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Justin Donald | Building Passive Wealth to Create the Lifestyle you Desire

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On this episode of Investing for Freedom, Mike speaks to Justin Donald. Justin has just written a new book – The Lifestyle Investor: The 10 Commandments of Cashflow Investing for Passive Income and Financial Freedom, and gives some amazing advice on how you can better focus your time to get your priorities straight. Enjoy!


Entrepreneur Magazine calls Justin Donald the “Warren Buffett of Lifestyle Investing.” He’s a master of low-risk cash flow investing, specializing in simplifying complex financial strategies, structuring deals, and disciplined investment systems that consistently produce profitable results. His ethos is to “create wealth without creating a job.”

In the span of 21 months, and before his 40th birthday, Justin’s investments drove enough passive income for both he and his wife Jennifer to leave their jobs. Following his simple investment system and 10 Commandments of Lifestyle Investing, Justin negotiated deals with over 100 companies, multiplied his net worth to over eight figures, and maintained a family-centric lifestyle in less than 2 years. Just 2 years later, he doubled his net worth again.

He now consults and advises entrepreneurs and executives on lifestyle investing. Justin is the author of The Lifestyle Investor: The 10 Commandments of Cash Flow Investing for Passive Income and Financial Freedom and host of his podcast The Lifestyle Investor. Both feature his lessons and proven investment system that consistently produces repeatable returns.

Justin is a lifelong leader and trainer with a track record of achievement. In his 20s, he worked with Cutco/Vector and quickly became one of the top managers in the company, and one of the youngest to achieve Hall of Fame status. His personal playbook of best practices was deployed nationwide as a training program to onboard sales representatives.

While in this role, Justin began investing heavily in real estate and owns several profitable real estate related businesses, a large portfolio of multifamily rentals, OrangeTheory Fitness franchises, and several other successful operating companies. His entrepreneurial ventures include IFM Restoration, a residential maintenance and rehab company founded in 2016. IFM recently funded its Series A with S3 Ventures, the largest venture capital firm in Texas, leading the round.

Justin is a member of Tiger 21 and a board member of Front Row Foundation International. He and Jennifer contribute to various causes privately and through their church, fighting cancer, building clean water wells in third-world countries and other humanitarian efforts. Additionally, they sponsor multiple children through Compassion International. The Donalds are based in Austin, Texas, and love adventure-based international travel with their beloved daughter.


Company:  Lifestyle Investor
Podcast:  The Lifestyle Investor
Book:  The Lifestyle Investor: The 10 Commandments of Cash Flow Investing for Passive Income and Financial Freedom
IG handle: @justindonald
Twitter: @jwdonald1


0:00 – Intro and information about Justin’s book
1:30 – Mike talks about how he was aligned with Justin
3:20 – Justin begins to talk about his new book The Lifestyle Investor: The 10 Commandments of Cashflow Investing for Passive Income and Financial Freedom
4:17 – Justin talks about who has had the biggest impact on his life
6:25 – Justin tells us that his peer group has had the greatest impact on his success
8:08 – Justin believes that strong relationships can’t exist without vulnerability
10:04 – A lot of go-getters live in a reactive state, and Justin is guilty of this in the past
11:38 – Justin discusses what his greatest setback was and what he learned from it
18:14 – Justin shares the piece of advice he finds himself sharing the most
21:20 – Mike asks what shifted Justin’s mindset to actually prioritize his family
23:30 – Justin talks about how he managess his days and worked out which areas to focus on that made him the most money
25:33 – Using people on your team who actually enjoy that work can be very beneficial
29:23 – Mike asks Justin about how you can have intense conversations at work but you go home and shut that off
31:32 – Justin gives some tips on how to have meaningful conversations with family
35:18 – Mike talks about how everyone he speaks to describes Justin as a great person, before talking about how he is a great investor
41:37 – Mike asks Justin to talk about something he’s thinking through right now
44:00 – Justin goes into detail about his new book


Mike Ayala: We are here with another amazing episode of Investing for Freedom and it’s Monday. And I know that you’re used to having, you know, me here alone on Monday, and hopefully you guys enjoy that, but today we’re going to do something a little different. I’ve got a guest on the podcast today. His name’s Justin Donald, and we’re going to launch the show today on Monday because he’s got an amazing book that I can promise you is going to change the way you think about life and investing and just the things that you can accomplish. And he’s such an inspiration. I just wanted to make sure that we got this episode to you in time for the launch of his book, because it’s just going to be an amazing book. It’s going to be an amazing episode. I think you’re going to be inspired by it. So hopefully you’re not too mad at me by mixing up the order of the episodes but enjoy. And go ahead and give me some feedback. Hope you like it. It’s funny. Cause I think success leaves clues and life does as well. And I’ve learned to pay attention when the universe or God or whatever you want to call it for me, is God is trying to align somebody with me for reasons that are not always clear. And you know, sometimes it is clear sometimes it’s for you sometimes it’s for them. But I had a guest on his name was Hahnz Box. I think he was actually episode 43 and he actually connected me with Justin. And then recently I was at a Front Row Dads event and there’s Justin in the room. And so, when I look back at life, you usually see that like there’s theses pathways and you end up meeting, somebody wants twice, three times. And then just hearing his story and hearing what he does. I think you guys are really going to enjoy this. One of my favorite things in his bio, he said his ethos is to create wealth without creating a job. And that just resonated with me so much. And I’ll just cover this really quick. So, entrepreneur magazine actually called Justin Donald, the Warren buffet of lifestyle investing. You guys are going to love this. He’s a master of low risk cashflow investing, specializing in simplifying complex financial strategies, structuring deals and disciplined investment systems that consistently produce profitable results. I’ve had several people mentioned Justin to me asked me if I’d ever met him and everybody speaks so highly. And again, when you just look at that his ethos is to create wealth without creating a job. I think you guys are in for a treat. So, Justin, I appreciate you being on the show.

Justin Donald: Well, thanks Mike, it’s great to be here. Thanks for the kind words, I really appreciate them. And you know, I’m just thrilled to spend time with you and your audience and just get a chance to hang out.

Mike Ayala: You know usually we’ll talk about this stuff at the end, but Justin has a book coming out and so, you know, stay tuned and hear everything he’s got going on, but this book is going to be amazing. So, what’s the title of the book?

Justin Donald: So, the title is called the lifestyle investor and the subtitles, the 10 commandments of cashflow investing for passive income and financial freedom. And basically, it is my 10 criteria that I use to make my decisions on investing. So, if something matches up to this criterion, then I know that I can make a good, calculated decision on it. And if it doesn’t, it makes it a lot easier to pass on it. And so, I just have found having some form of criteria so that it’s an on emotional investment is one of the keys, one of the very most foundational keys to being successful in the investment space.

Mike Ayala: Wow I love it. And so, guys, you got to just make sure you get your hands on this book. It will be launching after the show or right around the time. But anyway, make sure you get your hands on that. So just to, let’s dive into the four questions, this is going to lead us into some great conversation. I know it already. So, who’s had the greatest impact on your life?

Justin Donald: You know, it’s interesting. I feel like I could go in so many different directions. You know, how do you pick one person? I feel like there are times in life where there are different people. I mean, my dad played a significant role in my world, just from the standpoint of teaching me what work ethic was and goal setting and, you know, just doing whatever it took to get the job done. And so, from a young age, I would definitely say my dad but later on in life, when I was seeking a skillset that my dad didn’t have, and there was no one around me that I knew well that had that skillset I moved on to authors and Robert Kiyosaki happened to be one of my greatest mentors, whether he knows it or not. And I read every single book the guy wrote and just, I mean, he just blew me away with well, rich dad poor dad, I thought was an Epic book, but in cashflow quadrant may have been the single most impactful professionally game-changing and probably personally and professionally game-changing book I ever read.

Mike Ayala: That’s so interesting. Cause I’ve read rich dad so many times, but I’m with you on the cashflow quadrant and what I love about it. And I’ve actually mentioned this a few times. It’s weird how like your frame of reference and how you look at things and even people when you’re having conversations with people, like it’s almost like a personality test. Like I start to frame life through the cashflow quadrant. It’s really weird. So, it’s cool.

Justin Donald: I agree so much. And it’s funny because in different stages of life, you know, you don’t consider any of this stuff and then you read it and it’s like, you know, it’s that whole thing, when you buy car, you see everyone else that has that car. It’s almost like you just can’t go through life the same way because you’re looking out a different lens and that lens really directs you in, you know, even if it’s a one-degree different direction. For me, it was probably, you know, 50-degree different direction, but even one degree, it’s a massive difference in trajectory.

Mike Ayala: Wow. That’s amazing. That’s cool. If you could narrow it down to one thing that has had the greatest impact on your success, what would that be?

Justin Donald: Ooh, great question. I would say for me, probably it would be peer group, peer group over just about anything. You know, if I look at, you know, intrinsic qualities, values, it’d be really easy to say, you know, my, my work ethic because I’ll work so hard until I figure out whatever it is that I need to figure out. I’m really determined in that regard. But if I didn’t have an unbelievable peer group that influenced the way that I thought top down, I think that I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am today because I would just be, you know, my goals would be smaller. My understanding of opportunities would be less, you know, just from the actual standpoint of getting wisdom from experts. You know, I wouldn’t have that. So, to me, it’s about who you spend time with and the challenging ways that you can push each other to be better men or women or parents, or you know, spouses. And then in this particular instance, you know, better investors and business owners and entrepreneurs to be able to create more freedom and buy your time back.

Mike Ayala: That’s so powerful. I agree with that a hundred percent. Do you find yourself sometimes like even the Front Row Dads event, like I came back from that and getting vulnerable, I think is super important in that too? And I think a lot of people shy away from that because, you know, they don’t want to do the deep work and they’re scared of what’s going to come up. So, what’s that experience been like for you?

Justin Donald: So, I think when people tend to be in a surrounding where there’s a vulnerability happening, one, it’s easier to do it, but two it’s never easy the first time or to be the first person. But I really believe deep down that like strength in relationships can’t exist without it. There’s only so much depth you can have in a relationship by being surface level and not getting to the real, like meat and potatoes and the heart of what is going on. And when I say the heart, like even your heart, like what is going on in your heart? And so, to me, you can’t have the quality of relationships, which means you can’t have the quality of life that you want. Cause I think quality of life equals quality of relationships. You can’t have the quality of relationship or the quality of life if you don’t have vulnerability and you’re willing to open enough to expose the good, the bad and the ugly.

Mike Ayala: You know, I think that’s such a crucial point. I was just talking to a couple, that’s going through counseling and rightly so they, you know, they need to align, but when you get in an environment like you’re talking about a peer, like when you said even within your own heart, I found so many times when I’m around peers and people like you that challenge me. A lot of that work is brought out just from working within. And I’m not saying that we don’t need third-party counselors and outside stuff, but if you just go into communities and around peers that are going to challenge you, a lot of that stuff works out naturally. Like you start seeing the holes. I came back from that Front Row Dads event, like as, nobody had to point to me where my weaknesses are as a husband, that stuff comes up and it’s in there. We’re just not in environments where we really, you know, like you said, look within our heart and really see what’s going on. And so, I love that, I’m going to camp on that cause that peer group over anything is, that’s an amazing answer.

Justin Donald: It’s unreal. And you know, the other thing that I think about is, you know, for a lot of us that are like hard charged, hardworking successful, goal oriented, maybe even on the alpha side of things or the go getter side of things. I think a lot of us live in a place where we are reacting to the world. We’re reacting to problems; we’re reacting to circumstances. And as long as you’re in a reactive state, then you’re not really proactively planning. So, it’s hard to get clear on what it is you want and who you are and how do you improve if you don’t give yourself the space to think, and I’ve been there, like I’m guilty of this, just as much as you know, anyone else. And it has really taken a lot of intentionality to carve out time in my week. So, in my week, every week I have something called think time. And I literally just, I don’t have electronic sign. This is just time with me and my own thoughts and a journal. And I just have some of the biggest revelations, but that’s where I can be proactive. That’s where nothing gets, nothing penetrates to create a reaction from me. It’s me designing my life intentionally with my family first and other important relationships right after that.

Mike Ayala: So much value. We could go home now and that would be a win man. That’s so good. Think time, I love that. We’ll probably circle back to that if we don’t run out of time. What was your greatest setback and what did you learn from it?

Justin Donald: Well, I’ve had a number of setbacks in business, you know, so if you look at like running an organization, I’ve had setbacks from the standpoint of, I hired too quickly. I didn’t have the cash to scale. Things fell apart in the most important time where you really needed it to succeed. So, I’ve had all those experiences. So, you know, I could easily go down the path of entrepreneurship, but I think I could also easily go down the path of investing. And so, you know, today, you know, I spend my time investing. That’s really what I am by trade as an investor. And I love it. I think it’s great, but my very first investment was horrible, and I didn’t follow the advice that I should have followed. I invested in a home that it was a condo in a midrise building in Lincoln park on the top floor. And it was expensive. It was maybe more expensive than I should have done. It was also in the peak of housing before the crash. And I immediately upon buying it, had an opportunity to take a promotion and I moved out of state. And so, I literally only own this home for like two, two and a half months. And I moved, I had renters that didn’t cover the mortgage. So, I was negative cashflow. I had an inexpensive homeowners association you know, dues every month. And then I had two roommates at the time when I moved in, I bought it because I was going to have a roommate. And then I moved out and two roommates moved in and it’s different when you’re trying to cashflow a property based on two roommates, excluding what it was that I was just accounting for, for rent. And so, I bought this place for me, but it turned into a rental and that shouldn’t have been the way that I did it. I probably should have just sold it right away, except that prices crashed. I was upside down. I ended up getting one renter in, that one renter still didn’t cover it, but I got a little bit closer. I had a catastrophe with the roof leaking. Since I was the top unit, it leaked in, ruined my ceilings, ruined my walls, my floor, and threw some crazy loophole. The homeowners association didn’t cover it. My insurance didn’t cover it. And like, it’s just the craziest thing. Anyway, ended up having to pay out of cost and all that, sold it at a loss. Literally had negative cashflow every single month I owned it for over three years.

Mike Ayala: You know, it’s interesting because I’m laughing. I’m not laughing at you and you’re chuckling too, but what I’m sitting here thinking as I’m hearing this, and I appreciate you being vulnerable because when I think a lot of times when, when people look at a successful investor like you, they just think that, you know, you’d never made any mistakes. And that’s what I love about, you know, having these types of conversations, because I think so many people are scared to move into their true giftings and directions they know they need to go and that’s not always quitting your job or what, you know, there’s very successful people that are W2 people their entire life, and that’s fine, but I think people are scared of failure. And when I talk to guys like you, and this is the whole purpose behind my show is bringing on successful people to encourage our listeners, that they have to step out there and make these moves. And I don’t love that that happened to you, but I love that you picked yourself up and you kept going through it. And it’s people like you that kept moving and went through it. Well, first got started. Cause I think that’s the big thing. So many people are gripped by fear and you’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to fail, but you just got to surround yourself as best as possible with the peer group like you’re talking about, mentors you know, you’ve got a book coming out, that’s probably going to teach us a ton around this stuff, mitigate the risk. But there’s always going to be risk and there’s always going to be failure. And that’s where we learn. So, I appreciate you being open and vulnerable about that.

Justin Donald: Yeah, sure. And really for me, I believe that the majority of the learning actually happens in the failures and in the negative outcomes, as long as you’re looking for those answers in those solutions. I mean, we can look at it and say, Hey, I’m a victim. Look at me. You know, look how bad my life is. Can you believe this situation happened to me? Or you can say, wow, I’m so glad I learned this now today so that when I make more money or I have a greater net worth, I don’t make the same mistake. And it’s going to keep me out of the place of buying condos as rentals. So, I mean, some people have maybe had success with it. I’m sure people have had success with it, but for me, it steered me away from that. And I’ve never done it since, and I’ve done so much better in my rental portfolio because of it. And so, you know, in the moment it was really painful, and I did lose money, but that loss, I mean, I would have never learned it as well if I didn’t have skin in the game and that loss has easily made me you know, an exponentially larger return having had it than if I didn’t.

Mike Ayala: That’s so good. I don’t want to take a lot of time on this, but even like my first mobile home park deal we bought it and I think we closed in July. And then all of a sudden, October, November, we started getting these phone calls. Like everybody’s water was frozen and I’m like, what the heck? Well, the guy that had owned, it had buried a whole bunch of hoses. Like he’d have broken water lines and he’d dig it up and he’d connect a garden hose. And then he’d just bury it like six inches deep. And there was like, no way to catch that. Like in due diligence, like that’s just one of those things that like, how do you know that these garden hoses are buried six inches deep? It’s mitigating the risk though. But I learned a powerful lesson during that time that, you know, the question is how do you mitigate that? How would I ever know that it was buried six inches deep? Well, maybe asking some questions, but also, you know, just mitigating that and making sure that we’ve got enough reserves in there is a big part of it. And I would have never learned that lesson if that hadn’t happened to me.

Justin Donald: That’s right. And then you and forever moving forward, you buy properties at a better price or you attempt to buy them at a better price, but no matter what, you have more in capital reserves for instances like this, where most of the time that doesn’t happen and you don’t need them, but they’re there just in case.

Mike Ayala: And then asking the residents currently during due diligence, Hey, is there a bunch of garden hoses buried around here? That’s cool. So, what is the piece of advice you find yourself sharing the most?

Justin Donald: People ask me all the time; how did I move from earned income to passive income? What did I do to create, you know, freedom and agency and autonomy in my life? And really, it’s simple. I became intentional with finding ways to earn income that didn’t require my time. And that’s it, you know, for a lot of my life, my time produced my income. And luckily, I was able to find some niche jobs and opportunities where I was compensated more for harder work or better results. And in the beginning when I didn’t know any better, I just poured hours into whatever it was so that I could earn more income. Later on, I started figuring out how to build systems. So that way it wasn’t based on just me. I could leverage a software; I could leverage other protocols. I could leverage people. And other, you know, people that have different talents than I do. And then eventually I realized I could just leverage capital. And so, it was kind of like this progression where for me, you know, I was working for myself and I was, but I was earning money for others, myself too, but others. And then I kind of graduated and started you know, working for my own business. And you know that way I was earning money for me, not for someone else. But then what I like best is kind of the next phase above that, which is investing in businesses or in assets and having that income produce what I live on. So that way I don’t have earned income. And that way I can be in the lowest tax brackets and my time is completely independent of anything. I can spend my time doing it; however, I want to do life. And what happens is I spend my time in my passions and my passions happen to be my family and investing and sports and relationships and travel.

Mike Ayala: I love that right there. Like your passions have to be, you know, not have to be your passions are family, time, travel. I think inherently, most of us have those same desires and passions. We just don’t really know there’s this constant battle. And, you know, we say that our family is our priority. We say that family time is a priority, but then maybe our actions don’t match that. And I’ve seen that with you just in the little amount of time that I’ve, I mean, even when we first connected you were on a big trip and you’ve got a lot of stuff going on. And I think a lot of times people think that when they see someone like you, that lives their passions and keeps their family a priority that they’re just not doing anything. And that’s not the case, right? Like it’s being intentional around keeping those priorities. And I’ve seen people argue for their limiting beliefs, argue for why they’re working 90, 100 hours a week for their family. So, when did this shift for you?

Justin Donald: Well, it’s interesting. A lot of its self-serving right? So, you might work a lot of hours. I worked a lot of hours and I could justify that it was for my family, but if I asked my wife, she’d say, no, it’s not for your family. We’re doing just fine. You could work less hours. You’re doing it for you. You’re doing it for ego. You’re doing it for significance. You’re doing it because maybe that’s the easier default. It’s easier to put in time to a business that you know a lot about than it is to put it into your family where you don’t know as much about it. You’re not necessarily as you know, you haven’t built up 10 years or 10,000 hours of expertise because every single year the relationships change, and your kids get older. And so, it’s kind of new. And so that was a real wakeup call where I was like, okay, well, I don’t want my family to feel like leftovers. I don’t want to get home from work where I’m exhausted. And I spent all my energy at work, and I show up, but I don’t have any energy for them. So luckily, I’ve got a wife that is super loving, but willing to speak truth to me and not let me buy the lie that I told myself for a long time. And you know, so from there, it, it really was just kind of recognizing that, I don’t need to be working that hard and would I be creating a better life if I worked less, even if I earned less. Coincidentally, what ended up happening is I worked less. I figured out what was more of a priority. So, I spent more time on those things. I ended up earning more in less time, but it was like I had to be able to get there first. I had to recognize that the way it was working just wasn’t sustainable and it wasn’t healthy for the family.

Mike Ayala: Do you think that just on that conversation of earning more when you spent less time, is that because you focused in on like what truly mattered and you’re, I mean, I guess just not necessarily just your values, but your core giftings and eliminated a bunch of other things you started saying no to things, or what was the secret to that?

Justin Donald: Yeah, so basically, I had to defy me, so we started doing family dinners, like very early on. And so, I used to work in the evenings, and I got to a point where I didn’t. I was like, oh my goodness, how am I going to squeeze all this in, in such a short day? And so, I worked really hard at figuring out what is the highest income-generating activities that I did. So, what’s the, you know, what’s the 20% of work that I do that produces 80% of the results Freightos principle. And I literally, like, I looked at every function that I was doing, every area I spent time, and then I actually assessed the dollar amount to it based on the output. So, this is $20 an hour work. This is $50 an hour. This is $500 an hour. This is a $1,000 an hour. And so, it got really clear, okay. Here’s where I need to be spending my time. I actually can’t believe I’m spending all my time in, or not all my time, but more time than I realized in minimum wage work or you know, above slightly above minimum wage work, let’s call it, you know, the $10 to $25 an hour work. And so, I just immediately outsourced at all. And I got really clear that I needed an executive assistant, which that was easy to justify that expense. Today’s day and age, we’ve got vas, I’ve got three different VA’s that I use that I love. And so, I just want to outsource anything. That’s not a top income-producing thing that’s just going to waste my time, that someone else can do just as well, if not better take great joy in and I can help them earn a living.

Mike Ayala: It’s interesting how much time we spend on things that truly frustrate us in or not that, you know, 20% of activity that produces 80% of the results. And I found as I’m working through this journey, like literally a lot of this stuff is frustrating and if you really just lean into it and you can figure out how to leverage and outsource that stuff and give it, I love what you said, somebody that actually enjoys doing those activities. We can’t imagine in our head, the things that we don’t love doing, that somebody could actually love that. It’s mind-boggling to me, but when you figure that out, it’s super-exponential. I love it.

Justin Donald: Oh, that’s a game-changer. When you bring people on your team that are just strong in the areas you’re not, I mean, for me, I’ve got no desire to be detail-oriented. I can be if I have to be, but it takes a lot of energy. I’m probably detail-oriented only because I want to accomplish something. Not because I’m by default detail-oriented. And so, when I hire people are detail-oriented, man, do they ever just make everything more seamless than I’ve got, you know, my main director of operations for all of our real estate, you know, I brought her on, and our business went through the roof and that’s because she’s better at all this stuff than I ever was at all this stuff. And now I don’t even spend any time doing it. And she does it great. She takes great pride and joy in doing it. And she just compliments me so well because she innovates in a way that I never innovated.

Mike Ayala: This is so counterintuitive, I think to people too, because what I’m hearing you say, like there’s no ego in you. And I think a lot of times there’s ego, even in the workforce. And I think some of our culture has promoted this, but we’re always trying to prove ourselves, right? We’re always trying to progress to the next level and become a better, you know, executive or become a better team leader or whatever it is. And by the way, that’s all good. And we should do that, but there’s a lot of ego in that progression, if you will. And what I’m hearing you say, like, I think some of the best leaders and people like you that have really found, I mean, look at this amazing stuff that you found. I mean, I just, I love, I love the ethos to create wealth without creating a job. Like most people want more work. They want to feel more and that’s egocentric, right? And I’m hearing you say the opposite. You hired an operations director that took your business to a whole other level. There’s no ego in that.

Justin Donald: The goal really is to not be the bottleneck in anything. I mean, significance can drive you where you’ve walked around and you feel like you’re really important in this, my business, but that doesn’t work. I mean, people, they want it, like if you can dish out the credit and say, Hey, we have growth. And it’s because of you, you know, the role that you play is massive. I may have a small role in that because I was smart enough to hire you, right. But you’re the one doing all the magic. People appreciate that. And that creates retention and ego really stifles a business because you could hire a bunch of people to do the stuff that you do, and they could do it 80% as well as you in every category. But if there are five different people doing at 80% as good as you would have done. That’s better than if you had done all five things at a hundred percent, you know, cause you’re not actually going to do it at a hundred percent. You think you’re doing it better, but you know, in the grand scheme of things, you’re not.

Mike Ayala: That’s so true. That’s so much value, man. I want to circle back to something that you said you know, the 8,000 hours, the 10,000 hours being an expert in us defaulting to, you know, what we’re comfortable with, like work, for instance, that’s what you were talking about. And it’s interesting, even just being at the Front Row Dads event thinking through engaging conversations, like when we get to work, we’re really good at, you know, sitting around board tables and strategizing and having amazing conversations with our teams. And it’s almost second nature. You know, and I don’t know if it’s because the school system and we’ve been trained through all that, but then we get home, and this isn’t just for the men. Although I think like I just look at my wife and she’s natural when it comes, you know, with the kids, having deep conversation, facilitating that. But it’s weird when we shift as men to that role at the dinner table. And everybody’s just quiet. But yet, if you just look backwards to what you said to two or three hours before that we were having these intense, engaging, you know, question sessions with our team and trying to rally the troops and then we get home and we’re just shut off. Can you speak to that a little more? Cause that was just enlightening.

Justin Donald: Yeah. So, I just didn’t want to be the guy that showed up and gave my family the leftovers. I just, I was sick of being that person. And I had enough excuses. I mean, it was really easy for me to justify how busy I was and how we’re in a busy season. It’s not always going to be like this, but it is right now. And just, I mean, every excuse in the book Mike I had, and, in my mind, I justified it to be okay. But the reality is the only way to get good at this stuff is by practice. And so, I needed to show up. I also needed to be the leader of our family. That shouldn’t be something that falls on my wife. I want her as a co-pilot. But I don’t want to rely on her to steer the ship. I think that I should steer the ship. And at times we should steer it together at times she should steer it, but the default shouldn’t fall on her. We need to do this as a team and I want to utilize her wisdom as well, you know, so but if I’m not putting into practice, if I’m not practicing what I preach. It’s interesting because I could go to work and I could be this hero there and it feels so good, but I come home and I maybe feel ill-equipped and I don’t feel like a hero, you know, maybe I feel like a victim or maybe I feel like you know, a villain is sometimes where it’s like, I got to lay the hammer down. And really, it’s because I didn’t strengthen that muscle and I just don’t want to be there. I want to be at least competent, if not great at the things that are most important and matter most in my life.

Mike Ayala: That’s so good. Like I just heard you say like, you know, you don’t want to go from a hero at work to a zero at home. Like that’s, I’m blown away. So, I’m going to put you on the spot. Is there, you know, as we’re becoming experts and we’re getting that 10,000 hours, you know, in our job and every, like what would you encourage people just give us a few pointers, even around maybe conscious questioning or something like, how do we become, how do we start becoming an expert at having meaningful conversations with our family, if we’re not currently doing that?

Justin Donald: Well, I think at first just starts out with making a plan, getting into some think time, getting some journaling space where you can be proactive and just plan out what it is you want to do. It is something my wife and I do every year is we have this family planning session. That’s a one-day session and we do this while our daughter’s at school. We have a babysitter pick her up, we’ll do this all day. We’ll go to a really cool coffee shop. We’ll you know, have a nice meal, we’ll celebrate with a nice dinner, but we actually plan out what we want to accomplish. What do we want to accomplish together as couples, what do we want to accomplish individually, who are important in our life that we want to be intentional spending time with? So, you know, I’ve got my top 10, she’s got her top 10, and then we’ve got the couples that are really important for us because you know, some of her friends, maybe I’m not as close to the husband or some of my friends, she may not be as close to the wife and you know, and, or vice versa. And so, there are couples where w you know, the four of us just are really in sync. And so, we want to be intentional strengthening those relationships. Then part of that is education for us, for our daughter. You know, what a school look like, are we happy with it? How are conversations going in the family? And so, it’s creating the space to then have a family meeting once a week where everyone discusses important topics that are going on. Having family dinners. So that’s a regular thing for quality time with good questions. And so, to me, it really just starts with having a plan, being intentional, you know, having your spouse on board, if you have a spouse. And if you don’t, you’re just, you know, or if you have a spouse that maybe isn’t into this thing, it’s just taking the lead and doing it yourself.

Mike Ayala: That’s so good. I love it. I didn’t realize we were going to get into such a meaningful conversation around family, but shifting gears on you a little bit, the book in your whole premise of lifestyle investing, I should have known we were going to be digging into this because that’s really like you can be successful and have a great family at the same time. And I’ve often thought over the years, there’s a scripture in the Bible that says, you know, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but to lose his soul. And I’ve always repositioned that in my mind, you know, I was working 90-100 hours a week when my wife was pregnant with our third child. My W2 job, I was 23 years old, running a huge $3 million project, which was huge for me at that point. And I just looked, and this is not the life that I signed up for. Like, I was going to be the dad that was going to be present and I missed like an entire pregnancy. And so back to that scripture, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but to lose his soul that shifted in my mind and the way that I heard it was like, what does it profit me to gain the whole world, but lose my family, like that’s everything to me. And I believe at our core when we really, and I said this earlier, but when we really think about it, I think anybody on here can resonate with that. I think we all have the same desires and drive. It is about our peer group. It is about our family. It is about the relationships we have in life. What else is there? You can’t have a relationship with a car, but you figured it out and I’m like hats off to you, man. So, I should have known that this conversation was going to go this route. And I think this is going to be really inspiring for our audience, because I’ve never, everybody that I’ve ever talked to about. You just has the highest things to say about you. And it’s not always necessarily like he’s, Oh, he’s the best investor in the world. I’m sure you are. But it’s what a good person you are. And this is such a mindset shift. And so, I honor you for that. And I’m really excited to read the book.

Justin Donald: Well, you know, I appreciate the kind words. I mean, just in full transparency. I mean, I battle with the struggles every day of you know, work still trying to pull me away from family. So, it’s not like you just show up and then you’ve accomplished it and game over. There’s always this tendency to want to do the things that you’re good at, even at the expense of the things that you’re not good at, that you even know and love better such as your family. So, to me, it’s a regular intentional type of mindset and decision around it. So, I think that that’s really an important point to make because I mess up, you know, sometimes I do make the wrong choice and I pick work, or you know, I don’t get my family the time that they need or that they crave. But what I have found though is when you get to a place where finances are taken care of, you’ve got enough passive income you’ve got financial independence. When you get to that place. It’s not about doing work for money. Like today. My goal isn’t to make more money, right. Like I may make more money and that’s fine. And the more that I have, the more I’m happy to, you know, also be able to help other people, too, friends, family, just, you know, charities, whatever it is. But the goal isn’t to make more money. The goal is actually to do the things that I love to do, and to spend my time in a way that really serves my family and myself, the bats. And so, once you get past the point of doing things for making money, ironically, you tend to make more money from my experience, even though that’s not the goal.

Mike Ayala: That’s so good, man. I love it. I want to circle back because I think this is valuable. So, the think time, can we dig on that a little bit? Because I’ve heard this a couple of times in the last couple of years and I spend time meditating, but I’ve kind of shifted to think. I’m not saying that I don’t meditate, but I remember back like even a year and a half ago, like, I’d get into meditating and we’re just supposed to be quiet.  But then my brain would start solving like these big, like good problems. And I’m like, Nope, shut up, shut up. We’re meditating. And so, I kind of shifted my mindset to allowing me to move into that think time. So, I would love to just get your, tell me about think time.

Justin Donald: Yeah. So, here’s the thing, I’m a big copycat. All right. Most of the good stuff I do, I did not come up with it myself. Someone else is doing it and it worked for them. And I said, if it can work for them, it can work for me. And so that really, I feel like most of my success is just because I got really good at modeling other people. That’s it. Maybe once I really had it down, I could innovate from there, but not in the beginning. And so, think time is a concept that I took from Keith Cunningham. I went to a Tony Robbins event and met Keith and he just had this huge impact on me. Tony Robbins has had a huge impact on me. I’ve been to every single program that taught that that Tony has created. And I’m just thrilled with everything that he’s taught me over the years, but Keith showed up and I had a chance to spend some time with him. And man, did he ever blow my mind with this concept of think time? And I had never done that before. I had never given myself the space to like, not be reacting, to just actually not allow anything to get in my world to react to. It was weird. And when I first started think time, I was just doing it for an hour a week and it was really hard because I would sit there and I’d be like, what do I think about? And nothing’s coming to mind, what am I doing? Is this a waste of time? I mean, wow, this is horrible. I mean, and then, you know, you kind of build a muscle to it and then eventually an hour hits and you’re like, Oh man, my time’s up. And so, I had to extend it out. But it’s really interesting. Like I started writing questions that I would ponder during that time to help fill that space. So now I don’t really have to do that, but for a while I had to like to get into my place. That is where I can get in the state of allowing my brain to think, because what I wanted was to have the realizations and revelations I have like in the shower, right. When your brain goes into feta, you’re doing just normal mundane tasks. And because you’ve done it, you know, thousands of times your brain just kind of wanders and you start thinking about things and I’m sure, you know, many of the listeners, I’m sure you as well, Mike, you’ve had these great ah-has and epiphany’s in the shower. I have, I mean, I just had one yesterday. I come out of the shower. I’m like, I need like a notebook while I’m in the shower or something, you know? But that’s cause you’re allowing your brain that place to really go. And it’s called scientifically, it’s called beta. And that’s the brainwave where you’re able to create and think and process and plan. And so, my goal is to be intentional and put myself into that state with regularity. I want that every single week. And I really believe that that helps me be a better leader, a better leader inside my family, inside my businesses and you know, a good support to my friends and those that I serve.

Mike Ayala: You know, and you were talking about being reactive and moving out of that. We need our peer groups, and we need to get in the environments like we talked about with Front Row Dads and, you know, searching the heart and all of that. But I believe, you know, when you just were talking through that, we have so many of the answers that we need in life that are within us. And we just never tap into that and creating, getting into that theta state or, you know, creating a, I think a lot of people would sit back and they would say, Tony Robbins, woo. Like Justin, you know, this think, what’s meditation, and really, it’s just connecting. It’s finding those hard issues. And I’m so glad that you allowed us to go there with the thinking time, because I think people have more answers in them than they really give themselves credit for and creating this space or a container where you can go dig into your own wisdom, I think is extremely important. So, I appreciate you for that. Can you give us something you’re thinking through currently?

Justin Donald: Yeah. Well, I mean, I always have interesting deals on the table, so I’m always thinking through, you know, do I want to invest in this? If so, what structure do I want to invest? Is this a deal I want to bring to my investors club or my mastermind, or is this one I want to do myself? So, I mean, that’s kind of like the low hanging fruit to make an easy you know, something easy to throw out there to you. You know, to answer that question. I mean, if we really want to go deep, I mean, I’m just always questioning, like, why am I here on earth and what is my mission and how do I serve best? And you know, part of my time, you know, I have quiet time in the morning where, you know, I spend it in prayer, I spend it in meditation, I spend it in, you know, journaling and devotions. And I want to know that I’m here serving for a greater purpose or calling than just my happiness. And so, you know, that is an aspect of when I think about, you know, life as it is, and, you know, creating just this exciting world that I live in. I know that it’s bigger and more important than that. And I know that the end, our goal is not to find joy and happiness. It’s actually to serve others and to love others well, and to be in relationship with others and, you know, basically share grace with others when they mess up and to admit when you mess up, but to just ultimately be in a good relationship where you love people so well that they feel uplifted.

Mike Ayala: I’m blown away, man. You know, just the prompt in itself, like, why am I really here? There’s a five-part formula and this question has changed my life. What do I really want? And I’ve emphasized really, because sometimes what we think we want and what we actually really want are two different things. And so that’s something that I’m constantly rewriting, journaling around. So yeah, I think this is so powerful to thinking time, well, I’m going to turn this over to you. We’ve pulled back the curtain, amazing conversation. I don’t know why anybody wouldn’t want to read your book. I’m excited for that to come out. I’m going to turn it over to you. What do you want us to know about the book? What do you want us to know about your investing club? Any of the above, take us where you want to take us?

Justin Donald: Sure. Well, yeah, I appreciate you asking you know, and Mike, for me, this is, you know, this is a passion project that I’ve had on my list of things that I wanted to write a book. I didn’t know exactly what it was going to be. I figured it’d probably be somewhere in the realm of investing and financial freedom and buying your time back. And I’ve always had a passion for that. I’ve been investing for over 20 years. And this goes all the way back to when I was 18 investing in my Roth IRA for the very first time. And so, I’ve come a long way since then, but it’s always been an important part of my life. And I feel like I’ve been gifted in a way where I’m able to take complex topics and make them sound a little easier to, they’re more digestible. And so, what I want to do is I just really want to change people’s perspective that the way you invest today probably isn’t the best way.

It is for sure, not the only way. So, this book actually came out, you know, the lifestyle investor, the whole Genesis of this book. I’ve been sitting on it, waiting, not doing anything with it. And then one of my buddies that I was talking to real close friend, he’s like, you know I’ve had people for years saying, Justin, write a book, teach some, you know, teach me, teach a course, just get some info, some content out there. And I just, I never did it. I just kept putting it off. And one of my good buddies bless his soul said, Hey, what happens if you died? And your daughter never got to learn any of these lessons that you know, I was like, Whoa, I can’t believe first of all, you just went there. But I secondly, I mean, it hit so hard. And literally, I mean, within the next two weeks I was writing the book. And so, it originally was kind of like my lessons to her and tribute to her. And the more that I wrote it, the more I shared it with other people, what I was thinking and then got perspective. People were just, you know, kind of sharing their takeaways and lessons they learned, you know, through coaching that I’ve done. And so, the book ended up kind of evolving from there. You know, it’s a little bit meatier than what my daughter’s going to understand in the near future, but, you know, my heart is there and that’s in my dedication inside the book is to her and to my wife. And so that really was the Genesis of the book. And I’m excited. That’s where the podcast stemmed from. That’s where, I mean, everything’s stemmed from, I’ve got, you know, a lot of different programs I do, but it all kind of started because I took this path with the book. So yeah, so I wanted to have resources like a book, like a podcast that were free or really cheap, or anyone could learn these lessons for financial independence and how to, you know, not get duped by the financial institutions and wall street who wants our money or the financial advisors who are going to make money on your money, whether you make money or not, you know, and so that you can be in control versus out of control. So, you can pay lower fees or no fees. And so that’s what the book and the podcast is about. And then for people that want to take it one step further you know, they can go to my website, and I’ve got an online course that is fantastic. It’s you know, the next step there from the book, I’ve got an investors club, I’ve got a mastermind, I’ve got a high-end private client coaching program that is only available to six people max per year. Generally, I try and keep it at four. And you know, I just try and serve those that are, you know, looking to fill that part, you know, the higher ticket item one-on-one coaching is more for like, entrepreneurs that just had a big exit. They don’t know what to do with their cash. You know, so it’s teaching how to invest in a way that produces cashflow so that they don’t have to burn through their principal. You know, a lot of, you know, executives, you know, want to coach in that program or even entrepreneurs that are maybe even a slave to their business so that they can learn how to do this to unhook the golden handcuffs. But I really wanted a product that, you know, it was that anyone could read and afford and have. And so that’s why I have the different tiers of it. And really, it’s a passion project. Turn something really, to me is something that’s really incredible. And I hope that you get a lot of value. In fact, if you go to the website, the book is free, all you’d have to do is pay for shipping.

Mike Ayala: That’s awesome. That’s really cool. So, what’s the name of the podcast?

Justin Donald: So, the podcast is also the lifestyle investor.

Mike Ayala: Very cool. Yeah. Good stuff, man. Well, I really appreciate your life’s work. Love the map behind you. I mean, that’s cool in itself.  We were talking before we started recording. I mean, that kind of resonates with what you want, right.  Just being with your family, traveling, seeing the world, what an inspiration man.

Justin Donald: Well, thank you.  I really appreciate it. And I appreciate you having me on the podcast and, you know, just for what it’s worth to anyone who is interested or is unsure if they want to get the book the proceeds are being donated to charity. So, if that gives you any extra incentive you know, I definitely wanted to share that there’s a bunch of charities that are near and dear to my heart and I would love this to be a vehicle that helps other people, not just in information, but monetarily as well.

Mike Ayala: Wow. That’s amazing. So, it’s, right?

Justin Donald: Yep.

Mike Ayala: Cool. Well, we appreciate your wisdom, your inspiration, and most of all, the example that you are to us, man, this has been a very amazing conversation.

Justin Donald: Oh, well, thank you so much for having me, Mike, this has been a blast. Your questions are just fantastic and so good. And you know, I can see why your listener base loves listening to you because you take such great time. You ask such great questions; you curate such great conversation. So, it’s really an honor to be on your show. Thank you.

Mike Ayala: Thank you. Talk soon.

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Episode 94