Episode 197 – Tom Karadza – Your Life, Your Terms

“I just feel like I’m at a stage where I don’t want to be defined by what I’ve done in the past. I’m always looking forward and always want to break the mold a little bit.” – Tom Karadza

  • Tom Karadza is Co-Founder of Rock Star Real Estate Inc. in Ontario that has worked with real estate investors since 2008 to help educate, inform and ultimately buy rental property across the Greater Toronto Area.
  • With a start in the software industry back in 1998, after a few years of being on the “technical” side of the business Tom decided to join the sales team. And he hit it out of the park in a big way! But he was miserable and felt like a cog in a big fat money machine.
  • With the guidance of an early influence, Dan Kennedy, Tom made the decision to become the master of his own life, his own rain maker, and the personal freedom that came along with that. He wanted to create his own business and live life on his own terms. This led to two things: real estate investing and a very serious study of marketing and sales.
  • Tom and his brother Nick decided to create their own real estate investing business and a real estate brokerage dedicated to investors. They started an investor program, “Income for Life,” in 2006 and then launched their own brokerage, “Rock Star Real Estate.” They wanted to start a brokerage “by investors, for investors” – so they did!
  • Dive into this episode, to hear more of Tom’s story from IT to Rock Star Real Estate, the influence of his immigrant parents and a contrarian mindset that informs his values and integrity and is at the root of how Tom operates both in business and personally. Tom shares how their company has evolved from operating exclusively in Toronto and the GTA to recently expanding (with the right team) to offer opportunities for real estate education and ownership in Florida. Exchanging the role of interviewer from time to time, Tom and Patrick talk about the powerful impact of meditation, personal integrity, economics, real estate markets, creative strategies, government policy, cryptocurrency and the value of creating positive culture in business.
  • Show Notes
  • [00:42] Patrick introduces his next TEDM guest, Tom Karadza.
  • [02:11] Tom and Patrick get rolling and tom shares a bit about his background, doing all the “right” things (school, job, good income) only to end up feeling completely incongruent, like he was living in a nightmare of mediocrity.
  • [07:27] Tom’s entrepreneurial journey was to some degree influenced by both of his parents. His father immigrated to Canada as a refugee from Croatia and started his own construction company and real estate flipping business. His mother, a Scottish immigrant, thought differently than many people at that time which provided a more contrary experience for Tom and his brother Nick to perhaps have more discernment vs. following the sheep.
  • [11:45] Tom shares his brief history of being in the corporate world and how he exited. He goes on to the discuss the steps and missteps toward deciding to start a business with his brother, which through more reason less passion, became Rock Star Real Estate.
  • [17:30] Leading with that contrarian mindset, Tom and Nick set out to do things differently than the competition. Recognizing people would be at different stages of their real estate journey when they reached out to Rock Star, they would meet their clients where they were at. Offering education first, was a way to engage and ideally build a lifelong relationship with their clients.
  • [23:56] Though they’ve always been centred in the Greater Toronto Area by choice, Tom and Nick’s clients routinely asked for US properties and/or referrals, but they were never interested. A realtor in Florida who they know, like, and trust has evolved his business over the last year 15 years to now include a full service offering to the point where Tom and Nick feel comfortable handing off their clients. But they go along for the ride too! With regular educational trips to Florida they look at properties with their clients and are still alongside for support.
  • [26:10] Tom offers his perspective on the state of the world from economics to politics, wealth transfer and wealth preservation, real estate and cryptocurrency. Their own learnings over the past 8 years have unfolded to the point that Rock Star Real Estate has a more diversified educational offering for their clients.
  • [31:27] Patrick shares a funny story abut his early Bitcoin experience with Steffany, whose brother was an early adopter.
  • [34:59] Tom turns the table to inquire about the role meditation currently plays in Patrick’s life and the way in which he uses it.
  • [38:15] As a follow-up question, Tom asks Patrick for his thoughts on visualization and manifestation through meditation. Meditation is about tapping into consciousness, and we are all consciousness and energy. We must believe in possibility and opportunities WILL show up.
  • [42:45] The final of three questions: when a client relies solely on visualization and meditation to manifest opportunity, how does Patrick guide them to marry visualization with action? Patrick doesn’t actually work with people who rely only on visualization. He does explain that understanding our core and driving values is the foundational piece for us all.
  • [46:16] Tom expresses his eternal gratitude for his mother exposing him to meditation and a different way of thinking about things at such a young age. It has been a significant influence throughout his life.
  • [47:44] Patrick and Tom discuss the incredible influence of women in their son’s life – they are a direct role model of how to treat women and people overall – both favourably and unfavourably. Once again it goes back to values and personal integrity. The three principles Tom learned early on – always do the right thing, treat others as you would treat yourself and always give 110% – have defined the way he and Nick have run their business and have set that expectation for anyone who works with them.
  • [52:34] Culture. It is a fundamental exercise for business to identify values, what they will stand for and then not put up with and define the type of culture the team wants to build. Create the environment for it, set people up for success. Sometimes it happens accidentally but its still effective!
  • [56:15] The integrity conversation is always an interesting one and Patrick reminds us we can only ever be out of integrity with ourselves, nobody else. When we are true to our own values, we remain in integrity with ourselves. When we stray to adopt someone else’s, consciously or unconsciously, in any type of relationship, that’s where inevitably things are going to break down.
  • [60:10] REITs and direct property ownership. Tom weighs in on the value of each and when to utilize different strategies as a store of value.
  • [65:20] Tom offers his view of interest rates, the way they’re going and the narrative that government and media are currently setting up in Canada and the US.
  • [67:56] Patrick gives his perspective which is somewhat different, and he explains why. Patrick and Tom riff on possibilities for future government manoeuvres to put liquidity into the market if not lower interest rates.
  • [74:58] With a little extra time before his date night, Tom interviews the interviewer on more time! Patrick offers his thoughts on real estate prices in various regions of Canada over the next view years and the effects of political leadership and resources.
  • [78:36] The tried-and-true economic fundamentals are at somewhat of a disadvantage right now. Trying to use common sense in a nonsensical world makes it very difficult to strategize and play the next chess piece. Patricks’ advice is to look at the world of probabilities, diversify where you can, and hedge where you can. We’re not always going to get it right.
  • [81:05] Tom talks about the changing game of real estate investing. He shares an opportunity that he’s seeing in Toronto, as an example, for investors with some experience to repurpose a piece of property from single family to multiple unit buildings. Working the right strategy and adjusting it as needed for the current market environment continues to be the key to finding success in real estate investment.
  • [84:56] A change in zoning is proving to be advantageous overall for investors who have identified that gap in housing affordability and seek to be a creative solution.
  • [85:55] Time to mozy over to the rapid fire for a bit more insight into Tom! Android or Apple – neither! Guess what though – Patrick shares there is a new option; a memorable song; favourite movie; impactful books; room-desk-car; Patrick’s recent realization; message at the pearly gates.
  • [91:40] Tom’s gratitude.

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