Mathew Owens is a Certified Public Accountant, business advisor, real estate investor, and business owner. He is the CEO and owner of OCG Properties, a real estate company helping clients with an array of financial services. Owens currently specializes in lending capital to flippers and multifamily investors while helping investors invest in value add and cash flowing residential and multifamily real estate investments.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
My childhood was great! My dad was a CPA and my mom was an engineer, even though I got most of my monitory habits from my mom that saved $25k while she was in college. I followed in my dad’s footsteps and got a degree in economics with an emphasis in Accounting and went on to get my CPA license after college. The biggest thing that I can say that changed me was the passing of my father when I was 26 years old (he was only 56 years old) from skin cancer. It was the hardest thing I have had to deal with and losing my mentor and my crutch at such an early age made me extremely strong. It is what pushed me to get back up after taking a punch in the face after quitting my CPA firm job to go into real estate in 2006, right before one of the biggest real estates crashes I have seen in my lifetime. This experience coupled with losing everything during the crash made me extremely resilient and helped form my mind to have the ability to problem-solve and overcome future adversity in business. It also showed me what never giving up can do for you if you focus and learn to live with the ups and downs, which can be very difficult emotionally.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
Networking, networking, networking. When I was working at a CPA firm after college I wish I would have focused then on strategic relationships and networking with the right people. It’s extremely important who you hang out with and have relationships with. Not only do they change your mindset to think constantly about the right things through the right conversations but they can also have a massive amount of resources. Building wealth and investing in real estate is all about compiling resources and increasing your knowledge about strategy, investments, business, and a ton more. I didn’t understand this while working at a CPA firm where they wanted to pay me very minimal commissions to bring in new clients so the incentive wasn’t there to network more based on my mindset at the time. If I would have started earlier I would be much further ahead than I am even now. Making more of an effort at developing relationships with people that are better than you will significantly increase your chances of success.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
One piece of advice people give that I believe is wrong is that you need to flip and wholesale houses in order to gain enough cash to invest in buy and hold assets to create financial freedom for yourself. People do not realize you can skip the flipping and go directly into buying and hold assets as long as you can focus on the resources to do so. Do not have enough money to hold all the assets you want? Go learn how to raise the money and focus on capital relationships. Do not have the experience and the team to build your own portfolio and operate it? Focus on the relationships with people that have done it before and build your teams and get referrals from them. There are plenty of ways to do it. It’s just a matter of what resources you can bring to the table.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
The darkest period in my life other than my father’s passing was when the 2008 real estate market crash hit and I had to take $200k out on my credit cards (with a 790 credit score) to pay my investors back and then went down with the ship and lost everything. I had just bought a bunch of houses to flip right before the crash and none of the banks were lending for a period of time which caused me to have to liquidate at losses. My ego had me thinking I was some amazing investor because were flipping a bunch of properties and I had just quit my CPA firm a few years earlier. Needless to say, I was not experienced enough to see the left hook coming out of the left-field with a market crash to knock me down. I learned that I was not that amazing and had a ton to learn. I made my investors whole and then took the hit on the chin myself. This in turn, after everyone knew the market just crashed, gave my investors confidence to re-invest with me due to the trust they had for me after I took the losses myself. I did not let them take the hit just because I emotionally could not let my investors, friends, and family take the hit themselves. I learned a lot about raising capital during that time and how much respect to have for other people’s money. They have traded their time for that money and so if you lose it you are not taking away the money, you are taking away their time which they cannot get back. Always protect your investor’s money at all costs. After that experience, I started to really focus on economics and market volatility of course!
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
One of the biggest contributors to my success has been never giving up and facing my problems face on. It’s easy to put your head in the sand and give up. It’s not easy to focus on every problem as an opportunity and every time a new problem comes up, look at how to solve the problem and take consistent action forward. Sometimes it will be the wrong action, people make mistakes, do not beat yourself up about it, find a way to fix the problem and not dwell on it so you can go make more money. When you lose money, immediately being able to focus on the solution instead of dwelling on it can take your success to another level. It’s easy to let a problem emotionally hinder your ability to solve the problem and get in your own way. Clarity comes in the solution, not dwelling on the problem itself. When you really outline what the true probable outcome will be from any problem you realize most of your stress and fear comes from fears that will probably never materialize.
What is your morning routine?
I wake up around 6 am and stretch and meditate first thing to get my mind right and organize my day so that I know what primary goals I have for the day to accomplish. Either that or my 2-year-old daughter or 5-year-old son wake me up earlier crying or yelling for me to come to get them! Most of the time my plan for the day tends to overshoot what I can actually accomplish. Even though it leaves me wishing I had accomplished more, I get a ton more done than the average person just because of that mindset of pushing myself on what I believe is possible to accomplish that day. I will also typically get in some cardio in the morning and work out with weights in the afternoon. It’s important to take breaks, get outside and go on a walk to break up your day which rejuvenates your focus and gives you the energy to push through and accomplish more.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
One of the biggest habits I have that I think has significantly improved my life is the want to constantly improve myself. This is one of the biggest habits I have developed that really took my life to another level. Striving to learn more daily, become better at the things I want to improve on daily, and pushing myself. These daily things I want to improve on do not just revolve around business, many of them are personal items like meditating daily, working out, spending more time with my family and friends, etc. Its important to realize where true happiness can come from and a lot of that has to do with non-work-related goals. Listening to audio education, reading daily, and focusing on your goals consistently will slowly train your mind to be open to new ideas, new ways of doing things and new strategies to implement. Setting boundaries is hugely important as well, otherwise work can consume you and work is not the end goal, being free is.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I work off of a task list that is updated daily and has goals for the day, month, quarter, and year. I also push myself to stay away from tasks that I can train others to do. Focusing on training others, delegation, and not doing everything myself is the best way to stay efficient. Also having weekly training and meetings with everyone on your team to move them forward on their objectives, focusing on their goals, training them, and providing guidance are huge for time efficiency. Task lists are great, but unless you delegate tasks and have great people in place to help you with different aspects of your business you are always going to be self-employed. The most important thing for efficiency is setting up your business to run without you, otherwise, you will never be truly free.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
The best books I have read are Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kyosaki. Both books have had a profound impact on my mindset. Reading Rich Dad Poor Dad changed my perspective on how to make money. Instead of working for someone else as a CPA working at a CPA firm trading time for money, I would begin my focus on building assets that create money for you in perpetuity, whether I work for them in the future or not. You can create cash flow streams that once setup you do not have to work on them, what a concept. That book pushed me to quit my CPA firm job and I start working in real estate full time. Since then I have flipped over 1000 houses and currently flip 5+ per month, have a large buy and hold portfolio, operate multiple values add apartment strategy investments per year, and lend capital to flippers all across the country.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
You are going to laugh but my favorite quote is from 2Pac where he says, “I got advice from my father, all he told me was this, get off your ass if you plan to be rich.” This gives me motivation. Also, a quote from Kobe Bryant, “The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great at whatever they want to do.” Kobe’s quote hits home because if you go out and just look to help people in life and your business I believe it can be the key to happiness. It also comes with significant benefits. By helping people all of the resources you need for your business will come to you. Kobe has had a profound impact on my life because of the mamba mentality mindset and breaking through adversity which is so important in business.