’t tell you the barriers that have broken down from a sincere apology, a genuine compliment. And these three things together are the foundation of two of my strongest principles, one being date night and one being the one that we got popular for was the Family Board Meeting.
Justin Donald: Yeah. And by the way, the Family Board Meeting kind of came about because of all the rhythms that you have in business where you’re like, “Hey, it’s really important to have this board meeting for work. What if we extrapolate this for the most important meeting that we have, which is family, and prioritizing that and having an awesome rhythm around it?” And I love that. And one of the criteria around that meeting is that it is technology-free that the phone goes in airplane mode. Ideally, you don’t use it but I do still like to capture pictures of moments, right?
Jim Sheils: Snap a picture. Yeah. Especially, all through the years.
Justin Donald: Yeah, that’s right. But not the whole time. And you know, put that thing away and let’s engage in real conversation. So, I love that. I’m forever grateful to you for that insight and helping me be a better father and helping me be more intentional with my time. And by the way, I’ve got a wife that her number one love language is quality time and a daughter who I’m very confident one of her two love languages is quality time. Therefore, it’s even more important for me to make sure that technology is away because you can be clocking some hours. And by the way, don’t look at it as clocking hours. And just to get this point out, it’s like you could be putting in a good amount of time and the moment you disengage and dive into technology, it’s like you are raised all the hours or minutes that you had previously put in based on how they may feel if they really have a priority of time, quality time, uninterrupted, connected time.
Jim Sheils: Yeah. Well, let me tell you a gut-wrenching story at my expense. So, Maggie just turned nine. When she was five years old, Justin, I came home and I turned off my phone for an hour and a half to 2 hours. I think it was our friend Shawn at Front Row Dads. He did the gun-safe thing. I said, “I’m going to start the gun-safe thing. Just leave it in my bag or in the car.” Well, I broke my own rule and I kept my phone in my pocket. And Maggie came out and said, “Daddy, can we go on the trampoline? We love our trampoline time”. Get on the trampoline. Just starting to jump. And what happens? That dreaded dzz-dzzt, dzz-dzzt. Now, I don’t even look at it yet, but you know your brain. Just that noise can make you go in seven different directions. So, I’m no longer on the trampoline. I pull out the phone, Justin, and it’s 5:30 now. Someone screwed up a closing that was supposed to finish that day. I mean, it was a simple little thing that I can’t believe this mistake happened. So, what happens to me? All of a sudden, there’s nothing I can do. Title company is closed. It’s going to wait until the next day now. There I am, going into scenarios. I’m swearing under my breath a little bit, and then I come to focus attention of where I actually was.
And standing in front of me is Maggie, this little five-year-old, and she’s got like the sad face and almost a quivered lip. And I look, I’m like, I’m thinking she got hurt and I’m like, “Sweetheart, what’s…?” And she goes, “Daddy, why are you so mad at me?” And so, that was such a lesson to me that we think we’re better at multitasking than we are. As entrepreneurs, we are sometimes hyper-focused and very into what we’re doing. So, here I am dealing with a closing issue and my daughter is seeing my expressions like that and she thinks I’m directing it towards her and I was like, “Holy cow, how many more times has this happened?” And I don’t want this to happen again. I’m ashamed to say it has happened more, but way less because we’re not that good, Justin. We’re not that good with turning on and off and multitasking and that’s why the times of complete and total unavailability are so important. And the way I do that complete and total unavailability with my wife, we have a weekly date night, same that time, same that channel, you know, every Tuesday, 5:30 to 8:30. It used to be every Wednesday but now with soccer for this season, we flip-flopped it. So, we know the babysitter’s lined up. No, I can’t do a podcast. I’m not doing a client call. None of that stuff’s going on. You know, we’re doing that.
So, we have weekly date night, same time, same every week, and then I have my family board meeting where each of my children have a day with me every quarter to reconnect, to do something fun on their terms, and to get into those deeper conversations. When you got to the business part and you said how I took business rhythms and put them to family, I did. And I remember going to some pretty influential groups and saying, “How many of you meet with your sales team and marketing team every quarter to go over projections?” This boom, boom, the hands go up, “Yeah, Yeah.” I said, “Okay. Well, how many of you meet with each of your children on a quarterly basis to reconnect with them and look ahead to your relationship?” You know, no hands go up. And again, I would have been in the same boat. So, it’s so important whatever we’re going to give to our top investors, our key clients or key team members in our business, why we wouldn’t at least give that same to our family?
Justin Donald: That’s powerful. And I love that perspective. I can’t even tell you how important that time is to my daughter. She doesn’t articulate it as much as my wife does, but she does enough in like body language or in presence. But my wife is very verbal. Like, if she’s not connecting or getting that time, there is this void, this lack of connection. And so, if that rhythm ever falls off, we feel it together. You know, we feel it in our relationship. And so, like you, we have a very strict in the books, like we actually stopped doing a date night and we do a date day. Technically, it’s a date morning. You know, we meet on Fridays and it’s every Friday, eight to noon, and we actually will go do a yoga class together or go do work out or go do a hike or a bike and then go grab some food and go walk around. And so, our goal not only is to do it when our energy’s fresh, but it’s also to be doing healthy activities while we do it. And that’s been powerful for us.
Jim Sheils: Yeah, that’s great. And I’m going to give you something. I’ll make sure I send it to you. We’ve formed date and it could be date day or date night with a question. So, here’s something Jamie and I have added. I don’t know if I’ve told you this yet, but we’ve added the power of questions because sometimes when we used to go on a date, you get wrapped into the mundane, like, “How is school today?” you know, “What errands do we have to run on Saturday?” and, “Nice weather we’re having,” you know, real romance relationship builders. So, what Jamie and I started to do was formulate like questions. We’d pull them from offline in top spots that we’d find for relationship building. And we actually formed a deck of cards. So, one card a week with a powerful question for each date. And for people that we teach this to for our date night classes, we said, “Look, imagine if you ask one powerful, deep question a week to your spouse, where will you be in a year, in two years, in three years?” You never stop dating. You learn new things about them. We’ve taught this to people who have been married 37 years. They’re like, “I never knew this. I never asked this.”
And what I found is deeper, more powerful questions spark a different level in the relationship. So, we always go with one or two questions that we want to learn about each other. We want to find some of them can be real lighthearted, like name the top three adventures we ever took, and the first one you would do again. Other ones might be, you know, “Hey, name a time that we were going through a rough time and you felt like I didn’t show up for you and what could I have done differently?” Now, that’s a tough one because you got to take your dukes and lower them down. And as entrepreneurs, we’re stubborn and we don’t really want to hear that but better questions for your date nights. You know, bring one or two of them along and it can really start to deepen the conversation.
Justin Donald: I love it. Well, what you and Rich Christiansen with Legado Family like you guys are…
Jim Sheils: I love Rich.
Justin Donald: Yeah, he’s great. You two have just opened up my world into just creating better quality family time and better quality interactions and more intentional focus like a proactive focus to make it important, to make it relevant. And so, I’m eternally grateful that it is just always fun to connect on this stuff because this is more important than all the other stuff. So, sometimes it doesn’t feel that way but in the long run, it is. And my wife is really good about saying, “Hey.” You know, I’m the guy that likes to say yes to everything and go do everything, go try everything, and she made a really good point where she said, “Every time you’re saying yes to something, you’re saying no to the family,” and that was a big aha to me where it’s like, “Okay. Yeah, I need to be saying yes to the family more. And if I miss out on some of this other stuff, that’s okay because I want to be investing in the family.” So, I love what you’re about, love what you’re doing. I’d love to talk about how you got to the point that you had time freedom. You know, I think for a period of time you did cool action adventure trips and extended time even before you fully had time freedom but you certainly have time freedom now and you do some epic stuff. So, like what was your real estate journey and how did you eventually buy your time back?
Jim Sheils: Yeah. Real estate started for me again with that simple goal of I want to get to the good stuff. So, I think I have to get real estate in place. There’s that saying, “Buy real estate and wait. Don’t wait to buy real estate.” And I was pretty committed in my early twenties. I’m going to start buying income-producing real estate. And so, my niche was in California. I would buy, fix, and resell HUD foreclosures and then I would buy, fix, and keep them. And so, really, my game, Justin, for the first nine years or 9 to 12 years was just bulk rehabs, bulk foreclosures. And that’s a slow progression. I remember the first day if I could do one house this year, that first year, one property, oh, my gosh. And the first offer got accepted. I remember hyperventilating in my kitchen. And that goes from one a year to three a year to one a month to three a month to ten a month. And so, it’s kind of like going to the gym where you can put a little more on. And I did really good in the bulk foreclosures. Now, in between that, 2007-2008 was a very hard time for me. I skirted the lines of bankruptcy. I was heavily invested in Florida. We lost 60% of value in about 40% of rents. So, even with plan in place, it was very tough.
And I think we get called to in tough times and if I have to look back at anything I’m most proud of, although it’s not like the money went to Vegas and was spent, I had family and friends invested with me and I made a decision that no matter what, I was going to keep them whole on their principal. And I did that. And it took a few years after ’08 but I paid back every dollar of that. And I can tell you what happened. In end of ’08, beginning of ’09, since I had protected all of my investors, the word spread. So, when all these great deals started coming out in ’09 and moving forward, I had plenty of people saying, “Go invest with him. He’ll take care of you even if it goes down.” And so, I had a pretty big checkbook of investors that would partner with me when there were, I mean, you remember incredible deals ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13, ’14. Now, when we got to ’15, Justin, it got to get a little screwy. Everyone wanted fixer-uppers and foreclosures. And so, my now building partner, we had swap deals back and forth. Actually, him and his father owned a large management company. They manage my portfolio. He came to me and he said, “Hey, what would you think about throwing in some development fees and instead of finding old fixer-uppers, we build our own properties?”
You know, here I am. This is the old dog learning new tricks. I mean, I was a rehab. That was my badge of honor. I don’t build new. And so, it was a slow start. But just like anything like I explained before, one house a year, then three a year, then one a month. Well, we did this first development of about $3 million development and it went okay at best. You know, lots of lessons, lot of things I wouldn’t do again. Lots of learning on the job, but we could see the scalability from instead of only working with old fixer-uppers and going with new construction, we could place properties in better areas. We could down headaches and turnover. We could have better resaleability and growth overall. And so, fast forward that nine years, that first year we did 3 million. Last year, we did 185 million in sales and we went from one market to 12 markets in Florida. And then part of our company was bought by a large Japanese group called Sumitomo. I’m sure you’ve heard of them. You know, they have lots of different conglomerates. Warren Buffett’s invested in one of the other ones. But that was the growth pattern. So, build to rent has been the best way for me, Justin, to buy back my time to get the best financial results. You know, along the way, that’s where I’ve made the most of our clients’ seven figures as well. So, it’s been the most solid model and one that I never thought I’d be going into.
Justin Donald: I love it. Well, a few things about this. I’ve got several people that I invest in that their track record is whether the deal went bad or the deal went wild, they made sure that their investors never lost money. And that to me is such a stand-up move that I’m going to show up and invest in those people all day, every day. I love that. I love that you do that. I love that that’s what your track record is. I think that’s important. We’ve got some people in my Lifestyle Investor Mastermind that are really big also in the build-to-rent space. And so, just for clarity’s sake, just so everyone understands what this is, you’ve got some people that are buying flips, you’ve got other people that are buying homes and they’re renting them out. But then there’s a whole another thing where you’re building communities, where the intention of the community is that it is a rental community. There are communities out there. In fact, because I have a company in the single-family home maintenance space and we’ve partnered with a lot of groups and I’ve got a lot of friends there, I mean, there are companies right now as we speak developing monster 500, 600 home communities that are 100% built to rent.
ICON here in Austin has a big development with Lennar and they’re building a huge community. And by the way, I’m not sure that full thing is built to rent. That may, you know, I’m just speaking in terms of like big, huge productions where either all or a lot of that community is going to be this built-to-rent model. And I’ve got a good friend, David Osborn, who has been on the podcast. You know David. He is very, I guess, eager, excited, optimistic about this space as well.
Jim Sheils: Yeah. No, it’s a great space. And, yeah, David’s an old friend through Family Board Meetings. Then we’ve actually done a little here in Florida together. And build-to-rent, there’s a reason why some of the biggest money guys are going into it and it takes a lot of the guesswork out. And the one thing of that, that does kind of separate what we decided to do, Justin, from the norm is we do whole communities. We also are a big believer in infill lots or spot lots. And I got to tell you why. A lot of the, so we’ve built for some of the bigger hedge funds or family offices, whole communities and they say, “We only want whole communities,” and that’s fine and our whole communities do great. But my old programming was always, you know, when you’re taught to find houses, find that house in an area with a mixture of homeowners and renters. And really that principle is held hard to me like, gosh, that just made sense. So, what we started to do was buy up infill lots in already established neighborhoods that had a lot of home ownership. So, for our subcontractors in our building, it’s like all the trades were going to the same area like it was one community.
So, you’d save on that but we were also getting the benefit of homeownership because I always like to be around other homeowners with my rental property because I thought it helped value and all that. Now, of course, with the higher end fully build-to-rent, they kind of insulate that to make it nice. But we have done probably more infill lots in large amounts than even whole communities, and we found that to be a really lucrative way for build-to-rent or any of our mutual build-to-rent friends listening to this. it’s something you want to stay open to because at first people were like, “Oh no, we want only the whole community or it’s too hard to manage or too hard to build.” And if you strategically buy your infill lots together, you can have the best of both worlds I think.
Justin Donald: Most certainly. Well, I’m eternally thankful to Jon Vroman in Front Row Dads because the first time you and I ever got extended time together was at that event, that very first event there. Actually, I think it was the second overall Front Row Dads event that they ever hosted, which is cool. And you were the featured speaker at that and I just think that that is so fun. And then you and I share Mike Koenigs together who’s a creative genius, yeah, who’s just, you know, he’s opened up the playbook for creativity and thinking outside the box and helping create a reality of all the things that are up in our mind but can actually give a creative formula to it. So, eternally thankful to you and them. I love what you have been able to build for your family, the business that you’ve been able to build to support the time freedom that you have, all the different ages of your kids, blended family. Like, all the things you’ve been through it, you have figured it out, you’ve cracked the code, and more importantly, you’re intentional about always getting better. And I just love that.
So, I’d love to make sure that people know about you, where to find you, and just a plug. Also, you’ve got another book coming out next year that is called The Passive Income Playbook. And I think it’d be cool to share a little bit about that. And then your book that is hitting the bestsellers now is 18 Summers. And so, I love that you appeal to the family side, but you appeal to the investment and passive income side. And there’s so much like part of why I want to have you on the show so bad is because we’re so aligned and I feel like people need to hear this message as many times as we can share it because they can experience this too.
Jim Sheils: Yeah, no. Thank you, Justin. So, the Passive Income Playbook could be coming out. It’s about how to leverage build-to-rent investments to buy back your time and have a legendary family life. That’s what we called about it because this niche is not that well known or understood yet. And it’s been what really moved the dial for me to get to that next level of real estate and that’s where I’ve seen it benefit our clients the most. But I also blend in the family part of that. And so, people know the legendary family life for me. All that means is all the things I dreamed of doing as a kid and we couldn’t, I still get to do. That’s it. That’s what a legendary family life looks and I want to do it with my family. So, people will be able to get that. It’s coming out very soon, so keep an eye out for that. The Family Board Meeting: 18 Summers, you can get that in Barnes & Noble’s or Amazon. Obviously, that’s kind of our signal book that really brings people in and we share values with and make good friends with like you. But that’s one of our pride and joy. So, if you are looking for a simple, easy book, that’s a great way to start. You learn more about our talks, workshops, and even family retreats. It’s definitely our pride work that the real estate has been able to provide for us.
Justin Donald: I love it. And anywhere else people can go to find out about you and what you’re doing in the real estate space also?
Jim Sheils: Yeah. If you go to JJPlaybook.com, you’re going to see that’s the simple story of me and my wife, kind of our principles into real estate. And if you want to learn about build-to-rent, you can do that there. You can also go to 18Summers.com. You’ll learn about our talks, workshops, family retreats in Costa Rica. It’s a great thing if you’re looking on the family side for that. And also, we have great guests on our podcast, 18 Summers, the family podcast. Justin’s been on and others. So, if you’re looking for a good side podcast to Lifestyle Investor, come on over and see us.
Justin Donald: I love it. Well, I appreciate your time and you sharing all this amazing information with us and helping us all be more intentional with our time and prioritize family the way it should be. I love ending every episode with a question that I like to ask our audience, and that question is this: What is one step that you can take today to move towards financial freedom, to move towards living a life that’s on your terms that you truly desire, not by default, but by design? And hopefully, there’s something that you can take from Jim today that helps you take that step. Thanks for tuning in and we’ll check you next week.