Episode #24 – AJ Hazzi – Blending chutzpah and humility

“I really, truly believe I am unemployable… My only option is to stay here and be successful with this. I looked at the downturn as an opportunity for me to galvanize myself in this business as not just some young kid that had flash in the pan success during a hot market. I saw it as an opportunity to show people what I was made of and get creative”– AJ Hazzi

AJ Hazzi is the owner of Vantage West Realty, a growing boutique firm based in Kelowna, BC. Vantage West Realty was built, and continues to grow, by breaking the traditional mould when it comes to how they practice real estate. AJ has a reputation as being somewhat of a real estate renegade, and he and his team have been shaking up the Kelowna real estate scene since 2002.

AJ has been a student of real estate long enough to have experienced two complete and different market cycles and has come to specialize in investment real estate. AJ’s role within his firm and the community has evolved to providing the necessary education to his clients for them to achieve financial freedom through real estate.

Supporting and arming his clients with knowledge on where to find positive cash-flow, how to renovate for profit, and other creative and advanced strategies many ignore or miss, AJ has carved out his niche as a real estate investment advisor, and loves nothing more than educating people on the right strategy to capitalize on, in both boom and bust years. AJ views real estate and the Kelowna market as being rich with opportunity, if one knows where to look.

AJ practices what he teaches and has used a range of strategies to build his own real estate portfolio including buy and hold, multi and single-family rentals, development and resort property, fix and flips, and commercial space. AJ believes that by sharing his knowledge, experience and the experience of others, he generates the confidence his investor clients need to take action and build their portfolios.

AJ is well on his way to cracking the code for building his business by helping others to succeed and build their financial futures investing in real estate.

Selected Links and People Mentioned from this episode:

Show Notes

  • [02:03] Introduction to today’s guest as part of our REIN Member Series: AJ Hazzi
  • [04:58] Patrick and AJ get underway but before we go too far – what does AJ stand for?
  • [05:23] AJ shares his elevator pitch.
  • [06:19] Let’s hear a little bit more about his outfit: Vantage West Realty, an investor-based brokerage located in Kelowna.
  • [07:22] AJ takes us back to where he comes from, his family background and who he watched growing up to build his entrepreneurial chops.
  • [08:53] The skills and education AJ has gained along the way. The hard way.
  • [09:56] AJ’s start in real estate came at a young age, travelling, living the life of a young 19-year-old on the beaches of Australia when he realized how he could make his money stretch a little further with a little help from his friends.
  • [12:59] Back in Kelowna AJ decides to dive in to real estate. Did his youth come as an advantage or disadvantage?
  • [14:48] The influences which were shaping AJ to show up as he was during the beginning stages of his career as a realtor.
  • [15:35] AJ reflects on what set him apart from other 20-year-olds at that time in his life. For better or worse.
  • [17:05] AJ shares an eye-opening experience of how ego tripped him up and how the fall-out proved to be a defining moment.
  • [19:53] How did the lessons he learned from his Mom differ from the ones he learned from his Dad? Reputation and opportunity.
  • [21:50] AJ explains how and when he started his real estate investing career.
  • [23:58] As AJ grew his own business in Kelowna he had some legitimate obstacles to overcome. Time to find some creative and innovative solutions!
  • [27:10] AJ explains how he took the obstacles of a downturn and turned them into opportunity. Opportunity to set his foundation, rebuild his reputation and shine.
  • [27:56] AJ tells us about one of the major forks in his business road, and the necessity for humility.
  • [30:37] As his awareness shifts, AJ sees the gaps in his business and seeks coaching to help him up level and round out his leadership team.
  • [32:41] What is one of AJ’s big “a-ha” moments in his evolution so far?
  • [35:34] The unique value proposition of AJ’s brokerage. #1 is culture.
  • [37:37] Turning the typical sales culture on its head and empowering his team to drive their results and success.
  • [41:38] What AJ’s day looks like within Vantage West now.
  • [42:33] The eco-system of AJ’s financial future and how that also weaves into Vantage West Realty.
  • [44:14] What is the passion that fires AJ up every morning?
  • [45:56] Through AJ’s first two experiences, Patrick and AJ delve into a conversation about land development.
  • [51:48] The challenge, the growth and the journey are the fuel that keeps AJ’s fire lit for development.
  • [53:37] AJ speaks to his adversity quotient and the mindset he holds and when the s*#t is hitting the fan.
  • [55:22] Resiliency and personal development through managing his state physically and mentally.
  • [56:20] What is AJ reading these days?
  • [57:05] AJ tells the story of meeting his wife and the instrumental part she has played in his success.
  • [58:38] Once again, AJ affirms the importance of spouses aligning on a collective vision and getting behind the “why”.
  • [60:49] As an entrepreneurial husband, how does AJ best support his wife?
  • [61:53] Rules of engagement in their home for devices/phones.
  • [64:05] How does AJ define success? When is enough, enough? (or is there even a finish line?)
  • [65:41] The advice AJ would give his 20-year-old self, which goes back to a bit of Mom’s advice.
  • [66:41] With the experiences he’s had on his journey thus far, AJ offers some wise guidance for those who are getting into the business of real estate.
  • [67:47] For real estate investors, here are some key questions to ask a realtor before working with them to purchase investment property.
  • [69:20] How important is it for a realtor and a client to be in alignment from a business and character perspective?
  • [71:35] Let’s hear about AJ’s daily routine for self-care.
  • [73:11] AJ and Patrick talk structure, playing to strengths and working in alignment with our productive time, whenever that may be.
  • [76:03] Going back to self-care, AJ talks about what he fuels his body with.
  • [77:27] Patrick brings on the rapid fire! Favourite swear word, alternate profession, what he’d like to hear at the pearly gates, weirdness scale (it’s a trend!), being geographically challenged, favourite tune and favourite movie.
  • [78:58] AJ’s gratitude.

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