Many people underestimate the true importance of the correct mindset in achieving the things they want to be able to achieve in their lives. This so-called “mindset for success,” contrary to most people’s thinking, influences so much of what you do, and it all begins with making sure you’re taking care of yourself. Dr. Steven Kaufman is the Founder and Chief Acceleration Officer of ZeusLending.com. Steven joins Keith Baker in diving into what makes a good, strong mindset for success. In discussing faith, fear, and integrity, Steven breaks down what you need to develop the mindset for success because it truly starts within you.
A Mindset Milestone: An Interview With Dr. Steven Kaufman
If You Only Listen To One Episode Of This Podcast, This Better Be It…
Greetings from the energy capital of the world inside the Corona versus Earth. Welcome to episode 100. I’d like to thank you for celebrating 100 episodes with me. Thank you for reading. I appreciate you sharing your time with me. We are dedicated to teaching everyday people just like you and me, how to prosper with the most passive form of real estate investing known to mankind. Not a job, not hard money lending, investing, while giving you tips and ideas that can help and will keep your money safe. It’s simple. If you’re looking for practical tips and advice on being a successful private lender or on how to create wealth without banks on Wall Street, then you are in the right place. If you want to learn from my mistakes so that you can avoid them and therefore shorten your own learning curve, which is what you should do, pull up a chair and pour yourself a dram of the best because this is made just for you.
In honor of the 100 episodes milestone, I bring back my first ever guest all the way back from episode number one, Mr. Steven Kaufman. This interview was several weeks before the Coronavirus became a pandemic and a fixture of reality in everyone’s mind. As you’re reading, I know you will find an extreme amount of value out of what Steven discusses particularly these three topics: faith, fear and integrity. I can’t think of anyone outside of my own family who has had a bigger impact on changing my mindset for the better than Steven. That’s why I brought him back here to help me work on my mindset as you get to read to give me a bit of perspective in order to achieve the next level, whatever that may be, especially during the challenging times in which we find ourselves. I’m very fortunate that I was delayed in this. This is perfect timing for episode 100.
I asked Steven to speak about a couple of concepts that may be providing a lot of negative thoughts in your own mind and hopes that his words will cut through the noise and give you some ammunition to change and improve yourself, because I know Steven has done the same for me. For the record, to my knowledge, Steven Kaufman does not have a drug problem. It’s a colloquialism, but it is. I asked him to tell the story of how he developed a drug problem, which is my favorite story of achievement. The making up of one’s mind, committing to a cause and taking action. The action is necessary to achieve goals whether they be financial, personal, spiritual or any related to any pursuit for which you feel it’s worthy. Maybe you want to communicate more effectively, you want to have better relationships with your children or your spouse, or you want to have a retirement that allows you to travel. Whatever makes you tick, it doesn’t matter. Let’s go ahead and cut to the chase. Let’s get to this interview with Dr. Steven Kaufman on this 100th episode.
This is my distinct honor to introduce to you once again, Mr. Steven Kaufman of Zeus Mortgage. Welcome back, Steven.
Thanks so much for having me, Keith.
First I should say, I mis-introduce you there because you are Steven Kaufman the last time we spoke on the show here and now you are Dr. Steven Kaufman. Congratulations. Tell me a little bit about your PhD.Fear and faith are both imaginary. Click To Tweet
It’s five and a half years in the making. I finally made it through the gauntlet of dissertation and research. I completed my Psychology PhD in the first quarter or second quarter of 2019. I got my research published. I’m happy to be done with that and now moving on to bigger and better things. That was a passion of mine. It wasn’t something I had to do or needed to do, but I want to do it. Learning is my number one hobby. One of my bucket list items, I think I may have told you, is to spend more in education in a year that all my other expenses combined because I love learning and applying what I’ve learned. It’s been a great adventure. I am going by Dr., I earned that degree. I spent five and a half years and a lot of money. I’m still using it.
A teaser on Steven a little bit, years ago, he said when he got his PhD and he would go by Dr., he’s going to change his name legally to Dr. Pepper. I’m going to hold you to that. It’s out there in the worldwide webs.
I’m going to change my name to Steven Pepper, so people will have to call me Dr. Pepper.
You honored me the first time by coming on for episode one and kickstart in this thing. At that time, I didn’t know if I was going to hit 50 or 20 shows, let alone coming up on 100. It’s an honor for me to have you. It’s been bumps and bruises and ups and downs and everything in between, but it’s been a hell of a learning experience to touch back on your hobby. I don’t regret it at all. In fact, we’re here because of the Mastermind of yours that I participated in all those years ago. I remember sitting in that room thinking, “I don’t know if I want to go for single-family houses anymore, but I know that there’s this lending thing.” I distilled it out of that Mastermind and knew that I’d go down this path, so here I am, I followed it. Oddly enough, it is real estate-related but it wasn’t the “get ten houses with $10,000 quick.”
I thought everybody’s taking me down this completely unexpected and wonderfully brilliant path. Thank you for that again. Part of that Mastermind, some of the things that I picked up were getting people over the hump. I quit my job and now I’m a consultant. No more W-2 and it was such a hard thing to do, but looking back, it’s like stepping over a little creek. The chasm is never as wide once we’re on the other side of. It’s always bigger when it’s in front of you. The first thing I wanted to get to, and these are topics I had written down for our last interview that we didn’t get to, that’s why I’m hammering these home. You had a saying along the lines that faith and fear are the same emotion or the same thing but the distinction between the two. If you could elaborate on that.
Fear and faith are both imaginary. They’re both in your head. Faith is fear directed towards something that’s positive. Fear is thoughts and emotions that are directed towards something that you think are negative. I know this is the Private Lenders Podcast, but I speak a lot about commercial investing, mainly what I do for a living outside of my debt company ZeusLending.com. I do speaking once or twice a year. When I’m speaking to people, almost always when I get down to it, their biggest issue with starting in commercial investing is that they’re afraid. It takes a lot to get them to say that, but once they do, we realize that’s the crux of what the issue is. It isn’t that they don’t have money, deals, credit or they don’t know what they’re doing. All those things can be solved. It’s that they’re afraid that chasm, gap, leap and their faith is fear redirected.
People who aren’t afraid, either go bankrupt or die. People who are too afraid, either don’t take action, they stay in the status quo, they have lots of regrets and they wish life was different. Both life is different, maybe they take a lot of courses, they’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts, but nothing ever happens. There’s a certain amount of fear that once channeled into faith that this will work and that you have to trust the universe that this is going to work, you’ve prepared yourself as much as you can. Those people make magic out of their lives. Once they realize that, they get to experience a whole new life that wasn’t going to happen otherwise.
I remember sitting in that room in the Houstonian Hotel that day and you’re going through that and I was like, “I need to let this marinade and digest this a little more.” What holds most of us back at the end of the day is some people say, “Is that negative thought my parents put in my head?” That’s part of it, but it’s going beyond it. As you said, putting faith in the universe. In my case, whether it be private lending or my first horrible landlord deal, it was keep pushing until I got to the other side and say, “I’ve done it.”
Fear is a roadblock. It’s negative fear as bullies that helped direct you. It’s very powerful. You want to have some fear. A healthy amount of fear keeps you making good decisions. It’s the fear that’s a roadblock in front of you that doesn’t let you move forward. That’s what I would call a very dangerous type of fear. It’s almost as dangerous as having no fear at all because it keeps you in a life that you don’t want to live. It keeps you regretting or wanting things that you could or should have but you don’t because you won’t take action.
You made the distinction of commercial or your debt company, which is how I met you with the Zeus Mortgage way back when. One thing that I’ve noticed in engaging with people is that everyone still thinks that I private lend to everybody. I’m like, “A private lender was someone that you know is in your circle that you borrow from.” I’m not a hard money lender. That’s a business and that’s fine. If you want to be in the business of hard money and lending, I would suggest people follow your example in Zeus Mortgage. However, with the private lending, I don’t loan to strangers, so I have to be conscious of my brand and telling people what it is that the Private Lenders Podcast is about. I like that distinction that you made. I’m glad you brought that up because this is what realtors called pocket deals. I got a lender over here. This guy wants to get into some multifamily or whatever.
That’s the whole process of it and then to educate people. With the 100 episodes, fortunately for me, they share their horror stories of what went wrong. For example, loaning all the money without holding anything in escrow for repairs. You essentially paid retail for a house that still needs a rehab at that point but pushing people into that first lending. Most of these people are going to have day jobs, they’re commuting, reading this or if they’re smart, they’re probably on a treadmill. I would be in the car, not on the treadmill, unfortunately. I’ve seen you doing the pushup or handstand things, so I know you’re in good shape. We’re going to zoom into someone whoever’s reading to get them over their hump and to take action. What can you offer in your own words before we talk about that drug problem of yours? How do we get over the hump?
First of all, that’s how bad rumors get started. The answer to get over the hump to taking action, this is going to sound a little too simple, but if you’re a person of integrity and if we define integrity as honoring your word, success overall is simple. This is going to land in a way that will sound overly simplistic and just because it’s simple, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. If integrity is honoring your word, then success is simply making commitments in the direction you want your life to go and honoring your word or having integrity about what you said. I love listening to podcasts while I’m walking, on a treadmill or exercising. I felt like cheating the universe. I’m getting two things at once. I’m hacking universe, I’m doing stuff that. I encourage that. For someone who’s driving, on the trip and they’re struggling on making their first private loan or doing their first commercial investment, their first investment period, the answer is make an agreement or commitment to do something in some area. Go find a certain amount of prospects that you can lend to, perfect your underwriting, ask someone how they should underwrite the loan or tune into some of your calls.Make commitments in the direction that you want to be able to go. Click To Tweet
Make commitments in the direction that they want to go and then honor their commitments. It’s simple. If you want to get a commercial deal, I’ll speak to a commercial transaction. There’s more to talk about. If you want to invest in apartment complex, which everyone says they want to do, but most don’t. If you want to invest in a commercial multifamily deal, set commitments in the direction of doing that and honor your commitments, have some integrity with what you said. We all cheat integrity to ourselves the most. A lot of people were more likely to be on time to a meeting with somebody else than they are to be on time to a meeting to go work out to go do this or that or take care of themselves. This is the one area where if you’re asking what’s that first step to get people from moving beyond their fear? Honor your word to yourself.
It does come off as simplistic, but I was listening to a podcast, as you say, and what they found was people were not being accountable to themselves. They had integrity to say to other people. They were there for their parents or their sister or whoever needed help, they were there. Yet when it came to fulfilling their dreams or their desires, they completely took a back seat and did not show that same integrity, devotion and accountability to themselves.
You said it better than I did. A circus and a zoo both have animals. The difference between a circus and a zoo is a ringleader. In your life, you’re the ringleader. If you honor your word to yourself and your commitments to yourself and take care of the ringleader, your life looks like a zoo.
This is why I get these guys here. Steven, break it down. As you said, just because it’s simple, it may not be easy to take action. Case in point, it’s not easy to get your butt up at 5:00 AM and get into the gym. I can tell you how easy it is to stay in bed. I like that touching on the integrity to yourself and keeping your word. Now that we’ve started a vicious rumor over the internet that you have a drug problem, would you please go back to the story? For those of you who don’t know, Dr. Steven Kaufman was born in New York City but came down to Texas at an early age.
I’ll tell this succinctly. I was born in Brooklyn, New York, not New York City. My grandmother, my bubby, she had cancer when I was five years old. My parents loaded up five kids and two adults in a Malibu classic car, a mid-sized sedan, with all of our belongings in the trunk. We thought we would be in Houston for only about six months to a year while my grandmother was having chemo for stomach cancer. After being here a few months, my grandmother passed away. My parents couldn’t afford to drive back to New York to get our belongings, which were then lost. We ended up having to find rent as cheap as possible. We did in a trailer park in a city that no one had ever heard of in my family called Baytown, Texas, where we paid $125 a month for rent because it was all my parents could afford. I grew up there.
I’m one of five siblings, I’m the youngest of five. My four older siblings all dropped out of high school. When I was in the ninth grade, I did what they did, which was I dropped out of high school in the ninth grade to go to work. That’s what everyone in my family did, that’s what I did. It wasn’t a big deal. My mother didn’t even think twice about doing it because that was what we did in our trailer park. It was time to go to work, and so I went to work. Two or three years later, I was seventeen years old. I was sitting in a trailer with a bunch of guys in the middle of the day, I just happened to be off. I’ll never forget the day that sometimes I get emotional about it, so I could get emotional about it now.
I’ll never forget the day because everyone was smoking cigarettes and weed. The air was so thick. I can feel it right out my mouth, it was super dry. There’s a guy over my left shoulder who was coughing so badly because he had been smoking so much. You can smell the stale beer that was everywhere in this trailer. I can still feel the crushed beer cans underneath my feet where they’d been left there inside someone’s house or trailer. I looked around and I realized that my life was probably never going to change this trajectory, that I’m going to live like my siblings, my parents, all of these guys, young and older living, and I’m not going to be able to outwork them. I was working hard.
I’d saved up some money. I was never going to leave this place unless I did something nobody else here was willing to do. It wasn’t going to be the military because a lot of them were in the military, including my family members. What could I do that would change the structure of my life? That is when I say I became addicted to drugs. I started dragging myself to school immediately and getting an education. I dragged myself to work, to the gym and I started having this certain amount of discipline knowing that if I’m going to change the trajectory of my life, it’s going to have to start with education. To me, education is freedom. I believe that people are fighting mostly for freedom. If I ask people why they’re going to lend money on a private loan, why they’re in business or why they’re doing anything they’re doing, it comes down first.
What they’ll probably say if we go a couple of levels deeper will be that they want to make themselves proud. They want to make their kids proud or give their kids a better life and make their parents proud, alive or dead. When you dig it below that a deeper level, you realize that what people are after is freedom from those feelings. Freedom of knowing that they don’t have to make anybody else proud, that they have done it. Almost a peace of mind is what people are after. I believe that education, knowing what you’re doing. If you know all the answers, you’ll never will. If you have no fear about making macaroni and cheese and you have total peace of mind about making it, that’s what people are about in life and that starts with education. Listening to podcasts, getting a formal education and paying people to train them, all of those things, I’ve been doing that for my entire adult life. I equate education with security and success. There are people who take classes after classes. That’s not wrong to talk to you about. Being addicted to drugs meaning I drag myself to do things.
We don’t want to do them. That’s the key part. You can drag yourself to a class, but if you don’t drag yourself to ever implement and you learned or you can drag yourself to listen to a podcast. If you don’t have to drag yourself to go make a loan or talk to take the first steps, the podcast is great. Keith wants you to keep listening, but that doesn’t give you any personal benefit. The answer for me, and I said at the very beginning, is that learning is my number one hobby and that relates to education. The reason why is because it gives me peace of mind. I’m learning about myself. The older that I get, the more I’m discovering about myself what I didn’t know about myself. Also mainly in business, I know that education is the key to being successful.
It’s still one of my favorite stories anyone’s ever told me. You cleaned it up a bit. That was the whole thing about drug expose. You drag yourself up at 6:00 AM that next day. It was like, “I need to get a GED. I need to get that high school equivalency.” The next was that you got yourself out of bed. You dragged yourself to U of H. You got enrolled at the University of Houston and got your degree. It keeps snowballing. You get a Master’s Degree and now a PhD. What are we going to call you in the next five years?
Call me anything you want as long as you call me.Education is freedom, and that's what most people are fighting for in their lives. Click To Tweet
I’m glad we got those stories down. I wanted you to tell it to the readers. I can’t say thank you enough for all that I’ve learned from you. I remember you had an alarm clock. Every hour your Mac book would say, “It’s 1:00.” Without missing a beat, you would humanize it and be like, “If you take the LTV, it’s 1:00. Thank you.” I’m not going to lie, I was like, “This guy is quirky, but it works. He gets so much stuff done.” I look at my to-do list at the end of the day and I look at someone like yours and you haven’t even broken a sweat. You’re like, “Let’s go hit the gym.” I’m like, “Wow.” The reason why you and I are speaking on episode 100 is because I’ve been standing on your shoulders. I do want to have you back on sometime soon, especially when I talk about your crowdfunding and all the success you were having over at Zeus Equity Group. I wish you all the best and I look forward to having you on. I’m not going to wait 100 episodes, but hopefully soon.
I’m available when you are. Those are the things I love talking about. It’s like being an artist and you asking me to talk about my art. Of course, I’ll talk about that.
I’m glad that you look at the money and the financing as an art. I love that.
It’s one of the ways I can justify my personal life working so hard on it because if I was an artist, people would think, “He’s so passionate and handsome. Look at him. He’s an amazing Renaissance man. He’s painting all these canvases.” In essence, I am. It’s just that I’m doing it either on a calculator or on a property.
One property at a time.
It is an art.
Steven, thank you again. Thank you for coming on Episode 100. Let’s go pop some champagne. All the best. Take care.
I want to thank you for sharing your ear and your time with me and for celebrating this momentous episode for me. It’s a personal achievement and it might be bragging or whatever, but I’m proud of it and I’m glad you’re reading. If you read this, then you found value in the interview with Steven Kaufman. It would mean the world and I do mean the world to me if you could help me spread the word about this. Get it out there and increase awareness. You can do that by leaving me an honest rating and review over at iTunes, Google Podcast or whatever platform you’re using. That’s the best way you can help contribute to this and I would greatly appreciate it.
With this episode, I’m going to ask you to go a little bit further and connect with me on social media and push it out there. Forward this, put it in groups and lie for me if you have to and say it’s interesting show and you learned something. I say that in jest, but I know that you’re not going to have to lie. I might not always be on the up and up and I’m going to fail. I’m human just like everyone else, but I’m going to bring you the good stuff. Dr. Steven Pepper Kaufman is definitely the good stuff. Please go to PrivateLendersPodcast.com. This will be, of course, episode 100 and spread the news. Do me a distinct favor. You’re friends with them on Facebook or whatever, send it to somebody you don’t like and let’s see what happens. I would greatly appreciate it.
You send it to your friends that you do like and that you think that would find good value or people that you’re trying to turn into private lenders for your deals. For some weird moral reason, you feel like you need to interact with them. I’d be eternally grateful if you could do that for me. I want to thank you for reading. I want everyone to stay indoors. Don’t spread the virus. This pandemic, it’s a first. We’re all learning. Let’s all have a little bit of patience for everyone around us. That means your kids, your spouse, your parents, your in-laws, your uncle. Your deadbeat brother-in-law who doesn’t do shit who’s done nothing but sit on the couch for the last several years, but all of a sudden now he’s saving the world. I’m going down a rabbit hole here. I’ve got a date with a 21-year-old dram of single malt. I may not deserve that dram, but I’ve earned it with 100 episodes. I want to sign off now. I hope you stay safe. I wish you all safe and prosperous private lending. I’ll catch you next time. Take care.
About Steven Kaufman
Dr. Steven Kaufman is an accomplished investor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the current Chair of TIGER 21 Houston.
Steven manages his family assets with a focus on thesis-driven opportunistic investments in three asset classes which include real estate financing, real estate investment, and private equity in small growth-companies.
Steven has held C-Level positions in various financing enterprises for 18 years and has been investing in real estate for 20 years. During that time he coordinated over $1 billion in real estate financing for companies like American Express, Hewlett Packard, and Exxon Mobil and founded ZeusLending.com which is the leading online provider of real estate financing in America.
According to Inc. Magazine, Zeus is the 37th fastest growing private financial service firm in America. Steven’s financing enterprises have spanned two economic cycles.
Steven has been interviewed by local and national news organizations like FOX, ABC, CBS, CNN, and Bloomberg on the financial markets, and he is a contributing author at Entrepreneur.com. National Mortgage Professional Magazine has repeatedly ranked Steven as one of the “Top 40 Most Influential Mortgage Professionals in the United States”.
Steven graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S. in accounting and holds a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation. He has a Master’s Degree in Economic Development from the University of Houston. Steven completed the Strategic Marketing Management Program at Harvard Business School, and earned his PhD in psychology, with a thesis on organizational leadership, corporate psychology, and team/group trust, from The Chicago School.
His philanthropic recognition includes the Houston Astros “Hometown Hero”, the City of Houston “Humanitarian Award”, the Lululemon “Modern Day Man”, and the United States Presidential “Life-Time Achievement Award”.
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