When entrepreneur Frank Song started working in real estate at the age of 17, he described it as a way to pay for college and to end his time of constantly being homeless again and again because of his sick parents and bad home life.
Although Song was dealt a bad hand to start with in life, his troubled childhood inspired in him an intense determination to take charge of his fate and create a better future for himself. After graduating university, Song worked as an investment banker on Wall Street and then moved on to work at a top notch private equity firm. Eventually, Song's ambition led him to start up his own company.
In 2020, his companies are now worth a combined value of over $10 Million.
Today, Song is far from his past life of borrowing clothes from friends, sleeping in Walmart and taking shelter at bus stops. He says, "the most important key to having a successful and good life, especially as a young person, is to avoid making major mistakes in life. It's strange to think, but the younger you are, the more of an impact these decisions will have on the rest of your life."
Frank Song believes that his ability to turn his life around from being homeless to successful entrepreneur all on his own stems from his first real estate job when he was 17. Song claims that especially when you're young, it's already a huge win to avoid making huge financial or life mistakes that could cost you your future. Lessons learned from his time working in real estate as a teenager taught Song just how to do that.
Because of this, Song called the real estate work, "a blessing in disguise," adding, "Of course as a normal 17 year old, you want to spend your time on the weekends or after school hanging out with your friends, not in an office. But it really saved my life."
How? Well, according to Song, the job allowed him to pretty much predict the future.
Because he was the youngest person working at the office, Song says, "I was spending time with people who were 2-3 times older than me. In an office, as everyone knows, there's tons of talking and gossip and just bantering. So, it was extremely helpful to hear people trade stories about problems they were having in their investments, marriages, businesses, etc."
It turns out that office gossip led Song to start to see patterns and start to see where people thought of a logical path, but it turned out to be more complicated than that. He started to realize that most people make the same mistakes as everyone else. By seeing these patterns early on, he understood how he needed to approach investments, marriage, business and everything else in his life to avoid ending up in a bad situation.
Song recants another very helpful experience that occurred while he was working in real estate. It began when he was asked to join the Distressed Real Estate Team. That meant for hours per day, he was working with people in bad financial situations.
Song tells how, during his time working on the Distressed Real Estate Team, he began to talk with people who were at the lowest point in their life, who didn't have many people to talk to and often times would become reclusive from their friends and family because of the embarrassment and unhappiness from being in such a bad financial situation.
Because he didn't have any social connections with them, Song says, "I ended up being the perfect person for them to tell all their problems and stories to."
Song claims that at times he felt more like a therapist than a real estate advisor. "People would tell me about their life stories, their families, their previous work, and I would just listen and support them," he adds.
Listening to these stories was eye opening, according to Song, who explained, "As a child, I always thought people in bad financial situations were people who wasted all their money gambling, on alcohol, or buying luxury items, but most of them were just honest-to-God, good, hardworking people who simply just didn't understand personal finance well enough and didn't manage their money correctly."
The stories of these folks caused Song to see patterns of what people thought was a 'safe life', 'safe career', or a 'safe investment', but ended up not turning out how they expected.
He concludes that it gave him lots of ways to avoid making the same finance mistakes that many people make. He feels fortunate for having these experiences and he enjoyed the privilege to learn from people who were much older than him at that time.
In the end, Song says, "Their time and their stories ended up being the greatest gift because if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be able to know what to do at every point in my life, common critical mistakes to avoid and how to correctly plan for my life years in advance."