Aaron Wagner isn’t the investment firm CEO you’re used to.
The 6-foot-3 former linebacker and early Bitcoin investor, walked into our 10am interview right after a morning workout, Redbull in hand, like his day was already half over.
Born in Canada to modest means, Aaron parlayed his talents as an athlete and opportunity-seeker into a multi-million-dollar investing business.
His first exposer to real estate investing came when he was a junior playing football at Brigham Young University in Utah where the student body was predominately Mormon, and the honor code was strict. It was common there for two or more students to share a single bedroom.
“What I learned was that this created an incredible opportunity. If you had a house with four or five bedrooms you could put two or three students in each room paying $250 bucks each. Now that room is making $750-$1000 in rent.”
Wagner leapt at this money-making opportunity.
He started searching the MLS, a database of properties for sale, and found a five-bedroom house that fit his investment needs.
Then, he needed capital.
Wagner knew his friend’s dad was wealthy and also was a big football fan.
Wagner invited him out to breakfast with the promise of game tickets and field passes and pitched his idea.
“I’ll make the payments, pay the mortgage, manage the whole thing. Your son will get to live here for free. Whatever profits we make we’ll split 50/50. And he was like-yeah, I like your plan.” he said.
A year later, Wagner sold the house and made a $110,000 profit. His cut of the deal was $60,000.
“To make $60,000 in profit as a junior in college, this was life changing. I didn’t go buy a car or blow my money. I took the money and I bought two more condos. I realized real estate was the ticket.”
Even with housing prices rising 18.6 percent in 2021, Wagner believes it’s still possible to break into the real estate industry.
“Prices are high but it’s important to understand that It’s just perspective. The market is always going to go up & down but there is opportunity everywhere,” Wagner told me, “When prices go up, almost with certainty, terms like interest rates go down and the only way you can get a good deal in real estate is either in price or in terms.”
Wager also advises beginners to learn the market before jumping in head-first. Everything you need to know, he says, you can get from the internet.
“YouTube, courses, masterminds—you can find incredible amounts of free content or pay very little to go to big seminars. These professionals online are real people. Real people actually winning. You can pay and be taught by the best people in the world. Get the education first, then go to work.”
As far as where to buy, Wagner says for short-term gains, like flipping, focus on positive net migration states like Florida, Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho and Utah.
But, if you have cash and want to protect your money and hedge against inflation, Wagner says to buy in negative net migration states like California and New York and hold them because those places will populate again because of their coastal advantages.
For those wanting to get into the real estate game with limited funds, Wagner says wholesaling is the way to go.
Wholesaling is when a wholesaler contracts a home with a seller then finds an interested party to buy it.
“The reason wholesaling is a fantastic entry point for real estate investors is because it requires no money and no credit. It only requires work ethic and knowledge, that’s it. You can make huge wholesale assignment fees depending on how good you are at finding good deals, negotiating good pricing and terms, and then soliciting those contracts to other buyers. It’s a great place to start.”
“I’ve never been that person to have this super strategic plan mapped out, I just knew I wanted more, I had confidence in myself that I could do things as well as others or better. I’ve been an opportunist. When an opportunity presents itself, I’ve executed on those things.”
Delta 8 THC- What’s Behind the Suddenly Very Available but Questionable Products?
“It is a significant, real world public health risk for patients who think these products are as safe and effective as natural cannabis”
The hemp boom is over, and now we’re seeing the results of an industry chasing profit margins.
“The industry is rolling into a green rush derivative,” explains pharmacologist and neuroscientist, Dr. Greg Gerdeman. He wants to educate the public on cannabis, especially when it comes to the latest fads. For instance, products containing Delta-8 THC have become popular, especially in states where cannabis is still prohibited. Delta-8′ s legality is a bit murky because its a synthetic compound, something Dr. Gerdeman says is a misdirection from the promises of both cannabis flower and industrial hemp.
In our recent conversation on the Erupt app, Gerdeman talked about Delta-8, reminding us that “D-8” is not a specific strain.
“Delta-8 flower is hemp flower that’s been sprayed with synthetic D-8, that’s what D-8 flower is.”
“D-8 occurs in very low concentrations in cannabis plants, as far as has been discovered to date,” says Gerdeman. None of it is being extracted directly, it’s being converted from something else in a synthetic process, and there’s no D-8 producing strains. Any flower you get that’s sold as D-8 flower is hemp that was sprayed with D-8 that was made in somebody’s lab.”
Gerdeman compared the current D-8 craze to the CBD boom of the past few years. There was a massive amount of CBD produced in 2019 after the farming of hemp became legal.
“Farmers were promised the moon as though they were gonna make tens of thousands of dollars per acre growing CBD, and it was a false premise,” Gerdeman says.
Due to a skyrocketing hemp supply, with little infrastructure to turn the newly-legal crop around, the industry took a nose-dive, and experts say it could take years for the hemp market to mature.
In the meantime, all the extra hemp that was produced without a market to buy it, is being cooked and boiled into CBD products.
“It is a significant, real world public health risk for patients who think these products are as safe and effective as natural cannabis,” said Dr. Gerdeman.
You can watch our full conversation below and on the Erupt app.
Alphabet Mafia: The Necessary Difficulty of Building Queer Spaces
With the launch of Serif, a new type of queer space is beginning to take shape, but it is harder than ever.
Growing up, Serif CEO Brian Tran never found himself at home inside of gay bars. He found it alienating that bars are the central hub of queerness.
“It really starts with what I first experienced when I first came out… I was constantly looking at what was around me… I do remember the first feeling was like, ‘I know I am gay but I just can’t identify with what I am seeing.’”
Continuing, he beckons the question that is echoed by Serif’s executive producer, Kristen Laffey, around how to build alternative queer spaces. Within our conversation, Laffey consistently reminds us about the necessity of furthering the scope of focus for queer spaces.
The undeniable truth, which both Laffey and Tran mention, is that gay bars have historically been the center of orbit of queer life. The three of us also agree that this reality has bred toxicity in the community.
Serif exists to rid of this toxicity and to replace it with a new way of community building.
“Serif is designed to be a space where LGBTQIA+ people can have meaningful connections through experiences that we produce. Through these experiences we can form connections through conversations that happen right in front of you and then you get to connect afterwards.”
Serif members are encouraged to take part in a spectrum of both virtual and in-person events. Each experience is catered to unique subsets of the community and attempts to shine a light on specific areas that are often underrepresented.
This attempt to truly create safety and equity for the entire community, as Tran points out, is at the core of the brand’s mission. We all agree that a majority of queer spaces give centralized importance to cis-gendered, gay men. Serif wants to change that.
Tran and Laffey each vocalize how exciting it is to be able to build something unique in its focus, particularly when more and more of the community becomes disenchanted with the idea of queer spaces.
But how does one manage that while attempting to launch a business? I bring up The Wing, an organization creating safe spaces for women in business, as a potential harbinger for how these spaces may collapse in on themselves. Over time, The Wing began to face endless challenges with sustainable equity, particularly for trans women. As I bring this up, the Serif leaders admit these challenges are inevitable for them as well. Tran knows Serif’s every move is being watched and dissected by the community. But this does not scare him. In fact, Serif encourages this feedback and a sense of community led evolution.
Find out more about how Serif plans to tackle this issue and more on our latest episode of Alphabet Mafia. You can watch this episode of Alphabet Mafia below as well as many others on the Erupt app.
Striketober May Be Step One in the Employee Revolution
October is seeing more strikes than any month in recent memory, prompting many to consider the power of the employee and the future of corporate business.
Talk to anyone about the labor market and two words will immediately enter the conversation: shortages and strikes.
Although the Hollywood IATSE strike was averted over the weekend, the United States is currently seeing an uptick in strikes in almost every field. As the BBC reported last week, more than 100,000 U.S. employees are currently striking. From John Deere workers to school bus drivers to symphony musicians to Kaiser employees, strikes are taking place all over the country.
While strikes are not uncommon, this month’s strikes are notable for their labor power. The strike by John Deere employees in multiple states encompasses more on 10,000 workers who are dissatisfied with their current pay and the pay raises handed to executives.
More than 28,000 workers at Kaiser Permanente in California and Oregon are also striking in hopes of having their new contract demands approved.
The Kaiser workers are only the latest in the health care sector to strike. More than 2,000 healthcare employees in Buffalo conducted a walkout at the beginning of the month. Those workers also cited better pay and conditions as rationales for their strike.
The strikes are arriving as the entire U.S. economy is struggling to return to pre-pandemic employment levels.
Are these strikes the beginning of an employment revolution?
Throughout the pandemic, the American zeitgeist around work and employees seems to have shifted. For most of the summer, labor shortages were the highlight of economic conversation, even as more businesses began to return to work. After a sequence of government stimulus packages and expanded unemployment benefits, finding employees willing to return to pre-pandemic wages was nearly impossible in a wide range of sectors.
There appears to be a new status quo for the everyday American worker and that may prove to be a reckoning for corporate business.
On top of that, according to a Gallup poll conducted in September, opinions of unions also seem to be shifting. Union support is now officially at its highest point since 1965.
Another key element in the labor shortage and resulting strikes is the complexity of immigration. Currently, more than nine million qualified immigrants are awaiting to permanent residence in the U.S. With the U.S. Labor Department’s most recent jobs report showing nearly 10.5 million job openings, immigrants could play a key role in solving the current crises.
But solving the labor shortage issue will not alleviate the pressure placed on large businesses. As strikes continue and more voices come together to demand change for employees, the corporate world will have to respond. Its response may trigger further strikes or may bring forth a new wave of employee rights.
For now, what direction this situation heads next is to be determined.