Aaron, who came to Canada from Trinidad with his father when he was six-years old, has dedicated his life to building a better future for himself, his family and his community through his work as a real estate agent and motivational speaker. Aaron firmly believes that everyone can be the architect of their own future with discipline, the right mindset and a strong sense of self. Aaron is well-respected in the real-estate business but it's been a long a journey to get there.
Listen to the audio version of this article:
Can you tell me about your video web series Flipping Ridiculous?
I started the show about four years ago when I got into the flipping side of real estate, it was my first project and I was overwhelmed with excitement. I came up with the name Flipping Ridiculous and kept it in my back pocket but it started when I got involved in the construction side of real estate, the fact that I could make a property based off of an idea and the artistic work that went into it. So I created a platform where I could motivate other people to follow their dreams. It doesn't have to be in real estate, but I wanted to show the process and show them that you don't always have to go the conventional way with their business, you can have fun and do something positive, that's how I hope to inspire the youth.
How has getting into real estate empowered you?
I feel like my mentality going into it was very different than most people, the people I would talk to would say "I want to make money" or I want to do this or that but my ‘why’ was the sense of ownership and having ownership over my life, creating an identity for me, creating a path for my family and creating a path for my community to show that it's possible to own real estate. I know there are people in communities where home ownership is the last thing on their list because they're worried about survival, paying bills, keeping food on the table. I wanted to break that mind-set. So when I was able to acquire my first property it was the biggest accomplishment of my life because I was walking on the path I set out for myself. And it’s been a great feeling ever since. What drives me is knowing I can change my life and lives of those around me.
In addition to working to benefit your community and your family, what other things or people inspire you?
Just being able to live life on my own terms. I've put in the hours, worked long shifts, had a lot of different jobs but my mind-set was always to escape the 9-5 conventional job. I wanted a platform to stand up on and inspire other people. I read a quote when I was younger "helping other people reach their goals will ultimately help you get what you want." If I come across a new skill I want to share it because I like to see people come up together. These things trickle down to the kids and the positive energy spreads, they're going to grow up thinking real estate and having those conversations and then they'll pass that down. I work for a brokerage called "Dream Maker Realty", that's what we preach and that's our mission; building generational wealth. We want to break the cycle we're currently in because we can be financially literate and financially strong we just have to want it and we have to see it.
Why is giving back to people in the community something that's important to you?
Giving back to the community is important to me because I am who I am because people have given to me; they've given me their time, ideas—big and small--, community support, the confidence I need to go out there and do this on my own so it's only fitting I do the same thing. And I don't want to just help one person, I want to help as many as I can. And since I've been helping others I've met interesting people, I've gotten referrals for business so the process really works. It's part of the way I was raised, I come from a big family and sharing was a part of our routine, it doesn't change. My business skills are the same as my life skills. I want to be the one to push the young members of the community to add real estate as an additional avenue to whatever they're trying to do. Whatever you're doing in life, keep doing it if you're passionate about it but add a little real estate because it'll allow you to leverage your business as collateral. It’s all about building your life and your business.
When it comes to the fundamentals of real estate and investing, what advice do you have for young people who don’t know much on the subject?
My advice would be open your mind to all the possibilities, try and find a mentor—that can be a person, a seminar, books—but take that information and act on it, ask questions. Also don't be afraid to make mistakes. When I started out I made all kinds of mistakes and I still make mistakes now but when you're trying to raise the bar or do things a little differently mistakes are a part of the process. The problem in today's society is that social media acts like a camera watching you and people are afraid to fail or look uncool. But you have to be able to step away from that, make mistakes to hone your craft and be able to deal with criticisms. Once you get over those hurdles the sky's the limit.
You said that in high school you were one of "the cool kids", you couldn't show any weakness and you felt ashamed of it. What happened to make you change your perspective?
What I realized growing up is that when you build something that's not real, it's going to crumble from the outside and the inside. When you start being who you are, you become stronger because you're building something real. For me, I built my life around the things that motivate me and I don't worry about the opinions of others. I just make sure that the things I do are in line with my goals for myself and my family. In high school you always had to live up to everyone's expectations but when something was going on in your life, no one had your back. I realized I was beating myself up just so I could maintain some image but I wasn't able to find myself until I dedicated time and effort to me. That's when I started to soar. No one's opinion mattered except my opinion about myself. When I started out in real estate everyone told me it'd be risky and it was. I made mistakes but I learned from them and it was worth it and I built up the strength to deal with that. Now I want to go to bed later and wake up earlier, surround myself with positive people who are striving for the same thing.
And when you were in high school you went through a personal battle where things were tense at home, your grades were suffering and you were kicked out of your house. But you managed to turn your life around. What advice do you have for someone who might be going through a similar situation?
I believe people need to get their heads out of their smartphones, start waking up and asking for help. They're too involved in what's happening on social media. That's what I did, I started to find individuals who could help me see a different way of life. Sometimes life throws curveballs but that's just a part of the game so whatever life throws my way I'm going to try my best to hit it. I read some books, researched successful people, looked at areas that interested me and thought "how could I make this a business," and really just started to build. And when I started to find myself I decided nothing was going to hold me back. I was disciplined about my goals, and took things one day at a time.
On your LinkedIn profile it reads "it's not about the money it’s about the light at the end of the tunnel. For you what is the light at the end of the tunnel?
The light at the end of the tunnel is me living life on my own terms, that's all that I want to be. I want to be able to look back at life and say where I am is where I wanted to be, and I'm not going to stop working on my craft until I get there. And once I get there I want to make sure I've paved the way for my family, making sure my kids are doing what they want to do, experiencing life, so that's what the light at the end of the tunnel is, there isn't a dollar amount.
You can check out episodes of "Flipping Ridiculous" on Aaron's YouTube channel.