001: Welcome to The Lifestyle Investor!


Imagine being able to earn passive income, long-term equity, and achieve financial freedom while gaining total freedom from your business or a job. That’s what Lifestyle Investing is all about.

Justin Donald has mastered the low-risk cash flow investment principles he shares with entrepreneurs around the world. These principles center on creating passive income and significant wealth while liberating yourself from a day-to-day job so you never run out of money. 

His innovative mindset principles and 10 commandments of Lifestyle Investing have released scores of entrepreneurs from the “golden handcuffs” that came with running life-consuming enterprises. 

This show focuses on showing today’s entrepreneurs and business executives how to think and invest to limit risk, maximize repeatable returns, and achieve retirement goals through his proven passive income cash flow strategies. 

Justin’s principles enable you to move from an “earned income” career to support your lifestyle with passive cash flow investments including real estate, operating companies, debt, equity, and franchises that give you the absolute freedom to live the life you truly desire.

Today, Ryan Levesque joins the podcast for a conversation with Justin about how he became a lifestyle investor, what you can expect from this show in the weeks to come, and an outline of Justin’s 10 commandments of investing. 

Key Takeaways

  • What a lifestyle investor really is – and why lifestyle investors have the freedom and ability to truly live life on their terms. 
  • Why anyone can become a lifestyle investor if they put the work in. 
  • The power of buying your time back – and how to pivot in life from being reactive to proactive. 
  • What Justin learned from his career in sales – and how he made his first investment.
  • How average rate of returns manipulate numbers to mislead investors. 


“You won't become a lifestyle investor overnight, but if you take one step at a time, your income from investments will eventually exceed your lifestyle income and that puts you in a place to do a lot of things.” – Justin Donald Click To Tweet


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Connect with Justin Donald


Ryan Levesque: Hi. This is Ryan Levesque here, three-time Inc. 5000 CEO and number one national best-selling author. I'm very excited to be introducing a very special guest here today who just so happens to be the host of this podcast of this show. This gentleman is a gentleman by the name of Justin Donald whom Entrepreneur Magazine has named the next Warren Buffett. And I'm excited for today's inaugural episode of this show and this podcast to introduce Justin and to talk a little bit about what to expect in this show. So, with that being said, without further delay, Justin, it's awesome to be here. Welcome to your show.


Justin Donald: Thanks, Ryan. I appreciate it. It's fun having you on.


Ryan Levesque: Listen, I'm so excited to have our conversation here today. We're going to be talking about this topic, which is the title of the show, The Lifestyle Investor Podcast. Before we go any further, you've got me intrigued, man. I've got to know what a lifestyle investor is exactly. What does that mean? And how did you, Justin, become a lifestyle investor yourself?


Justin Donald: Yeah. So, a lifestyle investor is basically someone that has a lifestyle that they can live and it's living life on their terms and it's from cash flow that they earn from investments. And so, the way I look at being a lifestyle investor to me is I don't have to work. I have cash flow that comes from my investments that covers all my living expenses and well beyond that. And so, I really can live the lifestyle that I want to live and I can do it on my terms. And so, instead of having to work, I get to work. I have the opportunity to work on projects I want to work on and I really get to stay inside of my zone of genius and inside of areas that I'm passionate about. So, really, that's the whole idea of lifestyle investing or becoming a lifestyle investor is that you don't have to be a slave to a job. You don't have to be a slave to a business. It's really putting life on your terms and living it that way.


Ryan Levesque: You know, I love so much about that. I love so much about the fact that it's cashflow-focused investing. So, effectively, you can live the lifestyle that you want to create for yourself and for your family. Now, my next question, Justin, is so if we know what a lifestyle investor is, is it realistic? Can anybody become a lifestyle investing? Can we talk a little bit about that?


Justin Donald: Yeah, sure. Really, anyone can. I mean, it involves some focus. It involves taking action, it involves choosing to educate yourself, but anyone that has the desire to learn how can learn. It's not a huge leap. It's not a huge jump. At one point in my life, I was not a lifestyle investor and I made a conscious decision that I wanted to do it just like many other people out there that I've worked with and coached over the years. So, there are a lot of different ways you can look at it. It’s for someone that maybe is working for the man or they have this job that they show up to and they feel kind of like a prisoner to that job and maybe not a whole lot of other options. Or maybe it's someone that owns their own business and at one point in time, it was really neat making the leap from being an employee to an entrepreneur but then that business began to own them and you can become a slave to the money you make or slave to the business responsibilities required to run it, especially as it scales and you may not have the infrastructure built-in in there yet. So, it covers a broad spectrum of people from different walks of life but that's at least a pretty good idea of who can do it and anyone can but those are kind of the walks of life that I see most often.


Ryan Levesque: You know, I'm super excited to dive into your personal story because I think it's going to be really inspiring for anyone listening to this right now to see what's possible because as I know, you'll talk about it in a little bit more detail. You aren't born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you weren't a trust fund baby, you went to college, you worked the job, and you've made some conscious, smart decisions to focus on this area of your life. And what you've been able to accomplish in a relatively short amount of time is nothing short of incredible. So, that's kind of the teaser. We're going to talk a little bit more about that in a minute. But before we do that, I want to know, I'm excited, I'm really excited for this brand new show, this brand new podcast, The Lifestyle Investor Podcast. You've got me intrigued. I'm curious, Justin. As a listener, what can I expect? You know, this is the inaugural episode. This is kind of where we set the stage. What can I expect in future episodes? What am I going to learn? What type of content am I going to be experiencing? Talk to me a little bit about what I can expect as a listener in this podcast and in the show.


Justin Donald: Well, that's a great question, Ryan, and really the show I'm excited about because there are a lot of different directions and avenues we're going to go in but it's going to be focused on lifestyle, lifestyle investing, having the right investments to support your lifestyle. It's going to be focused on people that have done that before, that maybe weren't there at one point in time and work their way to be there. It's going to focus on savvy investors that have unique investment styles that are a little more off the beaten path, less conventional but still proven. I'm going to talk a lot about my philosophies in general, what I look for, when I make an investment and how I can structure deals, how I can negotiate better terms, the filter that I use to evaluate deals and what makes the cut, what doesn't make the cut, when do I stop wasting time on something, and how fast into the process does that happen. One of the big things I'm excited to talk about and one of the most important things is mindset. I really do think that that is a fundamental skill that really just changes the game when people can wrap their mind around a different way of doing things. And it has just paid dividends to me, literally and figuratively, when it comes to just thinking about a different way to live, a different way to invest. 


And I really want it to be focused on lifestyle first meaning it is something to support the lifestyle that you want to live. And that may be involving more time spending it with your family, traveling the world, eating the foods that you want to eat, dining out the way that you want to dine out, having some of the toys or material things that are important to you. But most importantly, buying your time back. That is truly the single greatest thing is having the time that you desire to do the things that you want to do and have passion for doing. You know, having the time to be able to work out in a way that supports your body and supports your health and having the space to be able to think and read and journal and grow in general. So, you're moving and pivoting from being in a reactionary world to a more proactive world. So, there are a lot of things I'm looking forward to covering. I'll talk certainly about a lot of the investing that I do but that would be a good handful of them to start.


Ryan Levesque: Yeah, and I love that so much and I'm going to talk a little bit about my personal story in our relationship here a little bit later but I'll tease by saying this. What I've learned from you, from Justin, for anyone listening to this right now, I've been able to generate literally tens of thousands of dollars a month in monthly passive income, cash flow focused income, using the philosophies that Justin teaches, the specific investment strategies that Justin teaches, and I'm going to talk a little bit more about that in my story in just a minute because I think it'll be relatable for many people listening to this right now. But way before we get into my story, far more important, I want to hear a little bit more about your story. So, before we get into some of the mistakes people make and some of your core beliefs and sort of unconventional investment philosophies like tell us about like your childhood, like tell us the Justin Donald's story like how did you grow up? Like how did it all get started? And how did you kind of get into this thing in the first place?


Justin Donald: Yeah. Well, I feel really blessed, Ryan. I grew up with a great family. I'm very thankful every single day. I've got a great relationship with both of my parents and I just think the world of them. We grew up very working class. My dad worked a lot of hours. He was typically in some form of sales, whether it be selling cars or selling appliances and he worked hard. He worked a lot of hours. He provided for us but he was gone a lot. So, I learned a great work ethic. There's no doubt about that. I learned a tremendous work ethic from him but I also learned that I didn't want to work that hard in that many hours. I wanted there to be more boundaries around my work ethic. I want to work hard inside of the situations that I allow myself to work hard but I want to have a space where I'm not doing that and I can spend that time with my family. My mom has always been very relational. Just people love her. She's a great conversationalist, really learned how to develop deep relationships and quality relationships with people through her and that was just really a blessing. And I can tell you growing up, my parents made me get a job like right out of the gates. 


I mean, in seventh grade, I had my first job and I was supporting myself. I remember my parents said, “Hey, if you want money, then you need to work.” And so, I listened to them and it was great. I took a job that was a commission job, which sounds kind of crazy. I sold newspaper subscriptions door-to-door and I only got paid if I sold them but I ended up being pretty good at it and I ended up learning how to take this rejection and just kind of make myself numb to it and just kind of move on to the next person. But I saw that with great work ethic, like what my dad had, I was able to earn a tremendous amount of income even at a young age. And so, I remember pulling in some pretty good-sized paychecks in seventh and eighth grade. I did this through high school as well and it was super beneficial. And then I remember having the opportunity in college. I needed to pay for college. My parents told me they couldn't afford that and they'd love to help as best they can but really, it's on me. I need to do it. And so, I found this great job with Cutco and I sold the product as a sales representative. And it was another great opportunity to work hard and have results be based on effort and not just on hours. That was a huge eye-opener to me. 


I eventually moved up the ranks with them and got into management and leadership and learned how to work with and train people. I learned the leverage of people and the power of being able to magnify a team and personnel and getting your money to work for you. And so, there were so many different levers that I learned to pull and I was so appreciative for that. And it helped really pave more of an entrepreneurial path for me where I was able to get more out of the results from whatever I was doing than just the time spent. My time wasn't being measured. My output was being measured. And I applied that then with investing and with finances and it was huge. The same leverage and magnifying things the same way. It was just a game-changer for me, especially with many of the books that I read that were influential to me in those younger years as I was building a business.


Ryan Levesque: So, when you were early in your career, right, just fresh out of college working at Cutco, and you're working a job. You know, it was a job that you were able to get paid for your effort, not just your time. But take us back to the very first or one of the very first investments that you made, kind of like the first domino that led you down this path of lifestyle investor where you started making income independent of your job that came from a source that was generating passive, independent cash flow, month-after-month. Maybe take us back to that first investment or one of the first investments that comes to mind.


Justin Donald: Yeah. This is a great story because it really started paving the way that I would learn and how I would choose to learn, who I would choose to learn from. And so, I really wanted to get my money working for me. I was at a point where I had a big business and we are generating good income but it did require my time and I knew that my time being spent doing it, even though I might be earning more than if I was compensated on an hourly basis or on salary, I just knew that it wasn't sustainable the way that I wanted to live life. I didn't want to sustain that. I could do it while I was young but I needed to make some decisions. What I decided and at that point in time I had recently gotten married and I knew that my wife who was working as a teacher, a high school teacher, her schedule was just very demanding. And we almost had opposite schedules. So, when I worked hard and it was a busy season for me, she was off, and vice versa. And so, it really just led me to believe like I have to make some decisions financially that give her some freedom first. 


And so, the first investment that I really ever made was into a mobile home park and it sounds kind of crazy but I had a friend that was investing in mobile home parks. He was doing really well. I ended up going to a boot camp and learning a bunch about it and taking a real deep dive. I ended up having the person that put on the program and the fifth-largest owner, private owner of mobile home parks take me under his wing and really teach me the business. So, I had a great mentor. And I remember investing in my very first mobile home park and the income from that park almost covered my wife's income from being a teacher. And really, it was like the after-tax dollars. So, if you look at what she actually took home, not just what the salary was, we were really close. I mean, we were close enough where we knew she could step away and our life would not change and that was a really cool winning moment for us.


Ryan Levesque: You know, I think it's a moment that I think a lot of people have maybe dreamed of, someday maybe, thinking that what if I could actually replace my income with investment income coming in that isn't tied to my job that gave me the ability to say, "You know what, I don't want to do this anymore,” or, “I want to do something different,” or, “I want to do this but I'm putting some boundaries on it or putting some rules to it that I wasn't able to say were a thing before then.” I love that story so much and I want to talk a little bit more about that, and some of your clients that you've been able to make this sort of same story happen to you. I want to share a little bit about my story. But before we do that like I really want to start talking about some of the things that you do differently. Like when most people think of investing, the first thing that comes to their mind often is mobile home parks like that just isn't the first kind of idea that comes in people's minds. And so, maybe you could talk a little bit about some of the sort of conventional ways of investing that you think cause problems for people and some of the things that you do or you believe in that are different from the conventional wisdom that most people have heard or learned about in the course of their lifetime.


Justin Donald: Sure. I think most people learn to invest the way that Wall Street wants them to invest. There's enough education out there from Wall Street to say, “Hey, we want your money. Invest in the stock market. Invest in a 401(k).” You've got a lot of financial planners out there that it's kind of like set it and forget it. I don't know that that's necessarily the best way or I don't know that I'm fully on board with that being the one way to do it. I mean, to me, I think that there are a lot of safer ways. When I think about like a 401(k) or qualified plans, they could work. A lot of it's based on timing. How's the market at the time you retire? What if there's a huge crash? Like we've seen recently and even over the last few decades and you are retiring at that exact time. You lose half your money and it's going to take more time than you have to be able to get back to where you were. You know, that's really tough. It's illiquid. You're not earning cash flow off of it most likely. There are penalties to take it out. I mean, the list kind of goes on and on. Usually, you don't know what you're even investing in, and to me, there's just all these drags on the overall returns. 


So, you've got taxes to take into account. You've got fees. A lot of people don't realize the fees to manage 401(k)s are some of the highest fees that exist, period. Some people are paying 3% to 4%, just ongoing fees. The same thing with mutual funds. They're really high and we're talking with the compounding. I mean, you're talking about losing out on millions of dollars for most people and then you've got taxes. Most people also don't realize that in most of deferred type of plans, you still owe the taxes. So, whatever your big nest egg number is the government's going to get 33% to 40%, maybe even more of that number. That's a huge amount. And so, the number that people see isn't the real number that they're going to live on. And then there's the hope that you build enough of a nest egg that you can live off the interest of it but the reality is that's probably not going to happen and you're going to dig into the principle of the investment and eventually it's going to whittle down and you're not going to have much interest and you could spend through all of it. 


So, we don't know how long we're going to live. We don't know. There's just so many unknowns. To me, it's more of like a hope and pray strategy. Whereas the way I invest, I like to invest in an asset. I want a tangible asset that has value. I want that asset to produce cash flow immediately. I want to be able to live on that cash flow. I want the opportunity for the asset to appreciate. I want the opportunity to sell the asset if I want to sell it for profit. I want to be able to roll that money into something else. But more importantly than anything, the goal here is to really get the income coming in to exceed the expenses that it costs to live your life. And so, that's what I did. After I covered my wife’s expenses, I really worked hard at investing to get first to the bare minimum that it cost us to live our life. So, this wasn't our current lifestyle. This was just enough to cover the mortgage and car payments and groceries and utilities, just the bare minimum. And we did that by purchasing another mobile home park. And then we were then able to make our next investment cover even more than that so we more than exceeded our current lifestyle. And so, we were free at that point. And it was just a really exciting feeling. But we couldn't have done that in a traditional route. We couldn't have done that with a 401(k) at least this early and just the cash flow that we're getting and the appreciation we're getting is just so much greater than what it would be if we had done it the conventional way.


Ryan Levesque: There are so many things I love about that that I'll talk about is and I've learned this from you, that so much of what's put out there by mainstream media and what keeps people glued to the financial magazines and financial newspapers and financial websites is the up and down-ness of the public capital markets, of the stock market, basically. And a lot of the people who are out there pushing and teaching certain investment strategies that are really geared to kind of the mainstream, if you actually look behind the scenes to what they're doing, they're not doing what they teach and that's one of the things that initially attracted me to you and your unconventional approach. And so much of your philosophy is, number one, you are absolutely in integrity because everything that you talked about, everything that you've taught me, everything that you talked about in your books and the programs that you run, and the events that you've held that I've been part of are things that you first and foremost did yourself, like you're just teaching people, "Hey, this is what I've done.” 


And what most people I don't know will appreciate about you and I know this about you because we know each other is you're one of these people that reads, and I'm probably underselling you on this, something like 50 to 100 books a year on a given topic. Like you are always reading book after book. You were one of the most well-researched people that I know in all areas of your life. It doesn't matter what it is. You want to learn about air quality, you're going to read 50 books about air quality. You want to read about cash flow investing and learn about cash flow, you're going to read 50 books on that topic. So, you're so well-researched and well-read and well-studied on anything that you do but in this particular area better than anyone that I've ever met in my life. And I think your sort of natural ability and your natural style of just going so deep on a topic has allowed you to uncover these unconventional strategies that very few people know about, these approaches that, again, mainstream pundits and media are not pushing out their stuff that you're not going to read about in the Wall Street Journal that you're not going to read about on the financial websites online that requires sort of peeling away the layers of the onion. 


And you've distilled some of those philosophies down to what you call your 10 commandments, your 10 commandments of investing. And I love them so much because they're simultaneously counterintuitive like not what you might expect but then when you hear them, it's like it makes perfect sense. And I was wondering maybe if you could touch on a few of your commandments now and maybe talk a little bit about why they're important and why people should pay attention to sort of these philosophies and these ideas.


Justin Donald: Sure. Yeah. I mean, there are 10 of them that really what happened was I wanted to figure out why do I invest the way that I invest? And I just got to a point where I just didn't trust financial planners. I'm sure that there are plenty of great ones out there but I had some bad experiences and I just felt like people weren't practicing what they preach and that a lot of financial advisors want to sell high commission products that they're not even in themselves. So, I just had to get clear. You know, I had a situation where, basically, I got a return on one of my quarterly statements and it said that I had an 8% average rate of return, I'm like, “Oh, that's great.” And then I looked at the number, I'm like, "This is odd.” I should be making more money than this. And then I really ran the numbers and I figured out how much I put in and I was like, "Hold on a second. I actually have lost money. How is it possible that I could lose money when I have a positive return or rate of return?” And that's where I learned that the average rate of return is one of the greatest manipulations out there because it's not measuring real numbers, but it presents a number that people want to hear or makes them feel good or helps them think their investments in the different recommended qualified plans are going to work better than they actually are. 


And so, that was a huge eye-opener to me and really like I felt like I got punched in the gut because it had been years and it's like I've been putting money in here and making nothing on it. I could have been doing so many other things and that really began my crusade to like dig into books and learn what other investors are doing. What's Robert Kiyosaki doing? What's Tony Robbins doing? What's Warren Buffett doing? What are all these greats doing? And so, that really got me to start studying and got me to start figuring that, hey, if most people are taking the path that everyone talks about with conventional investing, well, most people aren't doing well. Most people aren't in good shape. I actually don't want to follow the herd. I want to do the opposite of the herd. And so, that's when I said, “All right. Well, let's get serious about investing. What are the things that I want? I want cash flow first.” Well, what's even more important than cash flow first? Well, actually, I want lifestyle. I care most that everything that I do, it supports my lifestyle and supports the life that I dream to live. 


I want to create this ideal life and there's no such thing as a perfect life but there's certainly an ideal life. And so, that was really, I was on a mission to do that, to just live this great lifestyle. And when I had a friend say, "Hey, Justin. What is it? What's your criteria?” And so, I decided to take a deep dive and this is years after I was investing like I had a few ideas of like what I really wanted, but when I analyzed everything, it became really clear. I've got 10 criteria that I use and these 10 criteria are what I make my decisions and investing on. And if I can satisfy all 10, well, then it's a slam dunk and if I can get nine, maybe I got to think a little bit harder, so on and so forth. And so, the 10 commandments that I have are my 10 criteria. And so, of course, I start commandment number one with lifestyle first that whatever the investment is, it needs to support my lifestyle. It can't take time away from my lifestyle unless it's less time involved than what I'm currently doing with work. In that case, it's an upgrade of time. So, I'm just always looking to improve my lifestyle. 


At one point in my life, I was willing to work a little bit harder and be involved in my investments so that I could get a better return. Now, I don't care as much about being involved in them and I'm okay getting a lesser return as long as I have good smart, qualified people around me that are running everything for me. And this is direct investments that I may own myself. This is investing passively in other vehicles that have professional management companies or professional operators that are running it. And so, that, to me, made a whole lot of sense, invest in a way that supports my lifestyle.


Ryan Levesque: So, lifestyle first is number one. Lifestyle first is number one. And I know people want to know all ten. I don't know if we'll get to all 10 today but give us two more. So, lifestyle first. Totally get that. So, not willing to make compromises in your lifestyle based on chasing extra return and finding the right balance for you based on where you're at. That's number one. What's number two?


Justin Donald: Number two is reduce the risk and I have this early because it's really important. Most people get dazzled by these high returns or these smooth talkers that want your investment dollars, but they don't realize that it's not as important to get a high return. It's more important to not lose money. Warren Buffett always says the number one rule of investing is don't lose money and the number two rule is don't forget rule number one. And so, to me, like I have to de-risk everything I do. My goal like if I lose money, I got to work twice as hard to make it back. That doesn't make any sense. So, I'd rather a lesser return but knowing I'm not going to lose money and quite frankly, what I really like to do is I like to create more of like an asymmetric risk-reward type of profile, where I can really cut the risk down and reduce it. But my return could be exponential. And so, if I can protect on the downside but I can increase the opportunity on the upside, that makes a very compelling investment for me, especially if I can then have several of those that kind of hedge my position.


Ryan Levesque: So, risk mitigation, I love that. One of the things I learned from you, we were having a conversation one day, and you just kind of drew it out on your whiteboard and you said, “Look, if you start with…” let's just keep an easy number. Let's say you start with $100 and you lose 50%. You're down to $50. How much do you need to make just to get back to breakeven? You've got to make a 100% return just to get back to where you started. Never mind actually earning anything on top of that. And so, I think when you see those numbers in black and white and you realize, gosh, and it goes back to the average rate of return conversation you had a moment ago, which is you might have an average rate of return of whatever but if you're losing money and making some money, your real rate of return can actually be a lot lower than that average rate of return and it all stems from that Warren Buffett rule, do not lose money. And I've learned that from you just looking at every possible way to mitigate the risk on any deal that you do no matter what type of investment it is. So, I love that. So, lifestyle first, number one. Mitigate risk, number two. And then what's number three?


Justin Donald: Number three is find invisible deals. And the way that I think about this is that there are a lot of investments out there that the mainstream is never going to know about. And there are opportunities to learn about them. There are groups that they can get involved in, where they can learn and get access to more deal flow, which is really what people want. But there's also all these deals in emerging markets or new technologies or in these specialized investor groups or even just negotiating directly with a company. So, maybe there's no deal at all but a lot of the time, I'll talk to a company and I'll basically share with them an idea that I have and an investment that I could make in them with some returns that they could pay me based on growth so it's not an out-of-pocket cost for them. And they say, "Oh, that actually makes a lot of sense.” And so, there are great ways to get deals that just most people don't think exist and the best deals, most people are never going to hear them. So, that one is a really fun one, emerging markets. 


Ryan Levesque: So, just to bring life to this, Justin, I think it's great to talk about this sort of big picture but if we were to kind of zoom in for a minute and just talk about one of these deals. So, again, not having time to talk about each of your 10 commandments, but just looking at lifestyle, first, just these three: lifestyle first, mitigating risk, and invisible deal, what's an example of a deal that you've invested in, in the last year or so just to make it somewhat recent, that kind of checked off those boxes? Just to kind of bring it to life for us because we're not talking about the stock market here. You gave us some of your early deals, buying mobile home parks, but what's one that's been a little bit more recent to kind of make this dimensionalize this for listeners and viewers? 


Justin Donald: Sure. Well, one of the big things, one of the big trends that's happening right now is we're seeing a lot of real estate and retail brands that are selling for pennies on the dollar. So, I could give several examples of industries that are hit hard, but these distressed assets are selling for way under market. And what a great opportunity to buy an asset. This could be we bought some former Fortune 50, Fortune 100 companies headquarters. We've invested in retail brands that are either in bankruptcy or pre-bankruptcy. And so, these not only are unbelievable deals but we're getting them for a price that is so low that literally the worst thing that could possibly happen could happen and we could still make our profit back. And so, I would call that major risk mitigation or reducing the risk. It's invisible because most people don't know about it. A lot of these are special investor groups or a lot of these are deals where literally, they find it, they put it under contract, they've got to raise the money in like 48 hours, and then it's done. You know, it never hits the market. It's off-market and you just have to know the right people to get access to those deals, but they're all over. 


And so, a lot of these, we're able to scale, get them, increase the value, some of them were scaling online for a lot of the retail brands that are going under. A lot of their real estate we're able to buy and then fix up and then lease to a lot stronger groups like government agencies or Fortune 50 companies. And so, these are just great opportunities where it creates lifestyle because you have other groups that are managing all of the aspects of running the business, professionals that this is what they do for a living and they operate. You've got your risk protected because you're buying it so cheap. And then there are totally invisible deals. And quite frankly, what it does is it leads me to the fourth principle, the fourth commandment, which to me is one of the most important ones and that's getting your principal back quickly. And so, whenever I make an investment, part of reducing the risk is finding a way to get that principal back as quickly as humanly possible because the moment that money is out of the deal, the risk is gone. And now it's all upside and it's all house money. In a lot of these deals, I'm getting the money back literally in a year or less or in two years or less. And so, there's just so many opportunities to structure deals differently than what most people even realize and collateralize these deals. 


So, for example, what that means is I have assets backing these real estate transactions or these retail brands that if anything goes wrong with the deal, I have assets that are worth 5, 10, 20 times the value of that actual asset. So, if anything goes wrong, I can get my money back. In fact, if anything goes wrong, I'll end up even better off.


Ryan Levesque: And I love that because it really just ties everything all together and when I'm kind of teed up and talking about these commandments, it's sort of like they're counterintuitive because nobody really talks about these things. But when you start to hear them, they all start to make sense. It's like this makes perfect sense and the only question sort of becomes, "Alright, now what?” It’s like, "Where do I go from here?” And before we talk about, I think a great next step for anyone listening to this right now, I want to take a moment to share a little bit about my story and how you and I got connected and kind of what led us to here today. Because one of the things I love about everything that you do is you're really great at taking what are otherwise complex subjects and breaking them down into simple language that's easy to understand, using metaphors, using analogies, kind of breaking it down to the basics and I just love that about you. When you and I first met, we met at a dads group that we're both part of. It's a great group called Front Row Dads, fantastic group, and we're sitting down, having lunch together, and just talking about family and being a better husband and being a better father. 


And kind of in the conversation I remember started going to, “Okay. Well, what do you do for a living?” And that's when you kind of started telling me about this idea of being a lifestyle investor and how you and your wife and your daughter are able to take so much time off and travel the world and like literally months at a time and said, “How do you do that?” Like how do you do that with your job? That's kind of what you explained to me everything, and I was immediately intrigued, but at the same time, a little bit skeptical like I have my healthy skeptic like who is this guy? Is he legit? Is he real? Is he just like making something up? Is this real? So, over the course of months and months, we got to know each other and had lunch multiple times, and many phone calls, and eventually started working together. And I asked if you sort of be my mentor, my teacher, and to kind of guide me down this path. And we're having a conversation, my wife and I set this five-year goal where we wanted to build passive income in our life independent of our main source of income. And my wife and I, we have two businesses that we run full-time. They're very successful businesses, multi-million dollar businesses, but they require a lot of our time like we're still working a lot of hours every single week. 


And so, as our kids are getting older and for anyone who's got kids like kids grew up before your eyes, right? And so, we said we want to be able to provide for our family in a way that doesn't take us away from our family at that time. So, we set this five-year target. Fast forward, Justin and I are now working together for about six months and I sent him a message and I say, what's incredible, I can't even believe that I'm writing this right now. We had hit over half of our five-year passive income cash flow investing goal in less than six months. Like our someday maybe goal, the goal that we had that we said, "Well, maybe we'll get there someday,” which we kind of both looked at each other and said, "Maybe,” in less than six months we had hit half of that goal. And it's not just hundreds of dollars a month. I'm talking tens of thousands of dollars a month in cash flow flowing into our bank account. My wife and I, we just had this conversation literally last night where we logged into the bank account and looked at the deposits coming in and how they were just adding all up, a few thousand dollars at a time and we just couldn't believe what we've been able to do using these strategies. 


And that's just my story. You know, it's a humble story. You've worked with clients that are doing much bigger things and that some clients that are early in their journey literally just getting started and I wanted to share that story for two reasons. Number one, for anyone listening to this right now to know like is this real? Is this worth listening to? Is this worth diving into deeper? I can speak from my perspective. Absolutely, yes. You know, Justin's my mentor in this space and I believe in what he teaches and does wholeheartedly so much so that when he invited me and asked me to be part of this inaugural episode, I dropped everything in my schedule and said, "Yes, it would be an honor to be able to help introduce Justin.” But number two, to inspire people for what's possible. And I know you've worked with other clients and we can talk about some of those other clients, but I'm curious on the flip side, I'll throw the question back to you. You're at a place in your life where you don't have to work, frankly, you don't have to be doing what you're doing right now. You do it because you love it. You do it because you get intrinsic enjoyment from it. 


But when I said, “Hey, Justin, can I hire you? Will you be my mentor in this space?” And you said yes, what made you say yes? Like what was it about the other side that makes an ideal client for you?


Justin Donald: Well, great question. And for me, I have a passion for people, and especially when I really enjoy them as a person, I'm just eager and excited to be able to share. And now there are things that I look for. You are a perfect fit for me because you're the type of person that takes action. You're the type of person that's eager to learn. There's no ego. You don't show up like you know everything. You're just really humble and you want to know more and you ask a lot of questions. You're very inquisitive and you just have this insatiable desire to like learn and to know everything. And so, that's what I look for and it was really neat with you, one of my favorite parts of like us partnering together is I saw the life that you wanted to live and I knew that it wasn't too far from where you were, and there was a bridge that just needed to gap that chasm, and I didn't think it was very hard to do. You may have thought it was really hard to do it. It may have looked like a really big bridge that needed to be built but to me, I just saw so many easy ways to do it because you're already working hard. You're making good income. And now you just have to repurpose and redirect it and put it in safe investments that produce cash flow. 


And so, it was really neat for you. I saw this guy that wants to spend more time with his family, wants to be able to travel more, wants to be able to do all these different things but you have grown your business and have done such a great job at it but you are in charge, right? Without you, the business doesn't run at least the same level, maybe not at all but you are the linchpin to the business. And so, if I can help create for you and with you this extra income so that you don't have to rely on working your time to equal income. The goal is to divorce your time from money and it's to have assets and money create income and not your time. Buy your time back and have freedom. And I just saw how cool it would be for you to be able to not be so tied to your business and what cool opportunities your family would experience with that especially being at the dads retreat that we were at. It was just perfect. I felt like our timing of meeting it was just serendipitous and we've really been able to foster a great friendship and a great coaching partnership, and it's been fun.


Ryan Levesque: It's been a lot of fun. And I think for a lot of people listening to this right now you kind of wait for these moments in life. You're looking for this sign from God or sign from above or from the universe or is the timing right. And if you're listening to this or watching this right now, what I'd say to you is consider this to be your sign right now like the thing that is giving you the inspiration, the spark, the kick in the butt, whatever it is, to begin taking action on this. And if you're the type of person that is inquisitive, you have a healthy dose of humility, knowing that you don't know everything that you're willing to try new things and explore new ideas, and you have a desire, first and foremost, to build a lifestyle-focused cash flow investing portfolio that brings in cash every single day, I'm super excited for this show and what's coming around the corner. But for everyone who's watching this right now, I know there's a huge opportunity to go deeper into what you teach and your investment commandments because we touched on four of them today. I know there are ten. You've left us, you've teased us with there are 10 more and that, of course, is your book. 


You got a brand new book. It's an amazing book, I've had a chance to read it. I'm a huge fan of it so I endorsed it wholeheartedly. There's so much wisdom in this book, so much tactical, practical information. Can you tell us a little bit about this book? And for anybody who's listening or watching this right now, for anyone who wants to get their hands on this book, what's the next step?


Justin Donald: Yeah. I'm so eager to have this book out in the world. I put a lot of time into it and I'm really proud of what the result is of it. I'm so glad that you've been able to read it and you've enjoyed it. Obviously, having your endorsement and foreword means the world to me. And really, it's cool to see just full circle how everything has kind of played out. There's an opportunity to get it for free on my website. All you pay for is the shipping and handling. So, if you go to JustinDonald.com/Book, there's an opportunity there to be able to purchase the book. So, again, it's JustinDonald.com/Book.


Ryan Levesque: I mean, it's one of these no brainers like books, in general, are a great investment but this is one of these books from experience that you're going to read cover to cover. You're going to get engaged in the stories. You're going to learn about the actual deals. So, Justin's talked at a high level on the types of deals that the types of investments that kind of fit in this lifestyle, investor sort of criteria, but Justin goes into detail on the actual investments themselves, the actual deals, how he found the deals, how we source the deals. You're going to learn all 10 of these commandments, and how they all fit together sort of in lockstep. So, it's one of these books that's incredibly tactical, incredibly practical. It's inspiring to hear stories, not Justin’s store, but you'll hear other stories as well from other people in the book. And the link to get access to it, again, just to reiterate what Justin already said is JustinDonald.com/Book. And the coolest thing is that you can get a free copy like Justin's going to give you a copy. All you got to do is pay a few bucks shipping and handling and Justin will ship it to you anywhere in the world for free. All you got to do is pay a few dollars shipping and handling. 


So, it's an amazing resource. I think it's a great next step for anyone listening to this right now who wants to go deeper, incredibly affordable. And with that being said, before we wrap things up, I know our time is limited and we've got to wrap here, but before we do so, Justin, are there any final words of wisdom or any parting advice that you'd love to leave people with before we wrap up our conversation here today?


Justin Donald: Sure. And the reality is I've worked with all different types of people in all different walks of life. I've worked with people that have been executives with companies and they're strapped for time but they make really good income. I've worked with people that haven't made great income but they have a goal of buying their time back. I've worked with people that have had large seven, eight-figure exits from their businesses and each one has been able to accomplish this. So, I know that it can be done that the big message, the parting message I want to leave with you is just take action. Just move forward. You're not going to become a lifestyle investor overnight but if you take one step at a time, you're going to get closer to that goal. And eventually, you'll be able to get your income from investments to exceed your lifestyle income and that puts you in a place where you get to do a lot of things. You have the privilege to do a lot of things. You don't have to work. You don't have to work for someone else. You don't have to work for yourself. You get to. You have the opportunity to. 


You have the privilege to and really, it comes from taking one step forward and just doing that each day getting a little bit better and just taking some form of action, whether it's gaining clarity on what it is that you want, what your ideal life looks like or whether it's reading a book on investing, or whether it's getting involved in an actual investment that meets the criterias here in my book. Whatever it is, just take a step forward and move in the direction that you want to be in and that you see your life.


Ryan Levesque: I love it. I couldn't have said it any better myself. And this has been a lot of fun. It's been inspiring. I'm excited. I'm excited for what's coming up around the corner. I can't wait to start listening. I can't wait to hear the guests that are going to be on this podcast coming up. If you haven't done so already, get your hands on a copy of Justin's book. I get nothing by saying this other than the gratification that this is going to be helping more people like it's helped myself. So, with that being said, this is the inaugural first episode of The Lifestyle Investor Podcast. Once again, my name is Ryan Levesque and I've been here today with the one, the only Mr. Justin Donald whom Entrepreneur Magazine has said is the next Warren Buffett. So, with that being said, have a great rest of your day, have a great rest of your week, and look forward to the next episode in the podcast. Take care.


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  1. […] TLI 001: A Conversation with Ryan Levesque […]