Why Work Life Balance Is The New Currency

by Ben Handler

August 31, 2020

Why work life balance is the new currency with Buyer's Agent George O'Brien

George O’Brien:

I saw what you were doing, what other buyer’s agents were doing through podcasts, and just decided like if I don’t give this a crack, I’m kidding myself. Like I have the, I have the knowledge from what I’ve done myself. I’ve helped friends and family out. I just thought, wow, I’m crazy if I don’t give this a crack.

Ben Handler:

Welcome to the Buyer’s Agent Institute Show. The purpose of the show is to bring awareness to buyer’s agents to bring awareness around the career opportunities that the buyer’s agent sector is providing to people to bring awareness around the true value that buyers agents are providing, people who need help buying property. Our goal with the show is to strip back and dive into the opportunities of remarkable buyers agents who are now paving the way forward in one of the fastest-growing career sectors in real estate in Australia. Right now. Our guest today is George O’Brien. George has got an awesome story. He left school at 16 he then went and joined the mining industry as an apprentice working as a diesel mechanic. He stayed there for eight years earning really good money. At 19 he bought his first property. He’s 25 now. He’s got four properties and he has left the mining industry after eight years to really pursue his true calling and passion, which is buying property.

He’s now a buyer’s agent who runs his own company called Future Property Co. based in Newcastle. He’s currently specializing in Newcastle in both investment and principal place of residence with an intention to spread his business and move at a more national level for not just investment purposes, but also commercial. Today I’d like to welcome George O’Brien. Hey, go mate. Thanks for having me. Thanks for coming here, mate. Yeah, no worries. How long was the drive from Newcastle? Just over two hours. Just beat the peak hour. So it wasn’t too bad. Very nice mate. So there’s obviously a lot of people making the career moves now and jumping into the buyer’s agent space. From what I understand, I move when we first spoke, you are obviously in the mining sector in the last eight years and you’re earning very good money, right? Yeah, yeah. Quite good money. Why did you decide to make the move?

George O’Brien:

Well basically to start off with, uh, I went to school, sort of went through school. I was quite smart but didn’t really apply myself. I was more there for the football. I played rugby league, uh, and the girls, my mates, that sort of thing. So when it comes to the end of year 10, I wasn’t quite sure what

I wanted to do. I was playing quite high-level football at the time. and I, I genuinely thought I was going to be an NRL player or a rugby league player. and if that didn’t work I would fall back on being a builder. so the building was always in the back of my mind. Uh, I decided to go to year 11 to play football, like the Catholic school football system and had an F a lot of injuries over those couple of years. So, I had two knee reconstructions and shoulder reconstruction, uh, dislocated my hip. I had a terrible run. Uh, and that just ended my football career, like professionally or seminar professionally. at that point. so I decided to leave school and become a builder. So I did a couple of weeks of work experience. The builder loved me, wanted me to get an apprenticeship and I was about to do that.

And then I realized that there were these mining apprenticeships going on up the Hunter Valley. There are quite a few underground and open-cut mines up there, but they’re quite sought after those, uh, apprenticeships. So, I applied for about five or six of them and got all four of five or six of them. I can’t remember. There were about 2000 applicants for each thing. and I don’t know how, but I got through the aptitude tests. on most of them and got an interview. And when I got those interviews is where, where I really sold myself. And I think they like me. I decided to go with an open cut mine. Uh, so this point I was 16 and started my apprenticeship there. So that went for, for four years. Uh, and that was great. That really, gave me a head-start as opposed to people going to university, which I still think is great going to university, but it just wasn’t for me.

 

That sort of thing. So from 16, I was earning really good money. and from 16 to 18ish, I just, I was a young kid, I was partying. I was having fun. I didn’t save a cent. Really. All I had was a banged-up highlight to my name by the time I was mid 18 years old. and my dad sort of said to me, look, mate, I was young once. I know you’re just having fun and you’ve got plenty of time ahead of you, but by just if I could advise you to do something, it’s just buying a property. he wasn’t an investor by any means, but he knew about the property. So I bought my first property a year or two later, a year later I realized what that property had done in the Newcastle market. Quite a good time. realize the power of property investing in just completely, that was the moment that the penny dropped for me.

 

Continuing on, obviously built my portfolio, but, uh, I was working in mining. I had, uh, a couple of properties behind me. I was earning really good money. and I was sort of, I felt like that was all, if I wanted to stay on and be a supervisor in the mines, I would have had to do another 10 years. There. I was travelling sort of three hours round trip a day. I’m doing 13-hour shifts, night shifts, weekends. It was quite good money, 140,000 odd dollars a year. but I was just utterly unfulfilled. I had this entrepreneurial spirit. Once I started reading books and listening to podcasts and seeing people like yourself, I always wanted to be my own boss. I always wanted to strive for the next, uh, thing. And I just found myself at a, at a dead end. the atmosphere up there, the people, there were some really good guys that I worked with.

I learned good and bad things about work ethic up there. but when I realized what I had done through property investing and the life that H had created for myself by building that base, I’d said to my girlfriend, I’m getting into real estate. I didn’t know whether I really am obsessed with the finance side of things. Obviously investing is a game of finance. So I didn’t know whether I wanted to get into that being a sales agent or buyer’s agent, but I said to my girlfriend, right, I, let’s go, let’s, I’m quitting my job.  I have this abundant mindset that everything would be okay. and obviously that was calculated. So, I said, Oh, our portfolio is sitting there. It was basically neutral, let’s go travelling for nine months. So, we went backpacking around South America and Europe and that was amazing.

We did lots of surfing and yoga and drinking and partying like it was, it was so fun. and it was really what we needed. And in that time I saw what you were doing, what other buyer’s agents were doing through podcasts, and just decided like, if I don’t give this a crack, I’m kidding myself. Like I have the, I have the knowledge from what I’ve done myself. I’ve helped friends and family out. I just thought, wow, I’m crazy if I don’t give this a crack. So I got back, uh, at the end of last year, sorry if I’m battling on at the, I got back at the end of last year in October and decided that in this January I would launch my own company. I tossed up the idea. I reached out to a few well-known buyer’s agents, that, that one that I had used, a couple of others about working for someone I really wanted to, I didn’t want to jump in and think I knew everything.

I really wanted to do a trade as such, under a really well-known buyer’s agent that had a good brand, good ethics, all that sort of stuff. But then once again, that entrepreneurial spirit in me, I wanted to have worked my own hours. I wanted to go for a surf and a coffee and do CrossFit every morning. All of that sort of stuff. So, I just, I, I toyed with the idea of working for someone and then just decided, wow, just, let’s, you can do this on your own. I had, I had inquiry coming in. I started marketing on Instagram late last year, and then about, on my birthday on the 7th of December. the, I decided to just launch it. I had enough inquiry coming in. I’d done my formal licensing over a fairly quick period of time. started the business and thought, let’s go.

George O’Brien:

So, from, uh, from the 7th of December. So tomorrow to be two months. I’ve actually signed up seven clients. and it’s just, I, I just haven’t looked back. There’s been hard periods, tough periods where I do second guess myself, but, it has, it has just taken off and I’m just so happy to be able to help other young people buy property, build their portfolio, and just create a lot, live life on their own terms basically. It sounds cheesy, but that’s really what we’re trying to do. Where am I at?

Ben Handler:   

It’s a quite a story, quite a journey and I guess it’s a, it’s amazing that you’re following, I guess that entrepreneurial blood that’s flowing through you, which is to get out there and do your own thing and you’re able to get out of that, uh, get out of that previous work, that career, which was the mining and actually take and have the courage to then take the leap to start your own business. I think that’s always very admirable. I mean, I’ve done that and I obviously I’m trying to inspire other people to do it. What have been the challenges, I mean the last two months, what have been some key challenges that you’ve noticed?

George O’Brien:

Yeah, so I’ve, I’ve found that I knew I had the market knowledge of real estate, what makes markets tick, what like, like cash flow, finance, all that sort of stuff. I knew I knew the fundamentals. but I, I guess I wasn’t quite aware I’d been told. But about the organizational and the accounting in the and the, the marketing actually getting that, those signatures on that dotted line is what it comes down to. Cause you can be the best investor in the world and have 20 properties. But if you can’t have that value proposition and show people how much value you’re adding for the, for the fee that they’re paying, there’s just, it’s just not a no, no brainer. Like you can’t, you won’t do well in business. so I’ve found that to be the hardest thing. Believe it or not, I’m quite an introvert.

 

I get quite nervous. so sometimes it’s hard for me to portray what I’m trying to, to do for clients cause I really do have their best intention at heart. Uh, but, but what I’ve found every, every situation that, I mean I’m getting better and I’m growing. and apart from that, the other challenges our guests are being alone. you, it’s really important to have people like yourself, other guys like Jack Henderson and other property people that I talk to. to bounce ideas off. Cause when you’re alone, sometimes taking calls at 8:00 PM in your office, in your undies, it’s like, it’s a bit, you sort of don’t find yourself. it’s, it’s hard. It’s different. It’s putting on the coal mining shirt and going to work, and being in that work environment or not, like it’s, it’s, it’s more diluted. so there’s been a few challenges but none that I didn’t really expect. And it’s, yeah, I haven’t looked back to be honest.

Ben Handler:

Seven clients in eight weeks. Did you expect it to grow that quick?

George O’Brien:

Well, I had an inkling, Newcastle’s a fairly small place, of, of spread myself fairly well across Newcastle, Maitland in the Hunter Valley throughout my younger years. I had an okay Instagram following personally. my family is quite well known around there and we have a good reputation from, from what I know. and I, I had a lot of people knew what I was doing already personally. but I guess yeah, I didn’t expect it to take off this quickly, but I was prepared for it. and the challenge with that as well is I had just, I wasn’t going to launch until January. but I decided to launch in December. Not my CRM was still getting set up, my accounting software. My, I was still talking to mentors about the best way to do things and then I had these clients come on board and I had to put that on the back burner cause the clients obviously come first. I’m sourcing deals making that they are looked after. so that’s been another big challenge. But yeah, it’s, it’s been crazy. I, it’s funny, I, I really talking about the different types of clients. I really thought coming into this that I would just purely be focusing on investment. I wanted to dot nail really dig deep on the Newcastle market from an investment point of view for investors from Newcastle that want to invest in Newcastle and from Newcastle that want to invest nationally. but I’ve found, I think five of my, first seven signings have been owner rocks and that, that I didn’t think too much about that sort of stuff. But I’ve really, really enjoy the emotional side of things because I get to work hard for people and, and see there, they’re the smile on their face and when we get a really good outcome for them.

George O’Brien:

And I’ve found a lot of them have been hybrid deals. So, first homeowners that do want to obviously for the benefits of living in your first home, live in that house for a year or two. And then they, but they really also wanted that investment. So, they want it under market value with add value potential and a really good growth pocket of Newcastle. So, it’s exciting. There are people that are coming to me, they also want to live there for a year or two, but they, and it’s hard to find that if you don’t know what you’re, what you’re talking about. so that’s been really enjoyable. And actually my first client just the other day, I actually helped him move into his first house. it was, he was moving from up the Valley, incest snuck, uh, into Newcastle into the beaches and he was, he was stoked. We’ve got a really good Breno job for him. They’re a really good add value potential. and he didn’t have a truck. He didn’t really, hadn’t moved before. And I said, look, mate, my, my father’s got a truck, I’ll come out. So, I drove the truck out and spend all Friday helping him move in and just stuff like that made it really gets me going. Yeah.

Ben Handler:

That’s awesome. I mean, that’s great that you know, in your own time, uh, you just help the client and that’s, that’s part of what we do, right? It’s the service, it’s the relationship we build. It’s obviously the love for what we do as well. And as you said earlier, the client, as you said earlier, the clients come first and it’s all about the client experience and the first-class service, right? 100%. So, five of the seven properties, principal place of residence. It’s interesting, there are quite a few buyer’s agents who start off love investment. I only really have bought investment and then they think they’re only gonna focus on investment. And I’ve seen that transition that goes naturally and organically into PPOR. Why do you think that is?

George O’Brien:

I think especially when for someone like myself who is just getting started, from a business point of view and in a small market like Newcastle, I, I am an expert in that market, in the Newcastle and Hunter Valley market. and I just, I think that a lot of people there, eh, to be honest, I don’t think that they know about property investing. There’s not much awareness around like there is podcasts and books and it’s, it’s really, really coming along. But I don’t think a lot of people that I’m dealing with a fully aware of it, aware of it until they sit down with me and I say, look, mate, you’ve already like your changing from this PPOR to this PPO. Ah, why don’t you hold that and buy this? And then, and that’s what I’m talking about, the hybrid sort of, building your PPOR into your investment strategy.

 

I think for myself as an investor, like if, if sophisticated investors want to use a buyer’s agent, they might want someone a little bit more experienced or diversified across the States, which I 100% plan to get to. And I understand that they want to use people like that. but for first-time investors or younger investors, I think, they’re, they’re definitely happy to come on board and use someone like myself that they can relate to. And they’re not just another cog in the, in the, in the clock or whatever the term is. So I don’t know if that answers your question, but yeah, yeah, no, I think there’s obviously this client’s just going to grab it, gravitate to you and if they’d like and trust you and feel like you’re the right person, help them buy that Hamlet family home. And you said it’s also a hybrid earlier.

George O’Brien:

So, I’m aware of that. How that works in the sense of they want to live in it for a period of time with this transition exit strategy of then renting it out. So I think it does serve the purpose. What would you say, well, how would you describe your mindset at the moment? Really, really positive and abundant.  I wasn’t coming from a great place when I had my, my nine to five job. and it took a sort of the travelling and starting this business to really open my mind up a lot. but my mindset is just, I, when I want to do something, I struggled to do anything until I get to that point. So with anything in life that I’ve, that I’ve sort of planned to do, whether it be investing in property or getting, being the best at my job or getting a girlfriend, whatever it is, you know, like I, I have to get there and do that.

So I’m super driven at the moment, to, to be the best in my field, to be, to, to pick the store, sort of niche in Newcastle. and obviously expand on that nationally and con, with commercial property, all that sort of stuff. But I’m really driven to be that, that key person of influence in my industry at the moment and my mindset, the things that I do to help my mindset each day is I like to wake up at five o’clock every morning. I have a cold shower, do some breathing, a bit of meditation. if I’ve got time, uh, I do a little bit of yoga, but I really like to go and do CrossFit. first thing in the morning if I cannot do it in the afternoon, but that hour I wouldn’t be real CrossFitter if I didn’t tell you I was doing CrossFit with.

But that hour of just being in what we call the pain cave is what just sets me for the day. Like I, I just go in there and get absolutely tortured for an hour and I love it. It’s, it’s the, it’s like a form of meditation because I’m not thinking about business. I’m not thinking about family, I’m not thinking about bigger issues in the world. I’m focused on staying alive in that hour and it just really sets my, my, my mindset and my hormones, all that sort of stuff for the day and, and allows me to, yeah, be, be successful. So I’m really into all that sort of stuff. I also believe your diet and exercise and, and building your, your knowledge base. So self-development stuff had played a big part and it’s a, it’s a holistic approach to running a business and investing, I believe. Yeah, it all, it all integrates, right?

Ben Handler:

So, you’ve obviously got the morning routine down Pat and you know, talking about CrossFit and exercising and it all gives releases the endorphins.

 

George O’Brien:
Yeah, there’s the dopamine as well. What about starting a business? Like getting out of mining and just changing your career and running a new business and doing what you love? Like that must be releasing some happy chemicals like Oh, absolutely. at the end of each day, uh, I just look back on where I, what I have done that day and the things that have happened and every day is just a new day. I’m obviously still learning. every day I’m learning new things, but just to be able to work my own hours. So I get up really early to do that sort of stuff and just batch my work. smash it out, go for a surf, smash it out, go for a run and then, and, and to be able to be dealing with clients, and, and bringing them positive outcomes and really changing their lives. That’s what I’m, we’re in the business of doing, is just super, super satisfying. And for me to be there pulling the strings, I’m in control of all that in control of possibly the biggest investment that someone will make. Yeah. The biggest purchase in their life is a super fulfilling it. It’s a, I can be taxing, and, and a little bit emotional because I want really good outcomes for more clients. but at the end of the day, it’s just, I can’t even explain the feeling. It’s super fulfilling. And, and at the end of the day, that’s, that’s what I was after, a higher purpose and to be fulfilled in day to day life. In terms of gratitude. Are you, things are probably moving so quickly for you.

Ben Handler:

Do you, do you recognize yourself and are you grateful for the lifestyle now? So you said you want to have the coffee, do the CrossFit not work for someone?

 

George O’Brien:

Like it’s funny when I was mining, that’s all I wanted. I just wanted to be able to wake up at whatever time I wanted to go to the gym. have a coffee or a surf and just, and flick through my emails and, and lean into the day. but now I find myself, just up straight into the emails that I have to stop and, and take a look in. Uh, I, I’ll get really harsh on myself, saying that I want to make X amount of, of, purchases for people before the end of the financial year. and, and I struggled sometimes to look back on what I have done in such a short period of time cause I’m conscious, I, I’m always looking forward. But I do sit down and usually once a week, uh, with my girlfriend because it takes it, it does take a toll on the relationship as well, the business side of things. But it’s all positive. We’re, we’re working towards a higher goal. But yeah, once a week we sit down and reflect and do some gratitude stuff and it really, really helps cause it all is about perspective as you know, on everything in life, especially business. but for the, for, for my business, and what I’m trying to do with future property co, I, I’ve got a real niche of young people that I’m, I’m aiming for. I believe that when you’re young if you can just build like there are so many people that get stuck in the nine to five and then they drink alcohol all weekend. and they’re stuck in this, right?

But they truly don’t know any different. if I can just show you like younger people through my Instagram stuff through meeting them for coffee, even if they don’t have a deposit, nothing through doing some YouTube videos and this type of stuff, if they can just see what I’m doing and realize that that’s not, they don’t have to do that. all it takes is to save up a little deposit while that you have to grind to start off with. But all it takes is just to save up a little deposit, put your money in the right markets at the right time by the right asset and use it. Use a professional. and if you can, if you can get that first one right, over the next couple of years, you can go again and go again and really build that asset base. And then by the time you’re 25, 30 years old, you can have a really strong asset base behind you and you can do whatever you want.

But I think the secret is really getting started early and a lot of people just don’t know. So I really want to get the awareness out there and show people that it is possible, and, and change their life. Cause I was stuck in that, that, that works. and, and having a beer have a weekend and no real goals. You sort of buying your house by the time you’re 40, you pay it, you’d have it paid off by the time you’re 60. If you’re lucky, then you live off your super. I don’t want that for myself. Uh, and I know I change that and I found a way to change that and I want to show other people, but not, that’s not for everyone. Some people are happy living day today. I have friends that are super duper happy, just working nine to five have their own PPOR. That’s fine, but for people who do want better and feel like they don’t have an outlet, I really, it’s a, it’s my mission to find them and show them how easy it is and how successful you can be if you start early and have the time in the market,

Ben Handler:

It’s a very powerful mission. Yeah. I guess especially you’ve been there, you’ve changed your life and now empowering and I guess creating awareness for the younger generation to actually understand there is that different way because you’re right there, they’re stuck in this rut. They think that it, that’s it, and then they just, it’s, it’s kind of like a mouse just running around and it’s hard to get out of if you don’t know any different. Obviously, there are two parts of it you can hear. Invest in property or start your own business. And I just think if you invest in property early, that leaves, having that asset base can lead to starting your own business. And obviously, from listening to a lot of podcasts and a couple of books and all that sort of stuff, it’s, it’s a, I’m of the mindset that there is a massive market in the next five to 10 years for people to be creating micro-businesses and doing their own like micro niches and creating their own businesses and living theirs. Obviously it’s the age of the entrepreneur and there’s just so much opportunity out there for people, but they just think it’s normal to work in a job. and yeah, it can be really unfulfilling for some people. So hopefully, yeah, I can lead the way a little bit in that respect.

 

We are, you already are. I mean, you’ve jumped out of what you were doing made the leap. And so, you already lead leading by example and I think that’s going to be inspiring for people to want to follow your path. And I’m sure like you, you’ve got a good social following, you’re getting good presence, you got good marketing now. So over time, it’s gonna it’s going to create more impact, right? Yeah. Yeah, for sure. That’s the plan. What are the plans? Last question. What are plans this year for future property code?

 

George O’Brien:

So for this year I really want to, between now and the end of the financial year, obviously get as many clients on board as I can, but really build my, my brand, the future property code brand in Newcastle. and really dig deep there. with, with clients coming on board in the first couple of months I’ve found it hard to get out and build my B2B relationships with brokers and real estate agents and managing agents, all that sort of stuff.

So, I really just want to build my presence and be, be known as the buyer’s agent in Newcastle, not only for first home buyers but for fifth sophisticated investors upsizes down. So as is all that sort of stuff. So, but by the end of the financial year, I really want to want to be there and have everyone know who I am and be that trusted name. and then from there on forward, I really want to start. I’ve, I’ve got plans to travel up to Brizzy and spend a bit of time there, a bit of time in Adelaide, Perth, a couple of different regional markets and just get on the ground there and and do my own sort of DD and find, find out what little pockets are, uh, working, and hopefully expand the business nationally so people can come to me from Newcastle or elsewhere and I can, source really good premium investments for them nationwide.

And also diversify into commercial as well. I haven’t ever bought commercial stuff for myself, but I, I’ve read a lot about it. I’m super interested in it. So, I really just wanna just expand, but, but not, expand so much and scale so much that I, that I lose focus. I really still want to be a boutique brand, uh, and do really quality deals for people. But yeah, but that, that’s the general overview for this year. But really exciting.

 

Ben Handler:

Yeah. Well, I mean you’ve signed seven so quick. I mean, yeah, be scary to think what happens at the end of 12 months. You could have a team of seven. So where can people find you in future property? Car?

 

George O’Brien :
Yeah, so I do most of my stuff on Instagram, which is GeorgeO’Brien_buyersagent and the other places you can find me for the businesses, www.futurepropertyco.com.au

I’m also on LinkedIn. Uh, if guys want to connect with me there and Facebook is Future Property Co. So, I try and spread myself evenly across the platforms. Yeah. Good stuff. Mobile done.

 

Ben Handler:

Yeah, it’s great to have you. And just again, inspiring to see people like you get out of the rat race made and stuff. Yeah. Cheers. I just want to say for, for young people that are getting started, people like yourself and uh, and mentors I think are just a huge thing, to, to be able to talk to people that have been there and done that can really reduce the amount of time it takes to be successful in the number of mistakes that you make. Just by leaning into other people, having those mentors there and it doesn’t take much just to reach out and nine times out of 10, they will help you out. So, yourself, my brother, a few other business mentors that I’ve had, really, really helpful. Helpful. So thank you. Thanks for appreciating it. Yeah. You know, Tony Robbins says success leaves clues and find people who’ve done it and just get there.

 

George O’Brien:

Yeah, 100% good stuff, Mike. Thanks. Yeah, thanks for having me.

Ben Handler:

You’re welcome. So wrapping up today, George O’Brien, you can check him out. You can see on the screen where you can find him to understand more about George. I have to me, I mean he screams authenticity. He’s someone who’s just very humble, very real. And at his age, owning four properties. Most people in Australia don’t even own two. And so he’s actually been there, done that. Uh, he’s super committed to his clients. Just hearing about how he spent a whole day on Friday just helping one of his clients move properties, just using his time. You know, we can’t buy time. So giving out his time to help his clients is a, to me, a true indication of how much he cares in our communities to his work. So check out George. He is going to tear it up. He’s focused in Newcastle now, but he will be expanding soon. So reach out, follow him online. See you next week.

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