In this episode, Stacy sits down with Lane Kawaoka, an engineer and the creator of SimplePassiveCashflow.com, which is an online learning resource that focuses on passive real estate investing. The two discuss what steps Lane has taken in becoming an entrepreneur, and in launching his own, successful group coaching and e-course business.

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Website: simplepassivecashflow.com
Facebook: SimplePassiveCashFlow
Twitter: SimplepassiveCF
Instagram: simplepassivecashflow
Pinterest: SimplePassiveCF

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Transcript For This Episode:

Stacy Jones (00:01):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). I’m Stacy Jones, the founder of influencer marketing and branded content agency, Hollywood Branded. This podcast provides brand marketers a learning platform for topics for us to share their insights and knowledge on topics which make a direct impact on your business today. While it is impossible to be well versed on every topic and strategy that can improve bottom line results, my goal is to help you avoid making costly mistakes of time, energy, or money, whether you are doing a DIY approach or hiring an expert to help. Let’s begin today’s discussion.Speaker 2 (00:31):
Welcome to Marketing mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). Here’s your host, Stacy Jones.

Stacy Jones (00:36):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). I’m Stacy Jones. I’m so happy to be here with you all today. And I want to give a very warm welcome to Lane Kawaoka. Lane started his venture in new real estate investing in 2009 by purchasing a rental property in Seattle, after living on the road for five years as a construction supervisor. Frustrated by the traditional wealth building dogma, Lane was compelled to inspire and mentor other working professionals on how to do real estate investing and build their own portfolios, which led Lane to develop simplepassivecashflow.com. Online learning resource and passive real estate investing that includes blogs, podcasts, and eBooks.

Stacy Jones (01:12):
Today we’re going to talk about the steps Lane has taken to create his own successful group coach and eCourse business around investing in real estate as a side business, while still employed at his day job as an engineer. Lane’s going to share with us the insights he’s learned from his own experience in becoming a successful entrepreneur on the side. And we’ll learn what’s worked from his perspective in launching your own business, what should be avoided, and how some people miss the mark. Lane, thanks so much for being here, welcome.

Lane Kawaoka (01:36):
Hey, thanks for having me, Stacey. [crosstalk 00:01:39] Aloha.

Stacy Jones (01:39):
Aloha. You are in Hawaii. And what part of Hawaii are you helming from?

Lane Kawaoka (01:46):
I am in the Island of Oahu. And for those of you guys know Honolulu, that’s the city I live in currently. So, the one with Diamond Head and a lot of the good restaurants, and Waikiki.

Stacy Jones (02:00):
Very nice. So, what got you off the road into investing and now over to Hawaii? How did you get here? What was your path?

Lane Kawaoka (02:10):
Yeah. I bought a rental property, rented it out and it was a lot of beer money at the time for a young, 20 year old kid. And I was a construction supervisor at the time. For those of us who have had other corporate lives before the path we’re on today can totally relate but I’m an engineer by trade. But it’s a hard life, right? Working for 40 years at a job and I didn’t like it right off the bat.

Lane Kawaoka (02:41):
So I found this little cool thing where I could buy rental property and just kept buying more and more of it. All my buddies were asking me how was I buying all these properties in Birmingham, Atlanta? Places I don’t even visit, and buy it, and get a tenant in there and have them pay me rent checks every single month? And I’m sure we all have friends like this that mean well but they don’t do anything, right?

Lane Kawaoka (03:11):
So that was where I just started the podcast back in 2016 as just a means to record my thoughts. And a lot of it, I’ve thought I’ve forgotten over the years but that was the start of it, all, is building the audience first.

Stacy Jones (03:27):
And so you started your podcast, you’re sharing it with friends. How did you get, to get other people to start tuning in and listening. How did you market what you were doing?

Lane Kawaoka (03:37):
I just created a Facebook community. You guys are welcome to join. We talk about investing all day and it’s high quality. So, I think a lot of people just started to share it and just a word of mouth. Initially, I think you see what a lot of people do is, they’ll just slam it all on social media and it takes a lot of time, especially if you’re not paying for a virtual assistant to do that for you. I don’t know if it’s quite even worth it. But I just made over a hundred episodes before I really started to get traction. And at that point, it took off on its own.

Stacy Jones (04:16):
And then in your Facebook group, were you moderating it? Were you having people ask you questions? How were you getting people to interact with it? Because a lot of people start Facebook groups, honestly, and they go nowhere.

Lane Kawaoka (04:28):
Right. I think the thing I did differently, I did moderate it, I did filter things, for sure. But I made it more of a niche type of group where we are passive real estate investors. And that’s something different about my brand. I don’t do any wholesaling or flipping. A lot of it, like I said, is for broke people. I work with high paid professionals and entrepreneurs that have pretty good money coming in from their day jobs or the businesses. And they just want to place it somewhere where they can get the tax benefits. So that’s my brand. And so, I kept it that way and I filtered people coming in. I only let people in that if you had a pretty good, decent paying job. If you are a 30 year old guy taking a selfie, you weren’t going to get in. You’re unprofessional, you didn’t look the part and had a net worth of under a hundred thousand bucks, you weren’t getting in. So, I think people caught on to that and they knew it was something different. And then I think that was where it started to attract the right type of people.

Stacy Jones (05:35):
And then were you participating on a daily basis on the forum or were you just seeing where questions were and responding to it?

Lane Kawaoka (05:42):
Yeah. I usually get in there at least once a day. I’m not a big social media fan and I think people spend too much time in there. But I’ll get in there once a day and answer all the comments and see what people are posting. And then probably a couple times a week, I’ll post some news article that I see and just do a little bit of stimulating the community, as I call it.

Stacy Jones (06:09):
And then beyond the Facebook group and beyond the podcast and you have launched it into being much more. What was this [inaudible 00:06:17] that you took after that? You have a website, you have coaching, you have all of these different elements.

Lane Kawaoka (06:25):
Yeah, I spun off two parts of my business. One side is the education side. The other side is, I actually do deals and I bring in investors through the website and podcasts. So that side, I’ll go and I’ll search for large apartment deals or mobile home parks. And people that contact me through the website can join my investor club and they can invest via me and alongside of me because I put my own skin in the game, I’m usually putting 25, $50 grand at least, into every deal of my own money. And then the other side is my education side, which I have a mastermind of passive investors. Again, you don’t get in unless you’re of the right pedigree. And it’s a select group of people in there. We do biweekly conference calls via Zoom. And I make everybody sign confidentiality agreements because a lot of people are talking about their personal financial information and it gives me an avenue to speak my mind. Because a lot of things you can’t really say on a podcast. It’s not appropriate.

Stacy Jones (07:39):
It’s a little public sometimes.

Lane Kawaoka (07:41):
A little public. Sometimes you hurt some people’s feelings and you shouldn’t be said … When it was the Bambi rule, right? Don’t say something, if you don’t have anything to say.

Stacy Jones (07:50):
Yeah.

Lane Kawaoka (07:50):
All right, well that doesn’t apply in my mastermind, it’s my rules. And people like that, they want to hear the raw stuff. They want to know what not to invest in and whether there are secret deals out there. So that’s that group I’ve cultivated in there and they are both little … I think I’m [inaudible 00:08:07] for me. And more importantly, it’s given me the ability to quit my day job. Because initially when I started the mastermind group, I was just running home right after work and jumping on the biweekly conference call. And we’re like, “All right, what are we talking about today?” But it’s given me the income to be able to quit my day job and focus on how do I add value to these people?

Stacy Jones (08:31):
That’s awesome. And then with the educator side, you have the mastermind, you’re also producing additional content, you’re blogging, what are you doing to making sure that for the mastermind or to help publicize, and market, and advertise this side of your business? Because obviously it’s all a lead gen for your other side of your business.

Lane Kawaoka (08:53):
Right? Right. And so basically I’m just a content creating machine. I just write articles. Again, I’m an engineer, so I don’t really write too well. It doesn’t really resemble English a lot of times. So that’s why I did the podcast thing. And in my private Facebook group, I’ll do live calls where I just ask answer questions. And we chop those up those videos up into more short, breadcrumb type of material. Because the idea is people are going through Facebook feed, they’re going through at a million miles an hour. There needs to be something quick, some value add. And every email that I do, I send out to my list. Or any kind of video or any article. It always like, “Well what? This guy doesn’t care. They’re a busy, high paid professional, what’s in it for them?” So it always seems to be less than one minute video seemed to do the trick for our purposes.

Stacy Jones (09:52):
And are there any other things you do that try to bring in people through inbound marketing or is it all mainly through social and word of mouth?

Lane Kawaoka (10:02):
So far referrals have helped us a lot because especially our qualified person that we’re looking for is higher net worth. They’re not typically just trolling on the internet for a lot of forms. A lot of my guys, to go to the local real estate club is some of the worst places for them to go. The people who go there, they don’t have that much money and they’re hearing that real estate is a great place to get rich, which is not quite what we do. We have pretty good net worth that we’re able to invest a little bit differently. So those have been typically the places where I haven’t really gone to find folks to bring to our tribe. Referrals have been the big one. And then people just coming through the podcast because podcasts are typically where higher net worth folks are around and take action.

Stacy Jones (10:59):
And do you find that there’s a certain age range that you’re more so working with? Or is it pretty broad?

Lane Kawaoka (11:06):
It’s pretty broad. I look like I’m 18 years old, so definitely the younger guys are attracted to me, but definitely on-

Stacy Jones (11:17):
You look 23. Come on, at least 23.

Lane Kawaoka (11:20):
At least 23. But I do attract a lot of your San Fran, your tech money, the younger guys. And these are the guys working at Amazon was starting pay of $150 grand a year, if you guys haven’t caught on to what they’re paying these kids out of college these days.

Stacy Jones (11:38):
It’s amazing.

Lane Kawaoka (11:40):
And because my background is engineer and I kind of speak in terms of engineering, I think that’s what’s attracting a lot of folks as opposed to men and women. I have both men and women, but obviously things are, this is more of financial stuff and just more guys seem to be more into this type of stuff. But also I have quite a bit of people who are over the age of 45, 50. These are the guys who have $500 million stuck in their 401K and not doing anything. And they’re looking to buy hard assets. So those it’s kind of a both ends.

Stacy Jones (12:18):
Well as soon as after COVID-19 calms down and things return to normal after so many people’s stocks took plunges, real estate is probably going to be something that more people are even investing in. For the- [crosstalk 00:12:32]

Lane Kawaoka (12:32):
Yeah. This is kind of a pretty good time for us. Any time there’s a decrease in the stock market, shakes people’s belief system up. And to me, I got rid of all my 401K stuff years ago. I see Wall Street as a game, the average person can’t beat, just a bunch of commissions up there.

Stacy Jones (12:55):
It’s nice that someone’s making money off of your money, right?

Lane Kawaoka (12:58):
Yeah. People were all concerned. A lot of our investors were concerned these past couple of weeks. Because their stock portfolio dropped 30%. Yeah. And I was like, “Well, I’ll be honest. There’s really nothing really to report here.” That’s what’s nice about real estate, especially when it cashflows, it’s not really much … It’s going to take a while for the slack to hit the back of the back of the train.

Stacy Jones (13:24):
Right. There’ll be a downturn eventually. And if the last [inaudible 00:13:28] day is significant and people can’t afford mortgages and rent, and that’s when you’re going to start seeing an impact in your business, but that’s going a little bit of time versus just a couple of months.

Lane Kawaoka (13:40):
Right. Right. But to bring it back from the marketing and sales angle, right?

Stacy Jones (13:43):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lane Kawaoka (13:43):
People buy when there’s emotion involved. Right?

Stacy Jones (13:46):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lane Kawaoka (13:46):
There’s a pain point. Not that it’s that great of a thing to do, but look, hopefully this has woken people up that the stock market is all fake and it can just disappear like that. Granted it’s a, we call them Black Swan events. We got hit by the COVID-19 and well, more importantly, I think it’s the oil and gas, the Saudis and the Russians doing little price wars here. I mean, crude should not be 20, $30 a barrel.

Stacy Jones (14:18):
Right.

Lane Kawaoka (14:18):
But that’s where we’re at today.

Stacy Jones (14:22):
Yeah. All this too shall change with time. Hopefully.

Lane Kawaoka (14:26):
And things will change. We don’t need to know that to be certain.

Stacy Jones (14:29):
Yes. So is there anything else that you’ve been doing that helps with your marketing message? Is it just that and belief, this is such a passion project for you, that you dug in and you started sharing your interest and your advice and it just grew from there?

Lane Kawaoka (14:47):
Yeah. I think it is. I asked a lot of my investors who are financially free, what is their biggest, what pisses them off in the world? Right.

Stacy Jones (14:56):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lane Kawaoka (14:57):
Because that’s usually some kind of a passion project there. For me I just see so many hard working professionals making 80 to $400,000 a year, yet they’re never really able to spend the time with their family. And they’re always just trading time for dollars. And the reason why is they’re investing in these investments from the financial planners, and Wall Street, mutual funds, that you’re never really going to get ahead with doing that stuff. It’s what the system wants you to do. So I think that that passion translates to my audience and they see that I’m very … At the end of the day, I just want to help.

Lane Kawaoka (15:34):
You don’t have to invest in me, you can invest whatever you want, but here are some principles that the wealthy follow that I distill. And I think the people see the authentic side of it. I talk about my failures. The example I give a lot of times it’s Thor from the Avengers. He wasn’t a really a relatable character in the first two Thor movies. I guess some people like the fact that he took off his shirt a few times, I’m not too much into that, but it wasn’t like … He’s the only Avenger or any of those guys that got four movies or will get four movies because I saw him an End Game, he’s fat Thor. He’s likable. He has his flaws. And that’s just how I am. I tell it how it is. I tell people how I … I have videos of somebody ransacked my house for a 10, $20,000 repair bill. That’s what happens. That’s the life of the investor.

Stacy Jones (16:35):
You bring some humanity to what you’re doing. That’s the difference. Yeah.

Lane Kawaoka (16:39):
Right. Right. And when somebody wants to bring money into a deal, they want to know that they’re investing with somebody legit at the end of the day. Capital preservation or not getting swindled is more important than, well, what’s the percentage chance that this deal will actually hit its performer.

Stacy Jones (16:58):
Right. So the fear of losing is actually [inaudible 00:17:03] than the fear gaining in this.

Lane Kawaoka (17:05):
Right. Right. And that’s how I am. You know?

Stacy Jones (17:07):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lane Kawaoka (17:07):
it’s more about people than what the deal is. I want reliability, I want capital preservation.

Stacy Jones (17:14):
So if our listeners want to learn more about how they can do investments and they can look into real estate, obviously you have quite the platform, where can they go to learn more?

Lane Kawaoka (17:24):
Yep. People come in, usually on two tracks, if their net worth is under a quarter million dollars, you probably want to start off with single family home rentals. There are folks out there that will fix up properties for you, get a tenant in there, and they call these turnkey rentals. My first dozen podcasts were all about that. And I think that’s why my audience really likes my journey. Because they can see the progression. The first year was talking about turnkey rentals, but then obviously my story has changed to more private placements and syndications. And that’s what I’ve been up to the last few years, and bring my audience on that journey as I learn it myself. Those are bigger deals. You don’t have to be accredited, but most of our investors are accredited investors, $1 million in net worth and above.

Stacy Jones (18:15):
Okay. And so they can go to simplepassivecashflow.com.

Lane Kawaoka (18:20):
Yeah. Go simplepassivecashflow.com. My email address is [email protected] If you guys are interested in learning more, but, yeah. Check out the podcasts and yeah, feel free to join our Facebook community and meet some other passive investors there.

Stacy Jones (18:34):
Awesome. And if you had to give insight and advice to someone who has a passion project and they want to grow it into being a business for themselves and to share their insights, what advice would you give?

Lane Kawaoka (18:50):
I’d say do it for at least 18 months. And that’s the BS check to see that it is truly a passion project because like anything it’s not until you hit season three, as they call it, or for me, I was doing the podcast in 2016. I didn’t really start to really get traction until mid 2018, two and a half years down the road. So unless you are passionate about it, you’re really not going to get, number one, get good at it. And more importantly, you’re not going to follow through on it.

Stacy Jones (19:20):
That makes sense. So is there a book in your future? Are you going to publish and put all your thoughts, even though you don’t like writing, but transcribing all the podcasts?

Lane Kawaoka (19:30):
Probably. I’ll probably just pay someone to do it like everybody else.

Stacy Jones (19:36):
It sounds like you have something that people would be interested in buying and reading.

Lane Kawaoka (19:40):
Yeah.

Stacy Jones (19:41):
Cool. Well, Lane, I want to really thank you for coming on the show today. I think it’s very cool. I’m actually very piqued into learning more about this myself. So I’ll be checking out your website and diving in, but thank you for spending your time with us today, and talking about how you’ve created such a success.

Lane Kawaoka (19:59):
Thanks for having me, Stacy.

Stacy Jones (20:01):
You are welcome and to all of our listeners, thank you for tuning into Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). And I look forward to chatting with you this next week.

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