A rebellious financial expert, Lesley Batson, is challenging the herd mentality around finance with knowledge, empowering professionals, investors, and small business owners to take control of their finances – but when she dives into her own real estate investing project with a friend, she learns the hard lesson of why you always need a written agreement.
Listen to the podcast
- Leveraging whole life insurance to build assets
- Discover how to gain a broader view of economics and money management, and learn how to make the best financial decisions
- Understand the importance of having written agreements and learn how to protect relationships and investments
Welcome to the Real Estate Investor Goddesses Podcast. I’m your host Monick Halm, and on this show, I interview amazing women who are rocking it in the field of investing and money.
And I’m super excited today to have with me, Lesley Batson, who is a registered financial consultant and the CEO and chief wealth strategist at Rebel Rock Wealth, a wealth strategy firm, as independent bankers. She’s a financial professional, trusted advisor, and inspiring speaker who’s disrupting the herd mentality around personal and business finance. With candor and the approach that knowledge is power, she educates professionals, investors and small business owners about how to truly take control of their finances. She offers workshops and her Rebel Rock coaching program. She’s also an authorized practitioner of the infinite banking concept. A strategy is to build and leverage assets using whole life insurance. Welcome, Lesley.
Thank you, Monik. Glad we could connect.
I’m glad you’re here. They asked you this question really briefly before we got rolling, but tell us a little bit about your experience with real estate investing.
Sure. So I used to do real estate investing way back in the day. So I live in Orlando, Florida now, but I used to live in Chicago. And when I was working, I did some real estate investing there. So buying properties, fixing them up, and then putting renters in there. But that was many moons ago. Don’t have those properties anymore. But now that I’ve been running this business, Rebel Rock Wealth, which keeps me very busy, I have less time to be an active investor in that way. I primarily do private lending with bridge loans, mezzanine loans, those types of things, where I still have collateralized investments, but I don’t have to be as actively involved with them on the day to day. So that’s really where my focus on real estate investing is right now.
Yeah, your money is working for you, so you don’t have to work for your money.
I like it. All right, so what are you currently working on that most excites you?
Well, actually, we just confirmed a date to launch our event series that we’re going to be doing starting in 2023. So we’re kind of excited about that. Our first one is going to be March 24, here in Orlando, Florida, and just for women, as a matter of fact. But the series is called Yield.
And so, Yield, because it has multiple meanings, kind of really fits well. I think if we think of yield as far as if we’re merging into traffic, we slow down, we take a look, make sure it’s okay, proceed with caution. But then also on the finance side, that you can yield a return or a means of earnings, that type of thing. So it’s really those two things. What I’m hoping is that this event kind of serves as I think of it as a mini MBA in personal finance.
And so you’re going to be able to hear not just the stuff, not just me talking, but I have other people there, so we can have really comprehensive learning so that people can understand how I say it is, how money really works. I think we all are kind of in our little spaces, but we don’t always understand how the system or the environment around that space works. And so we may not always make the best financial decisions because we just don’t know. And we don’t know what we don’t know. So this is really an event series to help people kind of have a more broader view. A little bit of history, a little bit of economics, and a lot of strategy. Kind of how I think of it.
I’m excited to finally get that series launched.
Very cool. I’m curious, what do you think is one of the biggest myths that people have around money or something that they don’t know?
Yeah. Well, it’s things like the example I like to use the most because everyone is familiar with it. We go to school, we’re educated, we are graded on how well we can pass tests. And those tests are based on how well can you fit into a system where you will be an employee, right?
So you can become an employee and go work for someone else and help them build their empire, which is fine. Some people love that career track. Some people want to be entrepreneurial. So it’s not a discussion about that. It’s more of they train us how to go out and earn money, but not how to actually manage it.
So for most people, as soon as they graduate, they get their first job. And nowadays, even more and more companies are doing it, they’re automatically enrolling them into a 401(k) or 403(b) if you’re at a hospital or nonprofit or something like that. They have no idea what that person’s financial situation is. Nowadays, they might have tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and right now might not be the best time for them to be actually investing, right?
So there’s this whole belief out here like the sooner you start, the better it’s going to be. And just understand that the market goes up and down and that’s just expected. And I always think, “Why is that okay? Why are we okay with that?” It’s like if I’m someone who’s $20,000- $30,000 worth of student loan debt, that might be at four, five, six, or 8%, and I’m hopefully going to earn six, seven, 8% in the market, does it really make sense?
The quickest immediate return on your investment in anyone’s overall portfolio is to pay down or pay off their debt? So it might be for that person coming out of school that they should be first focus on paying down some debt, building up some savings and then investing. Because I always say the difference between savings and investing is that savings is where your principal is secure and it’s safe and you know that you can get to it. The trade off is you may not be earning a whole lot, but at least you know that money is there. The investment is where you’re really trying to multiply those dollars and help it to grow, but you also know that you’re putting it at risk. So you shouldn’t really be investing money that you can’t afford to lose.
And for some people, like I said, if they’re just coming out of school or something, they’re not really in a position yet to put money somewhere where they can afford to lose it. So it’s just little things like that. We’re kind of just told to do it. 401(k) is like the golden ticket to your retirement and it’s just not necessarily true for a lot of people, especially for higher income earners. It’s definitely not going to be the smartest place to put your money because of the tax consequences.
Yeah, that’s one of the reasons I love real estate, is the tax benefits of it.
Let me ask you a question. What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
With my business or just in general?
Well, I usually ask about this in the context of real estate, but yeah, you can talk about a real estate mistake or a financial mistake.
Well, I have a great story for real estate because back, like I said, when I was doing real estate investing in Chicago, I was younger and I got into a project with a friend and we said, “Hey, let’s buy this unit.” We both lived in the same building and unfortunately, one of our neighbors passed away and we said, “Hey, let’s acquire her property. Get it. Her family didn’t want to have to deal with it and let’s fix up and sell it.”
Well, we were friends. We didn’t have any kind of written agreement, right? No written agreement at all. We pooled our money and did all the repairs and all that. But it kind of sat and sat. My suggestion was, “Well, let’s just rent it,” out because it’s Chicago, right? People don’t really do a lot of the house in the winter, that kind of thing. So I said, “Okay, let’s just rent it out and when summer comes, let’s put it back on the market. We could probably get someone who’s investor to be interested in it to already have a renter,” blah, blah, blah. And he was like, “Oh no, I’m not holding on to this thing. I need to sell, we need to sell.” And that became a point of contention. We’re friendly today, but we’re certainly not the great friends that we were. And so that was a really hard lesson. For those of you listening, if you get into and it is business. We didn’t really think of it as business, but get into business with friends, make sure you discuss all these different…
Exactly. That’s true. With anybody.
Anybody you want, written agreements, but you’re with people you love and care about.
That will save your relationship.
Absolutely. So like I said, we’re friendly, but I think just because we have so many friends in common and I don’t really live in Chicago anymore, we don’t really bump into each other. But it was very tense and very uncomfortable. We lived in the same building and it was just unfortunate because we were such good friends. But that money decision or lack of discussion ahead of time, there was a big…
The problem is and you want to do something or I want it like who decides?
Even when we decided because it was sitting so long, I was like, “Maybe we should go with a different realtor.” And he’s like, “Oh no, she’s going to be…” and I’m like, “Nothing’s happening, we should switch to someone else.” So all those kind of things we did not talk about ahead of time. So lesson learned.
Yeah, that is a huge, huge..
What are you most proud of?
Honestly, I would say I’m most proud of Rebel Rock Wealth, to be honest. I started it. So prior to this, I worked in IT. My whole career. I worked 20 years in IT before I converted and did this business full time. I learned about this… the core of what I do is infinite banking. I learned about infinite banking from real estate investing podcasts because my whole thought was I’m going to start to just do more real estate investing again once I was down here in Florida because I didn’t really believe in the market and 401(k) wasn’t panning out.
So I thought, let me just get back into real estate investing. I started listening to podcasts and that’s when I heard about infinite banking. I thought, ” Huh? I’ve never heard of this and I’m sure most of my friends haven’t. People I know. I really want to learn more about this.”
Do you want to try to explain what infinite banking is?
I mean, not always the easiest thing to do [crosstalk]
The highest level, especially those who are familiar with real estate investing at the highest level, it’s about putting an asset in place that you are able to leverage. It’s just that whole life insurance specifically is a type of asset that has longevity. It’s a legacy play. If the policy is structured a certain way, it’s going to build up cash value. Think of it as the equity. Just like if you have a home, over time, your home appreciates and you get equity and you’re able to take a HELOC based on equity in your home. The cash value that’s growing inside of your policy is like the equity of your policy. So you’re able to leverage that equity and deploy it for investments or other emergencies or whatever you want to use it for.
But the difference between that and leveraging different types of assets is that you’re not really… how do I say it, your cash value is still sitting inside of the policy and it gets to continue to grow. So it’s like an uninterrupted compounding of growth inside of the policy. Now obviously, you’re going to borrow the money at a rate at some cost, where if you borrow it from the insurance company directly or like I have strategic partner banks that I work with who may offer lower rates, but there’s a cost to borrow that money. However, your money gets to continue to grow inside of it.
So going back to the 401(k), if you were to take a loan from your 401(k), your balance is going to drop by the amount of money that you borrow because you’re borrowing your own money. If you’re taking a policy loan with whole life insurance, you’re borrowing whether it’s the insurance company or the bank’s money, someone else’s money, so your money continues to grow. So what you’re really doing is building an asset that not only you get to take advantage of while you’re alive, but there’s a legacy plate in that you are able to transfer that wealth when you pass away income tax free. So that’s at the simplest level, that’s what infinite baking is.
And so what it’s saying is you’re going to borrow it, let’s say you borrow it at 4% from the insurance carrier, but then you deploy it into an investment where you’re earning 7, 8, 12, 20, whatever percent. It’s an infinite loop. You’re borrowing it at a lower rate, but you’re earning it at a higher rate and it’s just you’re infinitely borrowing and putting back. Borrowing and putting back, yeah.
And then it’s growing and the principles in there is growing.
I have an infinite banking policy which I love and I use for investing and that was such a good job of explaining it pretty quickly because it can be a lie. It took me a long time to fully wrap my head around it.
It is tricky because it’s not like a regular account that most of us are familiar with, especially education involved.
It’s a very different paradigm, too, of using money than we’re taught that we think about.
Just to answer your question, I was really excited when I learned about the concept because I thought it’s a great career, but it’s extremely taxing and very stressful and I was really starting to get burnt out and I want you to do something different. I thought, “Okay, maybe I could do this as a business.” So I started to do it like part time. But then like I said, it just started to really work out really well for me.
I went full time into April 2020 during COVID which was good. And it was good, really, because a lot of people were thinking about, what if I were to pass away? What if I were to get sick? So people were really focused on their finances, and so it was a really good time for me to be full time in the business, and it’s really just grown. And I’ve just been able to help so many families and so many real estate investors, business owners, that kind of thing, to understand the concept and help them put it in place. So that’s been great.
That’s good. That’s really good. To what do you attribute your success?
Honestly, I think it’s because I was sitting in the seat where a lot of my clients were. Like I said, I was a career person for 20 years. My mind hasn’t been zapped with all the sort of jargon of the finance industry and all of that. I feel like I can just speak very plainly to people and they can understand. Like you said, it was a clear explanation of infinite banking. I just feel like I can relate to them in different ways because I sat where they’re sitting now. I can help them understand, like, “Well, here are some things that…” and that’s where the Rebel comes from in my business name.
Because usually I’m showing them things or concepts that say, “Here’s what we’ve kind of always been told, but this is what this really means.” So now that you have this proper understanding of what it is, is this still a good fit for you? If it isn’t, here are some other options that we can consider and then we can kind of work that way. So I think that’s where my successes come in is I’m very transparent. I really believe in the education part of it because I don’t think it’s wise, which most of us do, right. I don’t think it’s wise for us to jump into something we don’t fully understand it. We should understand it before we move forward. So I think that approach has helped.
Great. Okay, now it’s time for our advice round. Let me ask you a few questions about advice. So what’s the best life advice you’ve ever received?
If it feels scary, do it anyway. Like this, right? Switching careers. I’ve never had a business in this way before, but I jumped in and believed in myself. I mean, I was smart about it, right? I didn’t just jump into it. I had a kind of plan to save up and jump into it. But it was scary. It was definitely scary. Very scary to go from, like a regular direct deposit into your bank account to all of a sudden, if you don’t close that deal, you’re not going to eat. So that was a very different kind of scary transition, but it’s all worked out great.
If you’re scared, do it anyway. Yeah. I think your fear points to you. What you want is right on the other side of your fear. So it’s just the way what you’re looking at. Okay, next question. What’s the worst advice you could give someone?
The worst advice? I don’t know if I feel comfortable saying that. No, I don’t know. Maybe it’s what I… and maybe it’s kind of what I alluded to earlier, is don’t kind of follow the crowd and do something. I think of the whole FTX fiasco…
The worst advice would be follow the crowd and do exactly what you’re doing.
Exactly. Without doing your own due diligence. This whole FTX crypto fiasco is a perfect example. You’ve had all these celebrities, and athletes and business people who were endorsing and promoting this thing, but there was nothing. It was a smokescreen, right? It was a smokescreen. There was no compliance. There was nothing behind it.
And Kevin O’Leary, one of the sharks on Shark Tank, who he admitted saw an interview on CNBC, he admitted he lost 15 million in the deal of his own money, and he admitted that. He said it was groupthink. He called it groupthink, where kind of saw all these other people who he really trusted and thought were really smart and they know what they’re doing. “Hey, I should jump on this train, too.” I think that’s probably one of the worst things to do is just jump into something because other people are doing it. Take a pause, take a beat.
I tell people all the time, don’t have FOMO when it comes to investing, there’s always going to be an investment opportunity. Make sure that you take advantage of it when you are ready. When you are ready.
No deal is so much better than a bad deal.
All right. Okay. So the worst advice is do exactly what the whole herd is doing, especially when you don’t understand what they’re doing.
Exactly. Like, “Well, she’s smart. Let me do what she’s doing.” It might be good for her and her situation, but it might not be good for you.
Yeah, all right. Good. And who do you turn to for advice?
Well, I have been very fortunate to find some great coaches in my industry and mentors. I think that’s what’s really helped me kind of scale so quickly. Very, very fortunate. And I think they kind of protect me because there are still some things I’m like I don’t know what I don’t know. I didn’t grow up in this financial industry, and I might ask a question like, “Oh, well, what about this? Should I get this license?” And be like, “No, don’t do that, don’t do this,” like don’t do this, don’t do that and they explain why.
What your special sauce is, is that you haven’t been trained in the way that the other people who’ve been in the industry. You have a very fresh approach and a very kind of outsider approach. You want to keep that. You don’t want to kind of do what everyone else is doing. I think it’s really important to have great coaches and great mentors around you, no matter what industry or what business or whatever you do, whatever career.
Awesome. What’s the best advice you have for a woman who’s starting out in real estate and investing?
Well, I would say go to programs like yours, get as much education, learn about all the different ways that you can invest in real estate. At one point, all we thought there was was rentals, but there are so many different ways that you can invest in real estate. I shared, I do more bridge loans and mezzanine loans. I don’t have to be actively involved. Some people want it. They want to deal with the tenants and the toilets. That’s up to them.
But I would say first, understand what do you learn about the different types of real estate investing? If it’s real estate that you want to do, figure out what best speaks to you. Be realistic with what time you have available. So if you don’t have time to chase tenants, especially if you live in California and your properties in Ohio, make sure you have a great property manager who is going to take care of things and not going to be calling you in the middle of the night.
Make sure you understand that. Make sure you understand all the costs that are involved. Make sure that your money isn’t ordered. Make sure you’ve worked with someone, maybe a wealth strategist like myself, who says, “Okay, here’s what your overall financial picture looks like. You want to do real estate investing. Let’s deploy this strategy to acquire this first property,” or whatever is the situation. Have a team, have a great real estate attorney. Possibly have a great CPA who understands real estate investing. Things like be smart, get your resources together before you jump in. Like I said, don’t have FOMO. It’s always good to kind of have your ducks in a row and have a strategy before you attack.
So good. Awesome. Well, before we get into our famed end of show Trinity Questions, what is the best way for people to find out more about what you do and get in touch?
Yeah, they can go to my website, rebelrockwealth.com. They can find me on LinkedIn, Lesley Batson. Yeah, I’m on Instagram. I don’t post a lot, but I hope to do more of that. If they want to learn more about the event series, they can go to timetoyield.com and get all the information there. Yeah, those are the best ways to find me.
Okay, great. All right, so now it’s time for the trinity questions, if this is a brag, gratitude and desire. So what is one thing that you’re celebrating right now? What’s your brag?
Celebrating? My goodness. Honestly, I’m celebrating that I get to pack my bag. Well, at first I’m trying to figure out how I can fit all the stuff in my suitcases, but I am trying to pack my bags, and I fly home next Friday to see spoiled, my little twin nephews and see my parents and my family just celebrating how well this year has gone for me personally with the business and getting to end the year with my family.
Beautiful. Well, bragged. And what’s one thing you’re grateful for?
I’m grateful to have a really great group of friends, women friends and male friends who have really been cheerleaders and ambassadors for me. Not just for my business, but just for me, keeping me motivated and excited, being able to support them in what they’re doing. I mean, all those things are really, really, I think, important. Keeping us all energized and doing whatever it is that we’re all doing on a day to day basis.
Awesome. So good. And last but not least, what is one thing you desire?
Well, let’s see. I probably have no control over this at all, but I would like to see more kindness in the world. I’d like to see a little less tension in the world. I’d like to see people. I really desire that we can all listen before we judge. Not judge people, not judge a book by its cover. I think there’s just so much for us to gain in getting to know each other than just judging or just avoiding, not talking. Communication is so important, and however we want to grow, whether it’s in our homes, as just individuals, in our businesses, whatever it is, we have to be open to listening. And part of that means just exercise some kindness. Just be nice.
Beautiful desire. So shall your desire be worth so much better than you can imagine.
Thank you. What a great interview. You can connect with Lesley Batson at rebelrockwealh.com or find Lesley on LinkedIn or find out more about her event at timestoyield.com and look on social. And you can find us at Real Estate Investor. Actually reigoddesses.com and @reigoddesses on the social. Definitely like and subscribe to the podcast so that you can hear another amazing Real Estate Investor Goddess podcast interview like this one. Bye-bye. Thank you.
Bye, Monick. Thank you.
Connect with Lesley:
Rebel Rock Wealth: https://www.rebelrockwealth.com/