In this episode, you will discover how Jennie Brown went from owning multiple properties and then losing everything during a marriage breakdown and how she discovered her momentum wealth formula in property investment.
Brown will also reveal her background story on how she lived in houses that sported outback dunnies with redback spiders for company. But after years of hard work and knowledgeable property investments, she has turned in the toilet of horrors, for a beautiful Queensland farm, and a lifestyle that lets her enjoy every part of it.
An entrepreneur of all sorts, Brown has done everything from farming to undertaking a wedding business.
I’ve done a lot of things over the years, lots and lots of things. But predominantly, I think we’re here today to talk about property investing. So I have done a lot of property investing. I’m also a business owner. I have several businesses. We own a farm. We have a wedding business. And I also help people a lot with the mindset and also helping them with their money.
She describes the perfect lifestyle that she has created for herself.
I am really, really fortunate that I’m in a position to design my life however I want it to be. So in 60 seconds or less, I usually get up when I choose to. I usually, because we own a farm, checking on my animals, walk around. I might do a bit of meditation or something like that. Then I will look at some of my work for the day. I will enjoy lunch if I want to, talk to friends, whatever.
In the afternoon, I have a swim usually. We’ve got a pool. And a bit more work. And then in the evening, I get to enjoy whatever it is that presents itself. So I really don’t have a spectacular life but I have a very peaceful life and one that I’m very, very, very, very happy with.
Brown attributes her ideal lifestyle to the flexibility of property investing.
Well, property investing has been really, really good to us. And it’s actually one of the things that really helped me to get to the position where I am now. It’s one of the things that helped me and probably the predominant thing that helped me to design my own lifestyle and to look at what it is that I wanted.
I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to be caged. So I haven’t worked for someone per se like a job for years and years and years and years. And property investing gave me that flexibility to be able to travel, to be able to design my day, to be able to work on projects when I wanted to, to have the income when I needed it, to do what I wanted to do.
So these days, I have probably moved a little bit away from property investing because of my choices in the market and things like that. But I’m very, very grateful to it. And as a property investor, definitely gave me the foundation to have a life I have today.
Growing up in rural NSW, Brown revels in her wonderful childhood.
I was born and bred in a little country town in New South Wales called Parkes which is where the radio telescope is. And they say it’s known for the Elvis Festival. But I was a fair bit older in the Elvis Festival and went to Parkes. I was 4 years old when man went to the moon. So that gives you an idea. So, I spent the first 14 years of my life in Parkes. And it was a great place to grow up, great community, country town, and lots of friends, lots of things to do. It was great.
From a young age she was inspired by the tremendous work ethic of her father, who renovated properties from the ground up despite the barriers in his way.
I am really, really blessed to have grown up with a father who was into the property. And so for me, it was never – I see people come and learn about property and I see them, they have to really start from scratch and it’s a really interesting journey for me.
I was born into that almost. We were really, really, really poor, really, really, really poor. I can’t stress that enough just so you get it. We were really, really, really poor. And my father wanted to do something about that, being in the property so I find. So he was the one that actually went out and learned about the property.
And I was about 5 years old when he bought the first house that we moved into that he renovated. And that was my life as a child was going into these houses, living in them while he renovated them. And they weren’t cosmetic renovations. They were really serious renovations, leaking roofs. I moved halfway containers being on my bed and on the floor while we slept at night because of the rain dripping through the roof. And he would move walls. And we usually had the obligatory, I call it the obligatory backyard dunny, the toilet right up the back with the green tree frogs and the redback spiders.
And it was a bit cold in winter to run to that. And he’d bring the toilet inside eventually. But those houses, we would be there for two or three years because he did it around his work. And most of the time, he was a travelling salesman so he actually wasn’t even home during the week. He would go out on Monday, come around on Friday or Thursday night or something like that. And then he’d spend time with us and do a bit of reno and off he’d go again. So we lived in a state of disrepair for years.
Wow! So how many houses would you say you have moved into to do this renos with your father?
That’s a really great question. I have no idea. I’d have to add them all up.
It must have been a lot.
Yeah, there was. There was quite a few. We moved every two to three years when I was a kid on average.
Brown then learnt the multitude of property investing strategies that are available and how to use them.
So there would have been quite a few. And then as we grew up and I became a teenager, we moved to the coast in New South Wales, in Newcastle. And dad branched out into different types of strategies. So then he sort of started buying lots of flats and houses and renting them out and things like that.
So I wasn’t just exposed to the renovation which we lived through, we were also exposed to the design and the sale process and the buying process and then the different strategies. And so, by the time I was 20, I’d heard a lot of strategies and lived through a lot of them.
Wow! You’re living the reality of property investing.
You weren’t watching and learning from outside. You are actually living it.
Yeah. But for me, there was no – I just thought that’s what everybody did. It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I realized that we were very unique.
Despite this wealth of property knowledge, she set off for a different future - computers.
When I was 20, I’ve been overseas in America working as a volunteer youth worker. And I came home and I landed a job as a lecturer, would you believe, at a local college which is now the equivalent of a university. But back then, I called it a college. And I was teaching computers and things like that. My dad always said to me, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grow up and he said to me, “Go learn about computers, Jen because they’re the way of the future.” And my dad was wise and he’s finding a lot of ways and that was another. So I did. I went and learned about computers and I was one of the first students through this college in word processing and things like that.
And when I came back, the teacher that I’d had told the college to hire me to replace her because she was moving away. And because of that boost that my daddy had given me and whatever, I had gone and I just did a year of what was a basic secretarial almost but it involved computers and how to use them in the workplace. And so, I learned it in this college teaching for two years. That was my choice. I travelled after that. But I taught for two years how to use computer in business and those type of environments and also admin and that type of situation. I was 20 when I started that. And I came back as I said from the States. And my dad said to me, “You need to buy a house.” I was like, “OK. Well, I need to buy a house.” So I went and bought a house.
So he chose a few and we went and had a look and I chose one down the road from mom and dad and of course, it was a runner with the backyard dunny. And while I was working teaching at the local college, I renovated that property. Lived in it and renovated it. And thought it was normal.
It was normal. It’s like if your dad says, “Let’s do some more renovations.” Sure dad, I’ll do another one.
Yeah. What was really heavy is I chose the one that was closest to them. And so, I was about seven houses down. And so, my dad would say that I’m a person who would say, “Right, you know how to do it, do it yourself,” type of thing. But I’d ring him up because I was a slight little thing back then. I’m not so slight anymore. But holding a roller, a paint roller above your head is quite a hard work. And we knew how to paint and tile because we’re being brought up with all of that and told all of those as we were growing up.
So I’d ring him and I say, “Dad, I’m having trouble. The paint is drying too fast and I can’t roll the ceiling fast enough.” And he’d go, “Uh! I know your Danny come with the dog.” We had a red set and I met him. And so, he comes strutting down the street and he came in and he’d go, “Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh.” Trying to be free.
For Brown, her dad was the property renovation master, and he always made sure to teach her everything he knew.
And I’d be like, “OK, dad. Thanks. But the walls I had to do myself.” But yeah, he was really good like that. He taught us a lot of things. I mean I just thought that’s what you did and I didn’t even question it. I knew how to do all those things because we have been brought up with the men having taught how to do them.
Well, I mean that’s the thing. Once you’re being taught that stuff, it’s kind of like part of you and ingrained in you at that early age. It’s like whatever we teach our kids is what they’ll know for the rest of their lives. So you’re very fortunate in many ways to have those skills because a lot of people don’t get raised up in them unless they actually go out and become – and try to do apprentices. So at what stage was that – do you remember which year that was when you bought your first property?
Oh, that’s a really good question. It was in the mid-1980s. It was the 17% rates.
Wow! OK. That’s why I asked …
We tried to think it was normal.
Nothing is normal nowadays, is it?
And do you know I had a grant – I had a first time owner’s grant. And I actually got the first time owner’s grant and then I had to pay it back because I rented the house out. The deal was if you rented your house within a certain period of time because I renovated it and then I went as I said travelling and did different things and I rented that house out. And so I had to obviously, I told the government that that’s what I was doing and it was like, “OK. Well, that ends your first-time owner’s grant and you need to pay a little bit back.” So I went, “OK, whatever.”
And I just want to address that Tyrone, because I hear people today, young people, and they say, “The first time owner’s grant is being taken away from us.” Well, to me, it was a privilege. And it got taken away from me, just like with some grants as well, but I never felt I was entitled to that. It was just a bonus and it kind of helped as I rent. But I really think we need to be really careful that we don’t feel entitled to stuff. When you work for something and when you have what we call skin in the game, you really appreciate it and you understand the value of it.
I agree. I totally agree. And we shouldn’t be looking at entitlements because at the end of the day if you want to create wealth for yourself, you’ve got to do it yourself and not to rely on the government because that just hinders things out.
Yeah. That is absolutely true. I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve always found my way somehow because of the way we are. And just something else you said, something you highlighted for me which is actually a little bit of an aha for me which is interesting because I don’t get ahas about my property investing journey very often.
But you were saying that my dad that I lived the benefits of investing, and I’ve always encouraged people when I teach property or speak to people about property, to involve their children on the journey because children are our future. They’re the people who are going to lead us in the next 10 years, 20 years, whatever.
And in actual fact, I was the result of someone actually living what I tell people to do. And it’s a very good thing. It’s like anything. If you just grow up knowing how to ride a horse, you just know how to ride a horse.
But for me to get on a horse and ride, I need to really be peeled.
And so, for people who are looking to get into property or who are in property, I think it’s very, very important that you mentor and enable people to just think it’s normal to do that type of thing. And I think we’ve got a much better opportunity there.
The next step for Brown was to start working on a new project, after realising she had enough experience to take that next step.
I didn’t really realise I had the experience. And I just thought, you bought a house, you rent it out, whatever. So I went to Sydney and worked for a while. And then I got married. That house was great because we moved back into it for a while. But then I realised I could – we moved north and I started designing and selling project times. And when I said designing, I’m not a designer or an architect or anything like that. But one of the things my dad taught me was how to design a house and how to actually draw it. And so, I can draw a house two-scale with window schedules and electrical schedules and all that type of thing.
With this skill, she was easily able to succeed as a property designer and build on her other skills, such as cost evaluation. It was these skills that enabled her to get through some of the darkest parts of her property investing journey.
So I was designing and selling project homes and I had all this experience that I had learned that I didn’t even know was really valuable. And the great thing was I could talk to clients that were coming in and say, they wanted a little modification here or there, it was very easy for me to work out how to do that whether or not it was going to be costly and all the rest of it.
But the other good thing about it was I learned a lot about cost stuff. And during that time as well, I used the property that I already had and I would not recommend you do this, OK? Now, knowing what I know. But I used that first property and I actually built, designed and built and they weren't projected homes although we built them a project home. My marriage broke up too by the way amongst all of this. So I went right down to absolutely nothing like totally broke and out of the rear end.
But I built these – designed and built these two homes. And that was the start of me getting back out and on my feet again. I don’t have this story that’s all rosy. I actually lost everything. And did these two houses, almost lost them and then I sort of reassessed everything and went on and we’ll talk about that in a minute. But the knowledge that I got with those projects as times goes was part of what took me into the property investing journey in the future. And knowing how to cost and draw and all that type of thing was really invaluable.
Wow! It’s so exciting what you shared. I’m at the edge of my seat wanting to know more. But what I’m curious now then, you mentioned that you had your home. Did you build project homes on the same block of land or did you do it somewhere else? Is that what you were saying before?
Well, I had a house. OK. So yes, that’s what I said. I had a house. So I used the equity in that because I bought my first house for $28,000. And they gave me – it’s a whole other story how I did that. But anyway, I had a lot of equity in it because it just kept going up in value because of what we’ve done with it.
And so, I used the equity to build the other two homes. Now, what I’m saying is I would never recommend you do that. If you’re going to do that, you need to take out a separate loan so that nothing is cross-collateralised.
Cross-collateralisation is definitely risky play, as it gives the bank more control of your investment, at the benefit of you not spending any of your own money to purchase or renovate your next property.
Yes, that’s what I started to tell you. So, I would never recommend that you cross-collateralised. In fact, I’m adamantly against it. And to be honest, I don’t even know if I did cross-collateralised or whether I just increased my borrowing capacity on the first house and used that then to fund the second and third. But that’s basically what I did.
When my marriage broke up, as I said, I pretty much lost everything and I had to sell everything, so all of those homes went. And then I just had enough to start again, a very small amount to start again.
It seems that nothing worse could happen to Brown at this point - and yet, the lowest possible point on her investment journey was still yet to come.
So what happened after everything, I just sat back and – my marriage had been very, very volatile and I had to make some really serious life choices. And one of my choices was that I not only wanted to live but I wanted to live well. And so, I went out and bought a block of land, quite a large block of land and I built a home on it. Everyone said I was nuts. Why did I need such a big house?
But I taught music from that place so I held on two or three jobs. I just worked really, really, really hard. And I used that place as my stepping stone into the future. And I always have this goal that I will build this place and that eventually I would sell it and make money. And this is the property coming back in again. I knew that I could make money from property. I just had to work out how in this circumstance that I was with.
And there’s a really big gold nugget in it, Tyrone Shum, in that it doesn’t know what circumstances you’re in. If you go seeking the answer to get out of it, you will find it eventually. And the other gold nugget in there is these things don’t come – I grew up with this but it still wasn’t easy. I had to work. Like I was working like I said two or three jobs. I was teaching 50 pianist students a week. I was really, really pushing through.
From this position of struggle and sacrifice, Brown was able to turn everything around with property investing.
And I was struggling financially. My ex-husband went bankrupt and that obviously had some repercussions on me as well. And it was a really hard couple of years, really hard couple of years. But at the end of that, I sold that place for a really good profit which was my intention when I started.
And that then gave me a launching pad. I moved to Brisbane and I that gave me a launching pad into property investing in the Brisbane market. And a good launching pad because I had enough income. I didn’t have to worry about working. So I didn’t work. I knew I could survive for a number of years on what I had in the bank and that I could use that to go forward with.
Wow! That’s great. Mind if I ask what kind of amount did you have to be able to live like that, to be able to start like a launching pad into your property investing journey?
I couldn’t give you an exact amount but I know back then, we weren’t earning a lot annually like we do now. And I knew I had enough to last me 3 to 5 years if I was living like I had been and if I was really frugal, probably longer. But it also – I mean I had a really good sum of money to invest in a market that was not like the process we’re paying now obviously. But it was all relative.
From that launch pad, she dove into the Brisbane housing market and made a splash.
But on that, my first investment in Brisbane was a reno and I bought it and put a – what did I put on it? I think it was an 8-week contract and I got permission to renovate it while I was under contract. So I didn’t even pay for it. I did some reno.
But it wasn’t all sunshine and beach walks in Australia’s sunny state. Hard work followed Brown on her journey, especially in her first Brisbane investment.
This is what I mean - if you look for the solution, you can find it. So I renovated it from top to bottom. The place had been lived in by people who were drug addicts and so we had to clean up needles. They had their electricity cut off. So they have burned marks up the walls and on the carpet, candle wax from the candles that they’d been burning for light. And it was a mess. We absolutely and then I bought that and I sold it within the time that I owned it.
So I ended up actually having a 3-week loan with the bank because I renovated it, sold it while it was still under contract but had to obviously settle on it. So I had three weeks where I settled on it and then I settled on the sale to a young couple who bought it. And I walked away with that. At the time I was doing a contract job in Brisbane for 6 months just working with young people and I earned more money on that reno in 8 weeks than I could earn in I think it was like 8 months or 12 months of work.
So that was just another little, OK, well, I can do this. I can earn more money doing this than I can earn working. So why would I actually work? And that was the last job or project I ever undertook for an employer.
After that, Brown bought a block of land and began afresh with a new strategy.
Yeah. Well, after that, I started doing different strategies in Brisbane. I got an account with a real estate agent for three months. And every week we’d go out and he’d show me stuff and teach me in an area that I’d chosen as somewhere I wanted to invest, which is the Wynnum-Manly, Lota area on the southeast side of Brisbane.
And I ended up buying a block of land which was what’s called a split-a-box strategy. So it was three titles on one title. And I sold that and made again some money. I think I made like 120 grand. And all I did was get the house knocked down and separated the titles which cost about $150 each and then sold the blocks of land off. While we were doing that – by this time, I had met and married a wonderful man who is still my husband.
What a turnaround, from a struggling music teacher to a successful, and happily married, property investor, seems like Brown’s hard work definitely paid off.
I’ve been married for a long time now. But while we were doing that, we obviously – that one was mine, the subdivision – sorry, the split up. But while we were doing that, it was really funny because he lived in that area, he moved up there and I said to him, “Can you go for a drive and just have a look because I want to make sure or see what you think,” because he knew the area way better than me.
And so, he raised me up and he says, “Jen, I don’t understand it. This is a quarter block and you’re saying that it’s three blocks and that sort of thing.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. And anyway, we worked out that he was actually in the same street as the one I was going to buy but down at a different one that was this house.
Anyway – but he looked at it and went, “Well, I think we could do this one too.” Anyway, so we bought that one as well. And so I manage all the projects. And what that one was it’s a house on a corner and a block, a very big block that runs lengthwise parallel to the ocean and you could get ocean views from it.
And so, we thought, “Well, we’ll subdivide that off, the house on the corner off, and we’ll get two blocks and that’s to adjacent size. And we thought, “OK, that’s good.” And then we looked at the house next door which was hitting down the hill towards the water and it was a small house on the front of the block as well and it had a room on the back as well.
And we thought, “Well, if we can buy that, we can actually put two long blocks with views to the ocean and we’ve got two houses we can sell-off. And the house on the corner here’s the bonus, was two flats in one house. And we had to combine that back into a house as part of the conditions of the subdivision.
But while we were doing the subdivision, we could keep it rented as two flats. So we bought both. It took us a while to get the second block because the guy didn’t want to sell. But we knew that we would make money on it. And we made hundreds of thousands of dollars on that deal. And we put it through subdivision. And the quickest time now subdividing people had ever put through and yeah, we dropped past that often and looked at it and go, “We did that.” We bought two really nice houses on the blocks with beautiful bay views and we were happy.
And interestingly, the girl in the flat, one of the girls in one of the flats, her name is Mary and she became really interested in what we were doing and I ended up teaching her how to invest in property. And it was really wonderful because she was a young girl and she ended up buying her first house just after we sold the flat. So it was really exciting to watch her go and actually go buy her first property and get going on the journey as well.
How exciting! That story alone is exciting, everything that you shared. I’m going to have to delve into the strategy in another podcast episode we’ve got here because I think there’s going to be a lot that we need to share.
What I wanted to also find out from you as well with that particular subdivision and stuff like that, which suburb was that located in? Is that in Queensland?
That was Wynnum. Yeah, Wynnum in Brisbane. Yeah.
Oh, OK. Yeah, I’ve heard that suburb. It’s quite a nice suburb by the sounds of it, that’s by ocean views and everything. Obviously, things have changed a lot in the last what, 20 years? So that definitely would be …
Things have changed a lot.
And you know, that’s a really good point Tyrone, because you’ve got to invest to the market that you’re in. It’s quite a walk and much rarer to find but I was actually one of the first people that worked that strategy and I did really well out of it for quite some time.
Her a-ha moment isn’t one of stunning success or a lucky break, but realising her biggest mistake and how she could learn from it.
So it was a split a deal as well. And I’ve got a little cocky and a little greedy. And one of the things I know a lot about and have always had an unusual amount of knowledge about is reading property markets. And I knew we were going to head into the 2008 recession and I just thought I could sneak in another deal. And I attempted to do so and it didn’t work. And I ended up losing hundreds of thousands of dollars on it. And that was a really big wake-up for me because until then I had always made money. I had always crossed it. I had really no idea or the knowledge that I had until I started finding out that people were going to seminars and that I had knowledge that they didn’t and that it was valuable knowledge as well. And I really screwed this up and I just started teaching property.
It was kind of like – but I had a friend who was a property investor and he said to me one day, “Why are you so upset about?” And I’m like, “It has really put me in a bad position. It’s all right to say he’s making his money when you start teaching property or whatever and he said, “Jennie Brown, can I ask you a question?” I said yes. And he goes, “Have you ever lost money a deal before?” And I went, “No.” And he said, “That’s the problem. You’ve never lost money.” And you know, I probably learned more out of that deal than I learned out of any of my other deals. And I’ve done a lot of deals. Just to be more mindful of my guest to be not greedy. And I will say straight up front, I just said, “Oh, I could get another one in.” I got a bit cocky. I was an expert. I was making heaps of money and it was unusual to see someone make money and a woman as well. There was a whole heap of things in there and all the rest of it.
Despite her husband’s objections, she didn’t want to get out of the contract for moral reasons, putting herself at risk.
And my husband didn’t want me to do that deal. And he really had a strong gut feeling about it and he had numerous times said to me, “Get out of it.” And here’s the other thing too, I worked with integrity and I had signed a contract. And so, I didn’t want to get out of it because that went against my integrity. But in actual fact, not going – not attempting to find out if I could get out of it and I knew that – this was the other thing, I knew the person I bought it from and I knew their personal situation and now in a really bad situation. And I knew that if I did attempt to get out of that contract and I probably could have. They were cooling-off periods and all sorts of things I probably could have got out of the contract on. And even if I got out of it and paid to get out of the contract, it would have been away less than what I paid.
But I was so into this, I’ve signed a contract and I’ve got to hold my integrity and I’ve got to whatever that I actually lost side of the fact that I almost lost my integrity by not listening to my husband and getting out of that contract. So sometimes you’ve got to really weigh up the consequences of your actions. But the one thing I learned from that was to listen to me. He doesn’t very often put his foot down with me but he had put his foot down very hard on that one and I had – I know better. I know better because I know when he does all the investing and this is my thing and I do this all the time. And I’ve learned that his intuition when he puts his foot down and it probably happened three times in our married life, I listen because I didn’t listen that one so yeah.
So the ahas out of that just keep going like be careful. When you have knowledge about the property market and you know they’re going to crash, you need to be very careful about that and it probably sent me the other way and be way more cautious than I used to be about that type of thing. But I’m also a lot older and I probably have less time to make it back. So I’m more conscious of the risks. I’m more conscious of when I’m speaking to people and teaching them to teach them to be risk-averse and how to be risk-averse. That they will put us into a lot of financial asterisks and because of the lack of money also, the loan on it was huge. I learned that that is a very bad thing and I already knew that. We didn’t carry a lot of debt. But the debt on that was really hurting us and as I said, I ended up selling the blocks but it hurt us financially. So, that was probably my big ahas out of that one.
Now Brown is most excited by the opportunities presented all around Australia; especially those for women in sectors that are usually male-dominated.
I just think we live in a country where we have a huge amount of opportunity. And I’m excited about that. I’m also very wary. I think lots of things are happening that we need to be very careful about. There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world and in Australia that I think will actually take away our opportunity.
And one of the things I really stand up against that type of thing and I’m a woman and I had to really battle some of the male dominance in the building industry, in the investing industry. It’s unusual for women to come through it probably in the way I did. And particularly in my age, there’s a few of us that did that and we certainly were standouts because of the male dominance in that. I fought for that. And it’s really important to me now to fight for that for the future generations and to make sure that – because I don’t think future generations realized what’s at stake and how much, particularly women, how much we could lose if we do go into some of the areas that our country is heading.
And I think there’s huge opportunity to actually stand up and forge the way ahead for people coming behind us. And that excites me. It also scares me a bit. But I think we have a responsibility to make sure that we leave behind something that’s good and beneficial. And I am particularly passionate about making sure that women and children are taken care of and what that means. The other thing I guess for me that I’m excited about is I’m in a position now where I can – it’s funny I say I’m in a position now but I’ve always been in a position to instigate and be a changed person, someone who facilitates change. And that’s really exciting too. It comes with great responsibility but it’s really quite awesome.
So I think that’s a big opportunity but it’s also again, quite an interesting one. Tyrone Shum, can I just say, I’m a farmer, which I was talking about. I’m just watching a baby alpaca walk up the hill to me.
Oh, that’s so cute.
I know. It’s so cutie. He’s just coming up to – he’s like about 5 minutes away from me, tugs at my feet. And it might not be anybody else’s thing but he’s so sweet. He just came up to my feet. He just walked right past me and looked at me and going OK.
What are you doing?
Yeah, what are you doing? But this is one of the things that property has helped to give me is the ability to live like this and to enjoy that peace and serenity and have these things around me.
Yeah. And I’m so glad that you can share that with us, to the listeners as well because it’s something for them to be inspired by and for them to actually see if that’s the lifestyle that they want and to use the property to help them to achieve that.
Jennie Brown On Habits of Highly Effective Property Investors
For Brown, ignorance was bliss in property investing - the more you know, the more you can fear.
Probably not because I didn’t know that something should hold me back. But I would say that probably, the more knowledge I got in some ways, the more it probably made me hold back a bit or just be more careful. I don’t even know how to phrase it, more risk-averse. So I was more aware of the risks.
In some ways, I think not having any fears or whatever is good because you don’t really – you don’t know and you just go and do it. But I think so many people do that and not get educated about the property and really, really hurt themselves financially, emotionally, particularly hurt their families or whatever. So it’s kind of a bit of tweaks in between. But for me initially, I really did not know.
From this initial ignorance, she discovered that mindset is the next biggest killer of people’s property investment dreams.
And the other thing is after teaching property, I went and taught mindset because I realized that learning about the property was all well and good but people would come to my seminars and they do nothing. But when I started to teach mindset, they were more likely to do something because the property is all about mindset. It’s not about the strategy. The strategies, I could teach you the strategies and you would know them but it’s up to you whether you do something about it, and that’s the mindset. And that’s what people need to actually – to delve into.
But one of the things I teach and one of the things I learned really early on is that people rarely change unless there’s pain. And it’s really sad that most of us wait until there’s crisis point or pain point to actually really examine our life and change. We get very apathetic. We get very, “Oh, this is how it is.” Or we’re taught that this is how it is by society and we don’t question it. We don’t question enough.
And there’s always a tipping point where the pain of being where you are becomes too great and then you move into something else. And I think that that is probably the thing I’ve learned the most about my life experience and my mindset is not to wait until that crises come along and tip it over. But having no fear is good and it’s important not to have fear. One of the ways to have no fear is to get an education. But education can also put you into fear. So you’ve got to be very careful where you go with it all.
Without drive, ambition and the right mindset, your property investment journey might never begin. Brown’s mission is to get people to kickstart their mindset.
Well, when you look at anything, and this is what I was discovering as I said with my property investing seminars because I started to teach property investing, and most of the people in the room would be like, “Yeah, right up and everything is going to be great.” And I’ll be like, “I’ve given them everything I’ve got. I’ve given the ABCDEFG down to Z and then 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 steps and all the rest of it on how to do a subdivision or how to do a strata title or how to do this strategy.” And I would do it all in this weekend and they go out and do nothing with it.
And sometimes months later, I’d get a call and they’d say, “Oh, I went and did a negative gearing or whatever and now, I’m in trouble. And can you help me?” And I’m kind of like, “Well, you came to my seminar and I was very clear that that isn’t going to make you money and these are the reasons why”
And it’s not just in property investing that mindset is key to success.
I really believe that I was probably very fortunate because I grew up with a father who said, “You can do anything you want to do.” And I had it but didn’t realize that’s what it was. That’s what took me through the marriage breakup and all that type of thing that I talked about in the last podcast. But the big thing with everything is you’ve got to have a goal. And that’s what keeps you going. And you’ve got to have a goal before you start – before you end the goal. So if you’ve got something happening and it’s big, before you finish that thing and achieve it, you must have something else to take you past it because if you don’t, you don’t have hope.
And so, when I look at teaching mindset, these are the types of things I teach is how to write really empowering goals, how to work out what your goals actually are because a lot of people don’t even know what their goals are. And the other thing that most people I find in life, like if I ask a room full of people if they know what their purpose in life is, I might get one person put their hand up in a room of say, 20 or 30 or 40. In 50, I might get two. In 100, I might get three or four if I’m lucky.
And I find that really, really, really sad because, for me, the purpose is what gets you out of bed every morning when things are not going right. It’s what gets you up and it’s what gets you going and it’s what makes you think, “How do I solve this problem? And what’s the solution to this? And how do I get out of this situation? And how do I make the most of this? Wow! Is this a good opportunity for me or is it just a bit that’s glittering and I need to stop being distracted by it?”
Having goals without any purpose is a fast track to nowhere. Brown warns against over-educating yourself with seminars and forgetting your real motivation.
And I find that people jump from thing to thing to thing to thing because they don’t have purpose and they don’t have goals. And so, they’re distracted by all these glittering shiny objects. And you see that in a seminar industry. I’m friends with a lot of seminar speakers. And I’d go to their seminars and speak for them or whatever on mindset for example and I’d see the same people in the room that have been in my seminar five weeks earlier. And I know that they’ve been to someone else’s seminar because I’ve seen them on that list or someone I know went to that seminar with them.
And I know that these people are going from to seminar to seminar to seminar. Well, the reality is, that’s not going to help you. You need to get off your backside and actually put the knowledge and put it into place. And the reason that they’re not doing that is generally because one, they don’t know what it is that they’re looking for. So they don’t know what their purpose in life is and they don’t know what the end goal is. And so, how can you ever – it’s kind of like getting in the car and going, “Well, I want to go to – well, I don’t know where I want to go so I’m just going to drive.”
As she succinctly puts it, you never start a journey without a destination in mind - so why should your property investment journey be any different?
If you decide you want to travel, you don’t – you just don’t go, “Oh well, I want to travel.” You go and get a passport and you save up some money. You decide what your destination or you might want to do a mystery trip but you’re still making a decision that you want to go somewhere. Do you know what I mean?
Once you have your purpose, you set the goals that you need to complete your ambitions.
And then you take the steps to go to that destination even if it’s a mystery trip. You still have a destination in mind. I find most people start property investing with no destination in mind. And so, the first seminar they go to, which is often a negative gearing seminar which by the way, I’m adamantly against because it doesn’t help people to make money and probably I don’t care what they say. I’ve helped so many people who have been desperately, financially ruined by negative gearing.
But people want to invest in property to make money but they don’t actually know how to assess that even because they haven’t even decided that. But more importantly, here’s where focus comes into it, it’s not about making money. It’s about what that money can do for you. And so, it’s about lifestyle but it’s even more than that. To me, it’s about philanthropy. How can I help the world? How can I make the world a better place? How can I change? How can I facilitate change that’s positive even and all the rest of it?
And sometimes, that means you’ve got to stand up and do things and say, “This isn’t acceptable.” And that’s tough love and all the rest of it. But the thing is, I know my purpose and I know where I’m headed and I know what my goals are. And so each day, I can get up and I can look at something and I go, “Well, that’s not in alignment with my purpose so I don’t want to get distracted by that or that’s not a goal of mine. That’s your goal. You go right ahead and I’m happy to say well done and all the rest of it. But I’m not going to get distracted by going on your journey. I’m going to stay on mine.”
Brown’s overall purpose in teaching property investment is to make people realise - and then stick to - their own goals.
I think that’s so important and that’s what I teach. I work with people so that they can get their purpose or at least start to find out what it is. Sometimes it takes a long time.
I was talking to a girl yesterday who came to one of my – I used to do these mindset mastery courses and we worked on purpose. And she left with an idea but never really landed on it. And it was really unusual because pretty much everyone would have a really good idea. But she said to me last weekend she finally got it, what her purpose is. And it was just like bang. But she started the journey, and that’s important. And that’s what I teach. As you can hear, I’m very passionate about.
It’s stories like these that drive Brown to complete her own goals in property investing.
Helping people find that because when they find that, everything else falls into place. But purpose and goals and things, you got to have more than you just want to make money. It has got to be what are you going to do with that money? How can you make a change and a difference? So important.
Knowing why you want to invest in property and what you want to get out of your property investment is critical to success. The most successful investors want a way of life out of their property investment journey, not just a certain figure in their bank account.
People say, “Oh, your purpose changes.” No, it doesn’t. The tools you use to get to your purpose may change. For example, I write books, I mentor people, I do public speaking, all that type of stuff. I do a lot of philanthropy. But it all aligns with my purpose. And because I’m so clear on that purpose, I don’t get distracted by other people’s purposes or goals or intentions or whatever. Yeah.
But to take this back to the property, I see so many people, they put the cart before the horse and you have to put the horse first, the horse leads. The cart does not go first. But they just go, “You know, I want to invest in property.” And they don’t know why they want to invest in property. They don’t have a goal of, “I want to make x amount of dollars or I want to do this type of strategy.” The strategy – the goal is yours. It’s personal. But they don’t even have that. And then if they have a goal of making money and their purpose in life is to give, they’re going to find that hard to reconcile unless they’re making money to give it away. But they’ve got to know their purpose to be able to reconcile that.
And it’s so important that you at least before you start investing decide what it is you want out of investing. You have to decide that. Otherwise, it’s just going to be – things go wrong. It’s the same thing. Because things go wrong, they do go wrong. You’ve got to be able to get out of bed in the morning and go, “Well, I’m not just going to throw my hands in the air and go bankrupt and upset all these people.” You get up and say, “I’ve got a problem here. I need to solve this because it’s important to me in who I am and I need to live with myself.”
All in all for Brown, once you start actively solving the issues that property investing entails...
That’s when you know your purpose and your goal has been. You just go for it.
Brown attributes a lot of her success to having mentors throughout her property investing journey.
If you want to do something well, you find somebody who is doing it and be prepared to pay them to mentor you. If you don’t pay, you basically get nothing. Here’s the thing, Tyrone. I was so fortunate because I have my dad. And I just have my dad. Even my dad passed away 10 or 11 years ago, and even when he was ill and in bed and bedridden, I would lie in the bed with him. And I remember one time, a storm went through Mount Eliza and we have a property in Mount Eliza. And here I am on the bed and I’m talking to him about this tree that has fallen on our property in Mount Eliza and I’m helping him with the subdivision he was doing. He was doing 2-into-3. And we were on a bed doing this.
So right up until he died, we were doing property together. And then he passed away. And then I’m like, “Oh my goodness! Who will I bounce all this stuff off with?” And it wasn’t that we knew everything. We didn’t. We still don’t and we never will. But it was just having somebody who had the knowledge and who do you know that does this and what you do and we’ve done a few things together and things like that. And my dad was just about to retire or he had just retired when he got sick. And we were wanting to do projects together and things like that and that never eventuated but that was my mentor. And all of a sudden, it went.
And so, I started looking for mentors. And so that’s when I found the seminar world. And so, I would go to seminars and I remember sitting through one where every second word was a swear word and I don’t swear. It’s my choice not to swear. I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s necessary from a stage at all. And I was embarrassed because I took a young 18-year-old young man who was interested in investing and property and I was just squirming inside because this wasn’t the type of environment I wanted him in.
After attending a large volume of seminars, she took a step back and realised something important.
I went to so many seminars. And what I worked at in a seminar, I would sit there and because I had years of experience and I’ve made a lot of money, I took it and go, “This strategy is actually going to send these people broke.” The only person making money out of this is the person standing up on that stage. And it’s not ethical. Do you know what I mean? And I ended up getting so annoyed about it that I found a few people that were pretty good and are also good but I had my arm twisted very severely because here’s the other thing I didn’t know what I had or what knowledge I had, I was really getting frustrated by it. And then someone asked me if I would step on their stage and explain a deal I was doing. And it was a pretty big deal and I had a lot of profit in it. And I always look at percentage profit as well as dollar profit right, so that’s one of the things I was teaching.
So, I was on this stage after months of them trying to convince me to share this deal because I was like, “What do I have to tell all these property investors?” And about 300 people in the room. And I watch them get it. And afterwards, people came out and they’re like, “You’re like us and so, if you can do it, we can do it.” And I gave people hope and I went, “Man, these promoters just got paid thousands of dollars for all these people to be in the room. I came in as a guest speaker. I didn’t even get paid. I didn’t even know that thing that you could get paid.” And I’ve just made them look good.
And so I went, “I’m just going to teach this myself.” And that’s what I did. I started my own property investing journey. So to go back to your question about mentoring, what I look for is people who have ethics and integrity and work similarly to me. And so these days, pretty much the only person I recommend because I don’t teach property anymore is Nhan Nguyen because I’ve watched Nhan for years. I’ve co-written a book with him. And I was seeing his results and I know that he’s currently in the marketplace which a lot of seminar speakers aren’t. And so – and I know he’s not for everybody just like I’m not for everybody. But if you want to learn stuff, you need to learn from somebody who knows what they’re doing and who has your best interest at heart. And so, that’s the type of thing I look for in mentors is the integrity of the person, what they’re actually doing.
She also credits Brian Tracy as another of her mentors, who has taught her a great deal about mindset.
With mindset, probably Brian Tracy has been one of my most influential mentors. It was really funny. I started teaching mindset and someone said to me, “Have you read this book?” And I went, “No. Who is that?” And it was Brian Tracy. Anyway, I went and read the book and I was like reading my own material and I ended up becoming friends and being mentored by Brian for speaking. But I learned so much about mindset from him as well.
But I read books. I put it into practice. I experimented with myself. I taught it to people, and teaching is one of the best ways to learn stuff. Even my conversation with you today had reminded me that I need to go and reassess a couple of goals that I’ve got. So it’s so important to do that. So I think it’s important to be mentored but also to mentor because you learn from both sides.
One of Brown’s most successful strategies, strata titling, helped her achieve her goal of financial freedom.
Probably one of the most successful strategies I’ve ever done is strata titling. So it’s a lot harder to do these days and the money probably isn’t in it as much but it’s certainly worth knowing about it and you can apply the philosophy to a number of things. I mentioned splitter-box was one of the first strategies. And that’s a form of strata titling in that there are two blocks already but they’re on one title.
A block of flats that has not been separated into separate titles, what I would do is go and buy a block of flats. And the really great thing about this is that there would be tenants in all of the flats. So let’s say I bought a block of three. You’d have income coming in. And while it wouldn’t probably be positive because very few things are positively geared, and this is the one time that negative gearing I say is helpful, OK?
But you would still be getting income so that would be paying for the deal if you were financing the deal. And then what I would do is strata title those units individually so I could sell them off individually. And that would make their value more. And it’s the same with the land. If you get a splitter-block and you got them all – or even subdivision, it’s probably the same philosophy.
So you’re just going to look for these opportunities. So I bought a lot of – well, not a lot but it was one of the things I really enjoy was the strata title. The good thing about strata title is that there’s not a lot of work in it. The Renos – when I first started doing Renos, I do them myself because I could and obviously my time on the site meant that I wasn’t paying someone else. But these days, I would pay people to do the Renos if I was doing Renos.
But the strata title, you don’t have to physically be there. I did the strata title up in Bowen. It was three blocks. And I can’t remember exactly the numbers off the top of my head now but I walked away with a 67% profit on the money that I had put into it. Like it’s like – that’s insane but it was good. And I worked it out. I had spent less than 40 hours on it over a 6-month period. And to me, I don’t know about you, but time means money and when you are investing in property to make money, you also – you want to get a good return on your time. That’s important.
You’re investing time so you want to get a good time return. So I look at things like that. And obviously, with everything you do, you want to invest the least amount of time, the least amount of money for the largest amount of return. And so for me, those types of strategies were really, really great.
I’ve looked at tons of blocks and units. I still look at them. I still have a real estate alert set up every week for blocks and units in the Brisbane area. But the returns are not as good because people got on – it’s like the split-a-box, people got on board, the owners realized the value in there and they started to take the value so it’s not as good. But it’s certainly a strategy that has – they’re one of my favourites and well-worth my while.
Brown also co-authored a book that shares all her most valuable strategies.
I wrote a book called The Property Investing Formula. And I ended up co-authoring it with Nhan Nguyen and I brought him on board with it because Nhan has the experience in a couple of areas that was more relevant or he had better examples and more recent experience. So we co-wrote that book together. So it’s called The Property Investing Formula. And I believe we still have a website where you can go buy but it’s on Amazon.
And you can even order it from bookstores. It was really great. We were – I was offered a book deal, a distributor picked us up. I didn’t even go looking for it. And so, you can buy it from bookstores as well. But I think you can go to ThePropertyInvestingFormula.com.au or something like that and you can buy it there maybe. I don’t know. I can’t remember because it has been a while. But if you want to just want to get in touch with one of us. But you can, just Google it and it will come up on Amazon.
When it comes to personal habits, Brown turns to the Bible for meditation and also reveals goal setting as another key habit for her.
I think it’s really important to set your day up. So for me, that meditates – I’m a Christian so meditation, some scripture, Bible reading, prayer, that type of thing. But it’s as much about the rest and the time out and letting your mind just have that space. I think that’s really important. If I ever start to feel overwhelmed, I just take time out, which sounds like a title opposite but I’ll do 10 minutes of just sitting with not – I’ll focus on something.
That’s the other thing. You never empty your mind because then thoughts just come in everywhere. Focus on something and then you’ll find that the solutions will start to appear.
The second habit is to write your goals. Write your goals. Write your goals. I recommend you write your goals twice a day but you need to have them with you all the time and just be staying focused on them and what is the most important thing. Go after that. And that to me is one of the most important habits.
If you enjoyed this podcast about Brown’s strategy and mindset and want to learn more from her, you can pick up her book The Property Investing Formula, or you can connect with her via email.
Probably the easiest way is to send an email to us. The email address is [email protected], and the jenniebrown is one word, lower case, J E-N-N-I-E is a bit confusing but if you don’t put the I-E in there, we don’t get it.