Kanye West inspired my real estate career

All In

Growing up playing basketball taught me to be a team player. But I never dreamed of being in the NBA. I would have rather been Kanye West than Kobe Bryant. When I went to college, I realized that I wasn’t happy living the “party-all-of-the-time” lifestyle that everyone else seemed to love, so I dropped out. I wanted to challenge myself. I moved back home and did something that I always wanted to do: I started taking music seriously.

Sports are structured. You’re told what to do and when to do it. But music is the exact opposite. You have no guidance or direction and you just have to figure it out. Those years that I spent waking up at 8am, making coffee, then banging out tracks for the rest of the day taught me the habits that I used to motivate myself in real estate. When I finally moved to New York, I had a laptop full of my tracks that I made but no idea how to make money off of them. Not making any money made me feel like I wasn’t making any progress. My motivation to keep making music went away, but I didn’t want to leave NYC. Then I landed a job at a real estate company.

My first six weeks or so were a disaster. I wasn’t lazy: I was working Saturdays and Sundays from the get-go. But deals kept slipping away at the last minute. I made zero dollars even though I was working every single day. Finally, I was so fed up that I took my drum machine and sold it on Craigslist. It was the last tie that I still had to my first dream. That month, I rented five apartments and made $15,000. (Ironically, I spent the money that I made from selling my drum machine on Craigslist to advertise rental apartments on Craigslist. There’s so much money to be made in New York City real estate that even Craigslist charges us money to advertise rental apartments.)

The lesson that I learned from this is that success comes when you go all in. You won’t push yourself to succeed until you absolutely have to. If I had kept my drum machine around and thought: “Well, maybe I can do this on the side once I make some money…” then I would have been mediocre at two jobs instead of great at one.

Nick El-Tawil
NICK EL-TAWIL