Financial IndependenceJul 11, 2022
I don’t pretend to understand financial investing - but I fall into that category of wanting to BE financially independent. It represents freedom, on so many levels, to me.
When I first met Elisa Zhang, she was interviewing me. She wanted to share Intentional Optimism with her audience of investment minded entrepreneurs, and you know me, I’m always happy to talk! But throughout the conversation, I found myself drawn to her passion for creating financial literacy in a million people, and her EZ FI University - where she teaches one course, or one concept, to one person at a time.
Elisa is an Unconventional Leader in her own unique way - you should go hear it for yourself, how that passion comes through as she talks about what she does and how she got there. Check out our conversation: Episode 94: Financial Independence.
When I hear a woman speak with passion and authority on a topic the way Elisa does, I know she’s “all in.” She’s a leader in her field. The idea that you can start with nothing, make a decision, set a goal and become financially independent in the span of 5-7 years is RIGHT up my alley. This is the stuff Intentional Optimistic dreams are made of.
Don’t get me wrong, she’s not selling a dream. She’s selling financial literacy, which means she’s selling self-understanding and hard work. Elisa makes it very clear that you can start out with the information you have and make a move.
Elisa is willing to set big goals, set them with intentionality and head straight for them. In our conversation, she used the word “intentional” over and over. I thought I was intentional! From her growth mindset to how she shares her information and advice, there’s a method and purpose to everything she does that helps others understand, see the steps and follow.
Elisa’s leadership principle is: Lead by example - be willing to do the work.
It seems so simple, but how many of us really do it?
- Always take the short end of the stick.
- Always take the small room.
- Don’t leave undesirable things for someone else.
- Keep an open door policy.
You see, there are always fewer leaders than followers, but leaders tend to be more opinionated and vocal. When you, as the leader, are “eating last,” you can foster a culture where anyone can call a red flag. They need to feel safe - when they do, they will be engaged and the culture will grow.
Like many successful leaders, Elisa has some specific habits that keep her moving in the direction of her goals. I love cataloging these, and seeing how similar, or how different each guest is to the others - or to my own.
Elisa has a few that are common among my guests, and a few that I do.
- Morning intentional planning 5-10 minutes of journaling - I do this one, and it is so valuable to me. I use the time for both reflection on the day before and planning for the day ahead.
- Miracle morning meditation - my own adaptation of this one is a time of Bible reading and prayer.
- Plan your day - she keeps her morning clear through 10am. I have to say, this one is imperative for me. I actually block Monday and Friday, but it’s the same principle.
- At the end of each day, write down 3 wins - several of my guests do this one. I save them for the next morning, but the concept is the same.
Each of these things keep her on target each day, and ensure she’s living out her own principle of doing the work and setting the example for her team and her clients.
If you’ve listened to any of my conversations, you’ve heard me ask my guest for some Green Flags. We commonly talk about red flags, how to notice them, how we wish we’d seen them in a particular situation, and how to avoid missing them in the future.
I like to focus on Green Flags - traits, attitudes, mannerisms, proclivities and bents - how to notice them, and how to ensure you don’t miss them in the future. I’m surprised at how many of us are NOT practiced at this. We’re usually pretty good at giving advice, telling others what to do or how to do it, but many times, we don't think about what got us to where we are.
Every leader has been through the process of becoming aware of their inherent skills, strengths and personality traits that have enabled them to become an expert in their field, make big decisions or step into a leadership role. The next step is learning how to share that type of awareness to help others do the same.
Elisa’s desire to lead by example, however, gives her a heightened ability to share with you what to look for or cultivate in yourself in order to determine if a similar path to hers for achieving financial independence, is for you. If not, these are still good things to look for when contemplating any major path change. You see, when you match the skill set AND the personality to the job, you create excitement and motivation.
Green Flags: Is Real Estate Investing For You?
If you’ve contemplated it at all, do the research to determine if you really want to do it. Elisa literally does the work because she ENJOYS it! If you know what it’s like to get into a job or career, and realize you don’t like it at all, then you know how important these things are to consider.
Here are some real estate investing-specific questions you can ask:
- Are you interested in real estate?
- Are you a saver?
- What kind of down payment do you have?
- Are you an investor or landlord?
These are only a few things to consider, but some of the most important.
Elisa’s Advice for Moving Toward Financial Independence
1. Start with a self assessment to see where you really are.
This is pretty standard when you desire to start something new. You need to set a baseline and know what you know, what you don’t know, and where you can get the answers. Taking this step will give you answers to many of the questions from the Green Flag section. How easy it is, to view an opportunity (especially one that can truly generate a lot of income) through the proverbial rose colored glasses. I “famously” did this with the idea that I wanted to become an Interior Designer.
2. Always invest in education.
Whether it’s formal education, online or even workshops, knowledge is power. Always. In an industry like investing, new information is coming online every day. Stock market movement, interest rate fluctuation and the general state of the economy all affect how you approach investments and the best places to spend your cash.
3. Know what you want.
Elisa shared that the tipping point for her entry into the real estate investing market was the birth of her first child. Her priorities shifted, and her perspective changed. Her big motivation to become financially independent was to be present with her daughter, but now her mission takes it a step further - to bring financial literacy to those who rent the properties she owns. This is keeping her hands open to those who need her help. She KNOWS what she wants. Do you?
Do you have that vision of where you want to be, and what you want to do? Elisa is very clear about her own vision, which is to share financial literacy with a million people! As a leader, she’s painting a picture for her team and her clients, so they know where they need to go. That’s visionary leadership, and it takes courage to share it with anyone you hope to lead.
Elisa’s level of respect in her organization, the company she is building includes modeling respect for others, modeling the receiving of feedback, which creates a beautiful loop. When you can create a respect loop in an organization, you’re leading with wisdom.
Does Elisa’s story inspire you? If you want a primer on investing (passive or otherwise), hit up her IG feed or YouTube channel. It’s full of video after video of simply explained real estate investment concepts and general financial information - as timely as “what do I invest in when inflation is this high?” Most are only 5 minutes long!
Elisa’s mission is to be able to share financial literacy with a million people. My mission is to empower YOU, to take control of your future, as the leader you are created to be. I want to create Unconventional Leaders who step away from cultural expectations, think critically, create imaginatively & lead effectively - no matter the size of your team or organization.
Let’s do this!
You can hear Elisa's story here: Episode 94: Financial Independence.
Where to find Elisa Zhang: EZ FI University
Owner/principal of $450M in holdings across 3000+ apartment units, has remained fully involved in the multifamily investing world throughout the pandemic and has never stopped finding deals that will benefit her investors. After successfully building a path to financial independence for herself in less than 10 years and transitioning out of her full time IT career she made it her mission to help motivated nine-to-fivers do the same. Elisa is deeply passionate about teaching those who want to quit their jobs how to do so using the power and infinite opportunity of real estate investing through her course offerings at EZ FI University and on her podcast, 10,000 Roads to Financial Independence.
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