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Hello and welcome to the Thoughtful Realtor Podcast. I'm Cliff Tsang.
And I am Kenny Gong.
And I'm Connie Chung.
And we're the founders and partners of Willowmar Real Estate. This is a show for those interested and invested in the world of residential real estate. Every episode we sit down for insights, stories, and conversations about all things in the real estate market today, running a real estate team in California and finding our way as leaders and business partners.
In today's episode we're talking about our past selves. We're diving into the topic of, what would you say to yourself or your younger self and what advice and tutelage and guidance would you give to that younger Cliff or younger Kenny or younger Connie? What would you say to that person if they appeared in front of you today?
Let's start with you, Kenny. What was young Kenny like?
I would tell my younger self to allow yourself to dream, and allow yourself to try new things and allow yourself just to do things that felt joyous and different and new. Even if it felt challenging to just go ahead and try. And I think that was because I felt so much insecurity when I was younger, about failing. And there wasn't as much conversation about failing fast and like, “you gotta fail”. Like that just wasn't as prevalent as it was as it is now.
And so I wish it was because I think it's totally true. Failing fast and failing as many times as you can is a really, really good thing. And I would try, yeah, I would try new things. There were moments that I felt very proud of myself as a younger person because I did dream and I did try new things.
In hindsight or at the time?
In hindsight. So I had always grown up wanting to be somehow involved in food. I loved cooking shows. I spent all of my Saturday nights or Saturday mornings watching cooking shows on PBS. And I always just wanted to be around food. And it wasn't until I was in my mid twenties when I just said, I'm just gonna do it. And so I became a baker and it started out at a pie shop. I would roll so, so, so much dough. And I would make these huge balls of dough.
How big are we talking?
We're talking about like 25 pounds.
There's a shout out to Three Babes too.
Shout out to Three Babes. And shout out to Andytown. I was on their baking production team for a few months. And even though it didn't work out and I was only doing it for a few months, it really became a pivotal moment in my life and it demonstrated that there can be so much joy in just giving yourself permission to dream and try new things.
And so I would say to my younger self, do that more. And it'll be okay if you try new things and it doesn't work out, that's totally fine. Just try it and then you'll know.
I love that. Yeah. It's funny because it's cliche but it's just so true. And I also sometimes think maybe in this conversation, some of the things that we're gonna share to our younger selves when we were maybe in our twenties or earlier, it's still applicable. Like it'll be applicable to our current selves because we are a younger version of our future selves, kind of crazy to think about.
Cliff, what about you?
I was really excited for this episode because I knew that we would all have very different perspectives and different snippets to share and really good insights to share as well. So mine, one of them was to work hard and really hard. And to not be afraid to work. I know that there's a lot of talk about work life balance. And, and for me, I think in my twenties, I didn't really know what I wanted. And I think if you think that work and career gives folks joy and meaning in lives I think a large part of that can only be found by trying things and working really hard.
And I think when I look back at my twenties, I feel like I worked hard and I don't really have many regrets about that. And I think if I could go back to my inner self… I think at the time I had questions of, am I working too hard? What is this all for? And in hindsight it's like, there was a meaning for all that. And I am glad that I worked hard and it kind of laid the foundation for my future self, I guess present day Cliff. So that's one thing that I would share. What about you, Con?
Similarly, in the lines of working hard, dreaming big, the first thought came to mind was, okay, I think I'm talking to my 9 year old self, 9, 10 year old self. And I would say to fail as much as you can. That part, that failure is part of the process and the success.
And this came to mind because I was trying to teach Mia recently to rollerskate, and the first thing I said to her, because she was so afraid of falling and very hesitant… I said, no, you wanna fall, fall as much as you can. And plus she had all the gear of all her pads. Knee pads, shoulder pads, all these pads. Well, not shoulder pads, but she might as well have.
And yeah, I thought, wow, as a kid you're so afraid of falling. But no – it's because the more times you fall, you get back up. And that's what teaches you to be brave and that it's not gonna be so bad because you'll just keep getting up. You'll learn to have grit and to persevere and just to keep on going. And I know as a kid, and even to this day, I think I associate so much with, okay, well I don't wanna do it unless it's gonna be perfect. But no, you, you gotta mess up. You gotta fail. And you'll just get right back up.
And the more you do it as a kid, I hope that it becomes second nature to know it's okay to try new things. I might not get it right the first time and it's okay. And so another part of that kind of, “fail as much as you can”, to normalize a failure. Because I think for me, I associate a lot of failure with, okay, what are people gonna think of me? But if my younger self knew that's normal, who cares what other people think? Then I would hope that what other people think matters less.
And also failing gets hard. Does it get harder to fail as an adult? Like the older we get, it feels like it, because the stakes are higher. And it also feels like the older that you get, you're not supposed to fail. Like there's this thing of like, you're supposed to know how to be older, wiser, you should know how to do this.
Yeah. You're younger. You break a bone, that bone will grow back. When you're older, you break something… who knows if it's gonna come back?
But that's also the wonderful thing about so many of these fails, or so many of these trying new things. They could be physical, but there are a lot of times they're just mental, right? Like, how do you try things out emotionally? Whether it's in your relationships, whether it's in how you show up for the world… Those are all things that I think are also really, really important to try out, to work your way through.
With failure, the thing that I have a hard time wrapping my head around is, it's interesting because when you observe someone else fail or try hard and not succeed, I typically associate really positive words with that person. Perseverance, grit. You have a lot of admiration for it. But it's ironic that when it's for yourself, you're super self-conscious and it's hard to break through that. Even when it's turned around, you actually appreciate seeing that in other people.
It's such a weird mind paradox or just so confusing how the mind works like that. I'm sure there's like an evolutionary reason for that but it's just weird to think through.
Yeah. Like we put ourselves down for failing…
But others, you lift them up.
Yeah. That's so true.
There is that saying of, treat yourself how you would treat your friend. If your friend told you a story of, oh, I did this, I messed up. And you're like, well, at least you gave it a try. It's hard to give us ourselves that grace sometimes.
So, alright, here's my next one. Maybe more practical advice coming from me. If I could go back in time to my younger self, these are words that I wish I heeded… My grandmother, my parents had always kind of nudged me, kind of elbowed me and said, Hey, you should be thinking about this more. Which is to invest early. What a surprise that I'd be talking a little bit about investing on this podcast.
I'm gonna add that to my list.
Pop quiz maybe for the audience and also for Connie and Kenny. I always love talking about this example. Which is if you had a penny on day one and it doubled, every single day. By day 30, how much would it be worth? So day one, one penny. Day two, it's 2 cents. Day three, it's 4 cents. Day four, it's 8 cents until you get to day 30. Any thoughts?
I just know that's compounding. Is it $30?
No. I think it's like $700.
Oh, $700. Okay. The answer is really shocking. On day 30, it's 5 million dollars.
It's astonishing. The moral of it is kind of like the human brain can't fathom compounding. Our brains can't even calculate it. And the funny thing about that is when you look at a grid, it's like you really only start to see some really large sum of money on the 28th or 29th day. If a month only had 20 days, it'd be like, oh, that's not that much. I think it'd be like $5,000.
And then the other thing that people always share is like Warren Buffet, he's considered the greatest investors of all time. One of the richest men. 90% of his wealth was generated after he turned 65. If he retired when he was 65, like most people do, maybe, probably, there's a chance that Warren Buffet wouldn't be a household name. We wouldn't even know who this person is.
So a long way of saying if I could go back in time I wish I had known of these stories and I actually didn't really think about it. But even socking away a little bit in your twenties can really make a big difference. And you don't need to adjust your lifestyle dramatically, but just having that mindset of how can I invest and put away a little bit more? It was just not on my radar 10, 15 years ago.
10, 15 years of lost investment.
So I think that to me is similar in the way that the tiny steps that you make along the way can have a big impact. And whether it's investing or in getting a project done, any single goal that we have or any single project that we have, can be accomplished by moving the needle. One tiny fraction, incremental step after another.
And I think that's the biggest lesson because it reminds me of that. Things don't happen necessarily in life through huge action or huge steps. A lot of times sometimes it does require a leap of faith, like an initial leap of faith. But moving towards actually creating something bigger, more impactful, more significant is often through tiny, tiny little steps.
And there was a very random example that I have, which was at the beginning of 2022, I had a goal of organizing all of my papers. So, you know, as business owners, as real estate agents, we deal with a lot of paper. Especially once you're starting a company, there's just a lot of documentation about everything. Statements of everything and forms that you have to fill.
And I've been so bad that I've been putting everything into a cardboard box for 2022 that is labeled papers. Not even “2022”. Yes, just “papers”. That's all it says. Papers. And my goal at the beginning of 2022 was to organize all those papers and. It felt like the more time passed, the more papers went into this giant heap of a pile, it became so overwhelming that I had no clue what to do with it. Like it was so daunting.
But this past winter when we had a little bit of time, I just said to myself like, just take out one piece of paper and figure out what to do with it. And then take out another piece of paper and figure out what to do with it. And so we had a break. I got some file folders and I just started taking each single piece of paper and dealing with that one single piece of paper at a time and figuring out where it needed to go, and then organizing it. And kind of then, Categories started to shape and an organization system started to form.
And it's still not fully there, it's still not fully organized, but it's much more organized than it was. And it just required me to literally take out a single piece of paper at a time, and now I do not have a cardboard box (of papers). It's cleared. And of course, because in my head it was this gargantuan task, but when I started to take it piece by piece, paper by paper…
I mean I organized that thing in like a day, you know what I mean? Two days, whatever it was. But just that mentality shift of like, this overwhelming thing you can just do by thinking step by step was really impactful. So, these are lessons that I'm learning in real time.
When you paused there, I wasn't sure where you're going with it. A day is quick or two days is quick. I thought you were gonna be like, I organized it in a month.
Oh, no, no, no. It was fast.
Well, I bet even just telling yourself, okay, I'm just gonna do one piece of paper. But that you're doing that one spirals into, okay, well I might as well do the next three, four, five, and then you're halfway through.
Another thought I would tell my younger self is everyone is just as insecure as you are and has their own S-H-I-T that they're dealing with. Especially when it comes to family, or that there are just family dynamics that everyone is navigating.
I remember growing up, I come from a big family, there's six kids, and just always thinking my family was crazy. And not talking about it. And it wasn't until I got older, maybe college, that I shared more about my family dynamics to friends and realized, wow, okay, everyone has some relative that is a little off, or drama, and that that's also normal. But growing up it was not normalized.
I thought I had to be this perfect person from a perfect family. So now my younger self, I would say it's okay to talk about it. Everyone has a dysfunctional family. That's why the dysfunctional family shows today are so great because I don't think we had that growing up and it just normalizes everything.
And it's a reminder that everyone is dealing with their own thing in their head, and that's normal. I think what helps is talking about it, sharing with others to know you're not alone. And same with family dynamics.
Everyone's got insecurities.
Everyone's got an insecurity. And so once you acknowledge and accept that you can move on with your life and, and do the thing you wanna do, or talk to the person you wanna talk to. Show up however you wanna show up. Puts away that mental weight that you're carrying.
You can let it go.
You can let it go. Any others? Cliff, do you want to share one last one?
Oh yeah, I have one last one. Actually, maybe I'll share two quick ones because I had an adjustment. So one, I recently heard this which I thought was kind of insightful. It's if you're rushing to somewhere, it implies that you think you're not gonna get there on time. Because otherwise you wouldn't be rushing. I think that's true.
I need to think about this a little bit more, but I think that makes sense. Shout out to Jason Drees, who mentioned this. And so that's one I think I feel like in my twenties. And still to this day, I feel like I'm rushing to get to a destination. And I think it comes from a place of insecurity, of thinking I need to get there faster because... and I don't know what that "because" is, but it definitely prevents me from being more present, stopping to smell the roses and all of that. But there's an element of rush in my life that I'm trying to quell.
Ooh. I can relate to that. Is it a reminder to enjoy the journey in addition to the destination for you?
Yeah. Yeah. That's all wrapped up into it as well. Then the second one is a Tony Robbins quote that I've tried to really take to heart over the last couple years, which is, “proximity is power”. You hear him say that lot. Proximity is power. The people that you surround yourself with, the energy that you surround yourself with, that being close mentally, physically, close to most people of what you're trying to achieve will help you get there.
You know, there's kind of the joke, the adage of like, hey, if you want to get a six pack, if that's your goal, well, the best way is to hang out with five people with a six pack. Or, hey, if you're trying to lose 10 pounds or whatever the goal is, if you wanna do XYZ, hang out around five people who are doing that. And slowly their habits will kind of ingrain into how you act in your daily life.
And so that's something that I'm trying to take to heart and I wish I knew in my twenties. Because I don't think I thought about it in that sense. I always thought, hey, I need to (do this), on my own willpower through, XYZ, and get there on my own. Versus thinking, how can I actually have a group that supports me for whatever endeavor it is in your life?
It's interesting to think about how surrounding yourself with people who are doing the things that you wanna do, normalizes those behaviors. And that's the most important part because if you're doing something that feels different or contrary to the people around you, it's inherently going to feel a little bit more uncomfortable.
You are gonna feel less motivation to stick with it because it feels so different than everyone else around you is doing. But if you have people that are doing all of that same thing or like building all of those same habits or have established already those same habits, then–
You'll feel weird if you're not doing it almost right? Yeah. That's a great point.
Yeah, I love that. I would add to that because it's a good reminder for myself. So many of these tips are good practice for today's living. I would say to feel qualified to be in that group or to feel worthy…Because so many times I will get emails asking for help or to chat and I'm always willing to share my knowledge. But then I am scared to ask people I aspire to be like or learn from because I'll think that they're too good for me.
Yeah. I feel like there's a quote that's like, if you are the smartest person in the room, go to a different room. And I think that that also really plays well with this, right? Because what you're also trying to do is reach beyond where you currently are. You are the average of the five people around you.
So it's similar to proximity is power. It's almost like, you wanna make sure that there's always someone who's better than you or is more skillful than you are. And also people who are less skillful than you are that you can kind of bring up as well. And making sure that really drives how you show up for people, for life, and how you surround yourselves with certain kinds of people.
Such great lessons. I'm taking notes.
Ooh. I have one – that is let go. In addition to letting go, it's moving on as quickly as possible. Because I think I have spent so much of my life overthinking and spiraling and worrying, and it has prevented me from moving forward and doing things that I wanna do. Because I was just thinking about things, so much worrying. I just worry so, so, so much. And worrying takes time. Worrying takes energy. And I think that that's something that I would really, really say is as much as you can, move on as quickly as possible, in so many ways.
That's a great one. All such great tips.
Do you wanna close it out?
Sure. And that's it for this episode of The Thoughtful Realtor. You can find us on Instagram at willowmar__ or willowmar.com. And if you haven't already, hit that subscribe button and leave us a review. We really do read each of your comments, so please share the love, share with friends, family, anyone who might enjoy this episode.
And would love to also hear your comments on what are some of your tips or guidance that you'd give to your younger self. Feel free to comment below and let's keep this dialogue going. For the Thoughtful Realtor podcast, I'm Cliff Tsang.
I'm Kenny Gong.
And I'm Connie Chung.
Until next time,
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