Sam Elbanna

How to Be an Investor at 18 and Build your own Real Estate Agency

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This episode meets Sam Elbanna – CEO of CPM Realty – who shares how he began his property investing when he was only 18 and ran his first company while studying and followed his passion for project marketing to form and build his own real estate agency over the last 21 years. 

From menswear to realty, listen on as he recounts his journey and the lessons he has learnt as an investor as well as how he built his wealth from not selling his properties!

‘I saw them buy real estate, sell it too soon, and miss out on those gains and I learned you know from a very young age that you know the best way to make money out of the property was to never sell.’

Sam Elbanna

Elbanna has been the CEO of CPM Realty for 21 years, but even in his early life as a realtor his interests led to his career in project marketing.

Look when I first started my career in real estate I was just doing regular residential sales and selling homes for mums and dads etc. and as much fun as that was. I always was fascinated by property development. I’m fascinated by design architecture, planning, law. Having a degree land economics I sort of took a bit of an interest in that sort of thing and I sort of took that opportunity when the opportunity came up to get into Project marketing with McGrath, I spoke to John, took up the opportunity and never looked back.

An early start and regimented schedule are just some of the ways Elbanna balances his professional and personal life day today.

I’m normally up by five, five-fifteen. Not that exciting. 

It’s pretty early. I race downstairs I put the coffee machine on sort of loosen up my body etc. etc. I have a cup of coffee and go through my e-mails and normally have them finished by ten to six, six o’clock and then I’ll either go for a walk or go to the gym till about 6.45 to seven. And usually in the office by 7.15. From there I plan my day. Normally I have it planned out the night before but I sort of get down to the nitty-gritty and I start my meetings normally at about eight or eight-thirty and my day comprises basically of meetings with existing clients, meetings with banks, other advisers etc. And I normally finish my day, I do my best to finish by six-thirty every day. I like to get home to my wife and kids at a reasonable hour but I’d say probably one or two nights a week I’m certainly not home before 10 or 11 o’clock. 

Elbanna’s childhood gave him gratitude for his own blessings, while his hard work brought him his first taste of success.

I grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney. I was very blessed in my opinion to have grown up in that area because I got to see both sides of the way people live. I saw people that were financially disadvantaged and also got a chance to see people financially advantaged. I was blessed in so far as I grew up in a very middle-class family I can’t say we really struggled and that’d be an outright lie but we certainly weren’t wealthy people. I left the western suburbs I think when I was about 21 or 22 and I moved into North Ryde from there I moved into the Sutherland Shire and I got stuck there for a lot of years. I loved the place and then over time I moved obviously to Brighton-Le-Sands and now I live in the city. 

Wow, that’s beautiful.

Yeah. So why.

 Did you get hitched. 


 I was going so, did you? Did you go to school in western Sydney?

I went to school in Western Sydney I graduated from John Paul the Second High School, which is in Marayong, back in God 87 I’m showing my age now. I went to university, graduated from there in 91 92 and during university days I actually had a, believe it or not, I had a menswear business. 

Realising the importance of having a degree allowed him to set himself up for his future career in property.

I did a Bachelor of Business with the Major in land economics. It was very much a property degree. 

I always knew that I was never going to be an academic but I also knew, so I saw the importance of having that degree behind me because having a degree generally just gives you choices. It doesn’t make or break you career-wise but it gives you choices. And I also learned very early that when you’re dealing with people from other countries and particularly from Asia or the Middle East having a degree’s a very important thing for them. 

And they’re more likely to want to do business with you because they know that you’ve got their qualification. And hey being at university was great fun. 

 After university, Elbanna continued his own business before his property career took off. 

I ran the menswear business for another couple of years and then I was lucky enough to be able to sell that business. And when I came back to Sydney I was living on the Gold Coast for six or seven months when I, with the menswear business, when I came back to Sydney I started to get a job at the local real estate office, you know Ray White office and sort of things expanded from there quite quickly. 

Once he realised his passion for project marketing, Elbanna made the decision to move to turn it into his career.

I was at Gymea for about probably eight months or nine months. And I actually pitched for a development around the corner there was a block of 12 apartments and I didn’t get the job. I didn’t get the listing and I was pretty heartbroken because I put a lot of effort into it. And then the agent who took it on I think he sold eight out of 12 and nothing happened for two or three months. And the developer rang me up and said look if you can move these quickly that’d be a really good thing. I said okay and I don’t know how I did it to be frank. 

Somehow I was able to move the remaining apartments in about three or four weeks. 

That’s fast.

And it was quick back then. 

And at the time I thought to myself well I want to make a career out of this I just don’t want to be doing this on the side. I don’t think in real estate you can do something as part-time. You’re either all in or you’re not in at all. And so I decided I want to pursue a career in Project marketing and being where I was there really wasn’t that opportunity. So I was going to be forced to move to the city or the eastern suburbs I guess. And then off to McGrath I went and I was there for a couple of years. 

Despite the increased difficulty of changing careers before the rise of the Internet, Elbanna found a role where he gained the experience to start his own realty.

There was no such thing as online back then. Back then it was you know you look in the Sydney Morning Herald on a Tuesday and a Saturday and you contact everyone you know in the industry and you hope you know you’ll land somewhere. That’s how it was done back then. Which I might add, as much as I love the Internet I think it was actually a way to look for a job that built character. 

Wow. So it’s quite interesting. And then from there, you worked in McGrath for a couple of years and you develop those skills. Then you decide OK I’m going to go out and start your own business is that what happened.

Well yeah, I worked at McGrath for a couple of years. I learned an extraordinary amount but what McGrath gave me more than anything was an exposure to project marketing as far as when you’ve got that sort of brand behind you I was able to sort of go-to developers and quite often I say hi I’m and they’d say who? But when I would say I was from McGrath they’d stand up and listen. And over time I say to you know pick up a fair bit of business and you start to get itchy after a while and I just felt like it was time for me to sort of you know spread my wings and I was lucky enough to be able to start you know CPM and here we are today. We’re still here. 

Inspiration from his parents came from following their investing strategies and their successes and losses.

Look my influences from my parents were not so much to get into the industry but I learnt a lot from them. I saw them buy real estate and then sell it and you know make significant gains. 

I also saw them I saw them buy real estate sell it too soon and miss out on those gains and I learned you know from a very young age that you know the best way to make money out of the property was to never sell. 

And you know it makes you think about having parents you know from the 80s. You know or from the 70s even and they always tell you that they should have could have would have, you know they should have kept this property. They could have bought that property et cetera et cetera. And I just learned very quickly that hard work is important. And you know having a bit of a plan for your future is very very important. So you know I had a dream, but a dream without a plan is just a fantasy. And then I worked out how to create a plan of everything from that. 

Beginning to build his portfolio from such a young age proved to be an educational experience for Elbanna.

The first property I bought was on my 18th birthday.

Yeah, it was a disaster. I bought a block of land. I was, I hate to say it but I was young and I was dumb and I was conned. I bought a block of land on the south coast of New South Wales that was zoned rural that everyone promised me would be rezoned residential. So being a genius I bought this thing for twelve thousand nine hundred fifty dollars and I sold it in 2006 for nine thousand dollars. 

My second property so I thought you know this is not working for me, my second property I think I bought when I was about 21 and that was a three-bedroom apartment in Gosford overlooking the water and I thought this is good. 

What I forgot was I bought it because it was cheap. 

And one thing I always remember after that day as if something is cheap it’s cheap for a reason. Anyway had a lovely tenant in there was a single mum with a daughter. When I sold that in 2006, I think I got 109 for it, I think I sold for about 115,000. 

And I had never put the rent up. 

But I learned some very big lessons from there. One was that you want to invest in quality and you want to invest where people want to live. 

If it’s cheap it’s cheap for a reason. So after that I started investing, my next investment property I bought was in Alexandria in Sydney’s sort of inner suburbs. 


And you know I sort of I thought I hit the lottery. You know I bought this property I think was a one-bedroom terrace home for 150 odd thousand dollars. And the day I settled I had a tenant in there at 180 dollars a week and I thought I was Donald Trump. 

And then it just started from there. So you know from there I started buying properties that I really believed in, big projects that I was selling. 

So you know I bought apartments in the Hudson and Alexandria and lots of other projects and I think back in ninety-eight, ninety-nine I bought a property in Surrey hills. 

I bought it off the plan. It was a huge apartment with city views and I paid 350 for it and I sold it for on completion for 670000 and then I was convinced I was you know as rich as Donald Trump. 

Unfortunately, the fellow that I sold to then resold a year later for 810000. And today you could not buy it for two million dollars. 

And so I learnt a very important lesson there which was just don’t sell. Because when you sell A, you’re going to pay agent’s fees, B, you’re going to pay tax and C, more importantly, when you have that much money in your pocket you tend to do very frivolous things with it. So you buy cars and go on holiday. So it was at that time I decided I would never ever ever sell a property again unless I was absolutely desperate and I had to. And that’s when the real journey started. So from there when I bought properties I held them and continue to hold them and apart one property which I sold three years ago I’ve never sold anything since.  

So what does Elbanna look for in a potential property?

Look I have a couple of rules that I live by when it comes to buying real estate as an investor. I’m not going to talk about being an owner-occupier because that’s a whole different set of rules anyway. But from an investment point of view my number one rule is I have to buy where people want to live. And so you know people often say to me Well why would you buy a one-bedroom in Surrey Hills for a million dollars when you could buy a house on land package in you know another suburb for a  million dollars. And my answer always is is because people want to live in Surrey Hills. People want to be close to the station they want to be close to transport. They want the cafe lifestyle they want the restaurants they want the proximity to the CBD. So it’s number one rule, you invest where people want to buy. My next one is always is Sydney is, and I’m talking about Sydney here. Sydney is a city that is really drawn to water and so where possible you want to live very close to the harbour or very close to one of the beaches. Now I don’t care if it’s Cronulla Beach. I don’t care if it’s Manly or Bondi or Tamarama, the closer you are to a beach or the CBD the more likely you are to see significant capital gains. 


More importantly the more likely you are to see an endless stream of tenants wanting your property. And that’s really important. 

And his final rule?

Number three is I always want to be in entertainment hubs or restaurant type hubs because once again people like to be in areas where they can walk out of their home and go to a cafe or a restaurant or go to a park or get ice cream. And that’s why you know I traditionally have bought in suburbs that have that or are about to have that you know. So my first investments for example in Alexandria and Rosebery, they were the days when Alexandra was a desert wasteland. But you knew it was coming. 

Yeah so if you were able to buy and hold over time the gains you could make were quite significant and they suddenly still exist in Sydney today. It’s just sort of pick which ones are there. It’s not that hard. Yeah, Google is pretty good for anybody. You know pick the suburb work out what you want and what you can afford and then you jump in and do everything you can to hold on. Quite often I see people say oh it’s a bit too hard or you know I’ll have to wait an extra year and to be there you know it’s almost a defeat a defeatist attitude. And the other big thing for me is I always buy off the plan, it’s my number one priority.

Despite the success of his career, Elbanna still faces challenges.

Some years ago I bought a property two or three years ago. I bought a studio apartment here in Sydney and I paid let’s call it six hundred thousand dollars. And at the time the banks were throwing money at everybody. And so my philosophy is because I built up equity in other properties was that I use a deposit bond to secure the property. And from there I wait until settlement and then I borrow the money from the bank. And based on the valuation the bank will generally lend you the whole purchase price so I bought this for six and had it valued up at 790 on completion. It was a really fantastic gain. Getting a loan from the bank for six hundred thousand dollars was actually a problem. 

OK. That’s interesting. 

And I found that extraordinary given that they’d never had any difficulties in the past. And basically what it came down to was that the banks were cracking down due to APRA’s recommendation on interest-only loans and on investors, they just did they wanted to have fewer investors more owner-occupiers in the market. 

So for the first time in my career I had to go to two or three banks until I finally got a loan and that two or three week period was actually really stressful. 

Despite his financial stresses, Elbanna had to continue to run his business and take care of his family until he found a solution.

That’s a significant amount of money and it was actually very very stressful period. Now I knew that eventually, I would find a way. But in the meantime, you know the developer needs me to settle this property and if I don’t sell he has every right to take my 10% deposit to sell it to somebody else. And so here I was going to be hit with a double whammy. A, I could lose the 10 per cent deposit or the bond which is 60 odd thousand dollars. And secondly, I would miss out on the significant gain because now it’s valued at 790. And so that would have really hurt. 

Luckily I was able to speak to the banks or speak to a particular bank and they could not understand why I was going through this nonsense. And they were able to approve it in 48 hours but you know the levels of stress were very very very high and they probably weren’t as high as they would be much higher than they should have been. But when you’re actually like running a business and doing a whole bunch of other things to your children as well you can’t dedicate the time to these things as you would otherwise dedicate if you just didn’t have these extra pressures. 

After finding the silver lining in this particularly challenging property, he pursued it to reach future financial success.

I don’t think I bought it for undervalue at all. I think I paid a fair market value for it at the time. Very much fair market value maybe even slightly over the market you know by 1 per cent or something. But I just really liked what the property offered, it was in the eastern suburbs. Number one it was almost directly on the new light rail that’s going in, number two it was close to the University of New South Wales. It had all those fundamentals that I look for in a property. 

And so I felt like it didn’t really matter if I paid an extra ten thousand dollars for it because I knew that over the ensuing 18 months or two years or whatever it took to complete it that I would get the growth out of it anyway. And you know luckily I was right. 

But you can never predict exactly what you’re going to get what you can predict is whether it’s going to be a good investment or not. 

Although not directly property related, he reveals how the highlight of his career was securing the future of his loved ones.

I think the big aha moment for me when was when my kids were born. And I watched them grow up. And by the time they were sort of eight-nine 10 years old I could see that the chances of them buying their first property were going to be more difficult than it was for me. And I knew I had to do something to set them up. And so over time I actually bought properties that I put into trust for them. 

So that would give them their chance at life once they reached a certain age. Thankfully I haven’t had to actually give them those properties yet because the oldest of them is only 24. 

And I said I wouldn’t do it till they were 30. 

Lucky them.

Yeah, but they don’t even know that. They might know now but they don’t even know. 

And I never wanted them to know because I still wanted them to find their own way. And this could be just a bonus for them. You know if they ever get to that stage in life where they need the help. But you know I look at them now and you know they’re the oldest who is 24 years old and they’ve got qualifications they have very good incomes. So they probably won’t even need me by the time they’re 30. But if things didn’t go as well as they could have for them then they probably might have. 

The Recipe for Success: How To Buy Off The Plan and Build Equity with Sam Elbanna

real estate agency

So was there anything that held Elbanna back from initially investing into property?

Probably the lack of funds, but also probably not – simply because I was too dumb to know the risks and everyone laughs when I say that, but I really think that when you look at a lot of entrepreneurs when they first start out they actually don’t know the risks associated with doing what they’re doing. If I were to go back and start again at age 40 or 50 because I know too much, they may not be successful as when they first started. So no probably not. At that age, I think young men are quite fearless and they think that their whole life’s ahead of them and they don’t even think about the possibility of failure. 

And it goes beyond that as well. As we get older, we tend to have things like wives and children and families and responsibilities, so anything you’ve built you’re quite touchy about and you’re afraid to risk. That holds you back as well. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I’m a big proponent of buying off the plan because your initial commitment is quite small and you can continue to save and all those things you would have done anyway until completion, to build up the equity. And they don’t have that big risk that probably exists today starting the repayments from day one; it’s a way of conditioning yourself over a period of time, I guess.

Someone in this situation who wants to start investing in off the plan properties can condition their mind through making it their goal and focusing on it.

I’m a big believer that your mind is the most powerful tool you have and your mindset is critical to your success, so I think the number one thing is you have to make a decision. What do I want? It’s very simple. I know I do have goals and revise them myself every quarter, every year, without fail. I have done it for as long as I can remember and I break my sheet of paper into four columns – the first one is what is my goal is, one of them might be I want to be able to lose 100kg… who knows what is my goal! My second column is always identified by when, so I want to know my goal and I want to know by when. My third column is what is my plan, to get my blueprint if you will. And the last one which is the most important one is why I’m a big believer in it. If you don’t have a reason why you want to do it, you decide you’re not going to go do anything about getting your goal. It is the absolute desire and passion to achieve that goal which gets you there and even if your plan is flawed, if you have a passion you will find a way to get there anyway. 

About in 2005-2006, I went to see a client of mine and he said to me, ‘Hey, check out my car.’ It’s beautiful gleaming car and he said, ‘Take it for a spin,’ so I did and I brought it back and he said, ‘What you think?’ I said, ‘I’ve never seen anything like it. Extraordinary.’ I can picture the office that day. I Googled it and I made it my screensaver on my computer and I stared at it for five years. Guess what, I bought it! And now seven years later I still have the same kind of thing happen.By putting it in front of me and believing in it so passionately, that I must have this vehicle, it really wakes me up to the point that if you look at it enough and you want it badly enough, you will find away. If you just have this flippant, ‘It would be nice to have a real estate agency, or own a property,’ or whatever, you don’t really want it enough.It doesn’t really matter what your passion is, but you need to find it and make it so much an intrinsic part of your being that nothing that will stop you from achieving it.

Elbanna also advocates the role of a mentor in your life, to help you reach those goals. Mentors have also played an instrumental part in his own journey.

It’s probably inappropriate for me to tell you their names, but what I can do though is I can tell you that even at my age – I’m 47 – I still reach out to those mentors at least every month or two. And sometimes it could be as simple as having a cup of coffee and discussing the weather, or that very specific thing about what I’m planning on doing, or whatever the case may be. Because quite often what a mentor does for you is not just a person you talk to about business, just a person you talk to in general because their pearls of wisdom are there. And it’s a real nice buffer too because they have no emotional attachment to what you’re doing, so whatever they give you is going to be from their heart, I think it’s really powerful stuff.

Interestingly, as I’ve gotten older I found myself almost falling into that role with other people as well much younger than me at the time and it’s something I quite enjoyed doing. And given that I’ve been working on this sort of a system so first home buyers get into the marketplace in that way, so they can do it. I found myself doing a lot more of that and I got a little pleasure out of it because when you see someone come to you with a dream of owning their first home but have absolutely no way of getting there because they don’t know how to do it and you can help them, it gives you a lot of satisfaction.

There are a variety of books he is currently immersed in.

At any given time, I have four or five books on my bedside table. I read a quote many years ago that said, ‘If you walk into a wealthy man’s house, you’ll find a couple of flat-screen TVs and lots of books. You walk into a poor man’s house, you’ll find five flat-screen TVs and no books.’ So there’s a couple of books that I read religiously – I’ve given away one of these books probably 20 times now, to different friends and staff members. It’s a book by James Pickens I think his name is and it’s called The Art of Closing Any Deal. All it is is a very simple book about negotiating and it’s a very easy read, only a couple of hundred pages and I’ve never given it to anybody who said to me it was a bad book. So that’s one I’m reading again right now.

There’s another book I’m reading right now – rereading – called The Billionaire Mindset which I’m finding fascinating, because when you read a book a second or third time you will actually read things that you either didn’t pick up the first time or forgot that you read. So on the mindset I think it’s a wonderful book. And I just started reading the biography of Elon Musk, I found that last night. The books that fascinate me the most are the books that resonate with me most from a business perspective, but also it’s strange, I find people very interesting and Elon Musk I didn’t know much about him to be honest with you. I knew who he was or what he did, but I don’t know anything about him. But now that I’ve read the first half dozen pages, I’m actually intrigued and I can’t stop reading which is really good. The book I’m reading about Bruce Springsteen, he’s been an idol of my fertile 14 years old; I’m reading it and it’s weird isn’t it?

But having such an eclectic collection of books means that any given time you can read whatever suits you at that given moment – and it doesn’t matter if you’re reading a business book, reading The Financial Review, or you’re reading something personally attached to your childhood. It’s quite interesting how at the very least you’re improving your vocabulary and you’re improving your ability to speak with other people. At the end of the day the best way to communicate to people is speaking to them and to expand your vocabulary and your ability to converse I think is critical to success, in any walk of life.

For sure, especially in the field of property as well.

Look, at the end of the day, the property is a people business. We are helping people fulfil their dreams of homeownership, or investing, or whatever the case may be. It’s a lot harder to do it without speaking. 

The best pieces of advice he has ever received is centred on maintaining a work/life balance.

The first advice is never to sell. The second bit of advice I got was there is no replacement for hard work, combined with a bit of knowledge and you might go on your way; then it went on to say the world is full of educated homeless people. So basically what it’s about is an educational loan will not make you successful, hard work alone will not make you successful. Combining the two with a bit of passion and all of a sudden, you’re on your way.

The big one I got struck a balance. And that is in my opinion absolutely critical: there is no point working stupid hours and being miserable at the end of it. You know, we’ve all seen too many young people pass away, too many young people get hurt or too many live with regret. So my attitude is and the advice I got was work really hard but make sure you take some time out for yourself, for your family and look after your health – very, very important because ultimately we’re doing this so we can have nice lives. Not so that our kids and grandkids can have a nice life, or we’ve missed out.

With his expertise in project marketing in off the plan developments, Elbanna breaks down how it works.

Project marketing essentially is an estate agent who sells an entire building of apartments or townhouses, as opposed to an estate agent who sells one apartment in a building, another apartment in another building and then a house the following day. So we focus primarily on the sale of apartments and townhouses and 90% of what we do is sold off the plan, which means we’re selling apartments that do not yet physically exist. In many senses and they never legally exist until the strata payment’s registered. So what buyers get a chance to do is they get to choose an apartment that does not exist and reap the benefits of any growth in the market that may or may not exist in the ensuing years until it’s built. That’s project marketing, in simple terms.

His target market? Owner-occupiers.

When we do what we call an annual autopsy, at the end of every year we sit down and look at what we did right, what we did wrong and what thing that’s going up year on year on year, is that if we target owner-occupiers, the investors will come.

You don’t want to target investors, because I’m a big believer in the social mix in a building and so we’re building the world, in my opinion, to invest in not where everybody else is an investor. That’s the first thing, the second thing is that people buy on emotion and there’s actually little doubt about that – you would not go out and buy an apartment you hate the look of. 

Of course not. 

It’s very simple! You would not meet your significant other and fall in love with someone you actually detested the sight of right? And the property’s pretty much the same, it’s a long term investment. We always aim to target owner-occupiers and as a consequence, I think this last year 52% of our sales were to owner-occupiers. The year before it was about the same, even though we were in a very, very strong investor-driven market.

And people keep coming back to Elbanna for his services.

I always say I’m blessed and I really am. A lot of our developments are with developer clients who are repeat clients, which means one would hope that we’ve actually done a good job for them previously. A lot of the time we pick up a new business as referrals from the banks who are funding developers, so quite often the bank wants to develop or finance your construction but you need to get a project marketer who we know can deliver the goods, get you the sales, do it in a certain time frame, etc. and so they end up coming to people like us. And thirdly, as you know I do what I did back when I first started – prospecting.

For those looking to get into a similar line of work, he says it’s vital to become a licensed real estate agent and be able to deal with and manage the high volume of properties.

You’ve got to get your registration if you want to sell and not let, but you also have to develop an understanding that you are dealing with people who are not the average mum and dad – you’re dealing with property developers and you’re dealing with banks, dealing with town planners. And so you’ve got to have a more well-rounded approach to what you’re doing. For example, if I was to sell your home today I would have a contract for sale that might be 50-100 pages. A development contract is really less than 250 pages. So I’m a big believer that you need to know what you’re doing if you’re selling, by reading and understanding that contract it’s a lot more involved.

And so everybody thinks it’s really lucrative, well it’s lucrative when things are going well but when things aren’t going well, it’s not quite as lucrative, is it? But the risks associated are much higher as well when you’re doing project marketing because you have one client with 50 or 100 properties to sell, as opposed to 50 clients with 50 properties to sell. So your risk is not spread, it’s very concentrated.

In the event where there is a slow market, Elbanna says you need to have a strategy as well as flexibility.

We’re big believers that your successes or your failures in project marketing happen at the beginning, not the end. What that means is number one, we have the correct marketing, number two the apartments are priced correctly and number three we have a plan, a strategy that we execute to the best of our ability but we still have the flexibility to move with the market if things change.

I can honestly tell you, not every project is a roaring success and sold out in the first two weeks and some of our developer clients don’t want it sold out in the first two weeks. Some of them want to take a little bit longer to make sure they’re getting the right price and they’re meeting the market, etc. So ultimately, it comes down to planning, preparation, obviously execution and the ability to be nimble enough to move when you need to move in a different direction.

With projects spanning anywhere between 12 months and three years, the ability to manage cash flow comes down to a juggling act.

It’s always a challenge, but developers always pay well – not always, but we will only take on developers if developers pay half our fee when we exchange contracts and the other half when the contract settles, so that helps cash flow. But that’s why you can’t have one project at a time, you need to have multiple projects at different stages of completion so that you’re trying to even out your cash flow as much as you can.

A personal habit which Elbanna attributes to his success is documenting the answers to questions he’s asked of more informed people.

Number one is reading, number two is doing some sort of physical activity and another one I think is not being afraid to ask. And I have a habit where I will ask somebody who is better than me in any sort of field something at least once a week and then documents what they say.  Because one thing you find is that you look back at it in ten years’ time and you think, ‘Wow.’ I remember when I was going through my divorce – this is going back many years ago – I found myself a little bit down so I started saying, ‘I’m going to create a plan, a blueprint for my life and the rules I’m going to live by.’ And I lost it and I came across it 12 years later and it was really interesting reading and a lot of it was stuff I picked up from other people that I’ve spoken to and they’d said something. I thought, ‘That’s really good.’ So I ask the questions and then document what the answers are. If nothing else, it will be great entertainment down the track, but you’ll find that you’ll start living by those principles.

Another personal habit which he recommends to do is keeping in touch with people regularly.

The other thing that I’m absolutely adamant about – and I don’t do it consistently enough and it breaks my heart – is I make a point of reaching out to people, or everyone I know, at least once every couple of months. And the reason I do that is it’s nice to have those friendships, but more importantly, it’s nice to know what people are doing with their lives. You might just learn something. And I’ve often found that when I reach out to people I haven’t spoken for a couple of years, there’s so much I’ve missed out on so many times and I’ve had lots of regrets. I visited someone a little while ago and I asked, ‘How’s your mum and dad?’ and they said, ‘Dad passed away,’ and I was heartbroken because I was really close to them. But because we’d lost touch over a couple of years, it hurt that I wasn’t able to be there for them, that made me feel terrible.

So I try to reach out to people very regularly just for the reason that it’s a good thing to do. But it also is refreshing and once again, part of being good at marketing, being good at investing being good at anything is keeping your mind fresh – and the best way to keep your mind fresh is have stimuli from many sources.

Finally, if Elbanna met himself from ten years ago, what would he say?

Stop wasting money on rubbish, buy more property and take more holidays. Isn’t it funny how very little of it is business-related, but it would be about taking more holidays, live life a bit, ring up your mum and dad and tell them you love them at least once or a few times a week – little things. Because the more you do that, the more life sort of gives back to you. As my wife says, have an attitude of gratitude.

If you would like to connect with Elbanna, the best way to do so is by phone.

I’m always available on email, by phone at my office, (02) 9247 1299. But I’m always contactable, I’m not always able to get back to people within the hour but I always get back to everyone within 24 hours.

This episode was produced by Andrew Faleafaga with narrations and interviews conducted by Tyrone Shum.

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