Ep #9 | The Science of Achievement is in the Art of Fulfillment


Rod Khleif is an entrepreneur, real estate investor, multiple business owner, author, mentor, and community philanthropist who is passionate about business, life, success, and giving back. As one of the country’s top real estate investors, Rod has personally owned and managed over 2,000 apartments and homes. 



Shantel: Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Imagine More podcast. Today we have my uncle, Rod with us.

Rod: How exciting.

Shantel: I know.

Rod: Hi, sweetheart. It's so fun to have a podcast interview with you.

Shantel: Yeah, I'm excited for the listeners to hear all about your story, and we can dive right in. Can you tell everyone a little bit about what you have going on right now?


Rod: Sure. Well, so I've got a podcast as well, and we're blessed. We're number one in the real estate space on iTunes. We've got about to hit two million downloads, and it's been a lot of fun. I never planned it to go to that magnitude, but it's just been a blast. I'm actively acquiring real estate. That's my background. Life is fantastic, sweetie. That's what's going on.

Shantel: That's exciting. Well, I want to dive a little bit more into the podcast. We have had a few guests on the show that also have podcasts, but haven't actually dove into the logistics and what inspired it. Can you tell everyone a little bit about what inspired the journey to the podcast-

Rod: Well, if you don't mind, let me go way back and just talk about my story in general because it'll add a framework for your listeners. I immigrated to this country with your dad and my mom when I was six years old. We didn't have much. We ended up in Denver, Colorado, and we didn't have a lot of money. We grew up wearing clothes from the Goodwill and drinking powdered milk and eating expired bread because that was all we could afford, and I knew I wanted more. I know a lot of people have had it a lot worse than we did, but I knew that I wanted more. I watched my mom buy the house across the street from us when I was 14, and she paid around 50 something thousand. 52, 54,000, but what I remember was when I was 17 about to graduate from high school, she told me it had gone up $20,000 in value, and I'm like, "What?" She made 20 grand without doing anything, and right then and there, I knew I was going to get into real estate, so I got my brokers license. I didn't make much money my first couple of years. My third year I met somebody that taught me about the psychology of success and confidence and I did really, really well. Fast forward to right now, I've owned over 200,000 houses and multiple apartment buildings, and I've got an interesting story about some seminars I've had in the past. I don't call them failures. I call them seminars, but I had a big one in 2008, which is, well, in fact, let me just talk about it right now, Shan, because it lends to your question, why I started the podcast. In 2006, my net worth went up 17 million dollars. If you want to do the math on that, it's about $3,800 an hour. Of course, I did the math on that. When you have something like that happen in your life, you get a big head, and you think you're, in my case I thought I was a real estate god. I was focused on the value of the real estate instead of the cashflow of the real estate and because of that, when 2008 hit, I imploded. Like many people, but it was very, very painful. It was a 50 million dollar seminar for me, but what was interesting was I had 800 houses and I had multiple apartment buildings. My houses crashed and burned, but my apartments cash flowed. They did just fine through the contraction, and so that's the main reason that I started the podcast was to tell people that if you're going to invest in real estate long term, I recommend that you do multifamily instead of single family because of my seminar. I started the podcast with the intention to teach people about my lessons. I spent 16 years with Tony Robbins and following him around the planet, and I got certified as a high performance coach last year because I love talking about the psychology of success. 80% of your success in anything is your psychology. Only 20% is the mechanics, like the real estate or the business. Those of you listening, it's very, very important that you get your mindset right first. You figure out what it is you want and why you want it so that you take action, number one, or in my case, so that you get back up after you get your nose bloodied. I love talking about the psychology of success on my podcast too, so I do an interview section with an expert in the real estate space, and then secondly I do a piece on the psychology of success, so I have two episodes every week. The psychology one's only about five minutes, but the interview's typically about 30 or 40 minutes. I've interviewed people anywhere from people that have owned a duplex to people that have owned 45,000 units and everything in between. I just love it. I love talking about real estate. It's my passion, and those of you listening, whatever you do, do what you love because if you love it, it's going to do well. There you go.

Shantel: Well, I love the terminology behind the word failure that you use, so seminar is the word that you use instead. Where did that come about and who did you learn that from or when did you pick that up and really start reframing your thought process behind that?


Rod: Well, any failure is a learning experience. Life throws things at you, but you decide the meaning you place on it, okay? Two people can experience the exact same event and place entirely different meanings on that event. In fact, they've done studies of for example, I remember a story just briefly here where these two twins had a father that ended up in jail. He was just a lifetime criminal, and they followed these two twin sons, and one of them ended up just like the father, in jail and as a criminal, and the other one had his own computer business and a successful family, and they asked each one of them why they ended up the way they did, and they both answered the same way. "With a father like mine, how could I have ended up any differently?" What they did was they placed different meanings on the event. I would rather reframe a failure as a learning experience, and I've done that because I've owned 22 businesses in my lifetime that I've built. Some have been worth tens of millions of dollars, and some have been spectacular failures, seminars. You have to have, if you're an entrepreneur like I am and you have that shiny penny syndrome where if something looks exciting, you want to take action on it, you have to be able to recover from failures. In fact, I will tell you one other thing. I got to meet Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx recently who took her $5,000 investment and now it's a billion dollar company that she owns 100% of, but she said something that really stuck with me. She said her father, every time she came home from school would ask her and her siblings what they failed at today. I just thought, and that kind of ties into this conversation. I just thought that was such a cool question because anybody that's succeeded in anything has failed multiple times. Again, but you reframe it to call it a seminar because that's what it is.

Shantel: Absolutely. One of our podcast guests, Jen Jacobs actually created a book, and it's called How I Failed Today, and it's a daily journal about just reflecting because you learn so much from those seminars or the failures.

Rod: Oh, I love it.

Shantel: I'll send you a copy for sure.

Rod: Love it.

Shantel: You mentioned 22 businesses and prior to that, speaking with passion. Were you passionate about all 22 or was there an opportunity and you jumped on it?


Rod: Well, when you jump on an opportunity, there's always passion involved. You feel like it's going to be a huge success and you go in full bore. I tell you, and you get lessons along the way. I remember that because of the shiny penny syndrome, it's so easy to be focused on something and then dilute that focus by focusing on something else, and that's always a mistake. Those of you that have a business, if you're an entrepreneur and you see something that attracts your attention that could dilute your focus, be very, very cautious because any time that I've suffered in my businesses, it's typically been when I've taken on too much and diluted my focus because where focus goes, energy flows, and if you're not focused on something or you don't have the ability to really carve up and chunk your time or I guess the alternative would be if you're aligned with somebody that can run it for you. Otherwise, you don't want to dilute your focus. Yes, to answer your question, there's always been passion, and maybe too much passion sometimes because it's diverted my focus away from whatever core business I was working on at that time. Let me share something with your listeners if I may about-

Shantel: Of course.

Rod: Really about how I was able to have the failure that I had, how I was able to get up every time I failed or had a seminar in a business, and really what I did was I used visualization. Would you like me to share with your listeners how I do that and what I've done over the years with that?

Shantel: I would love that. Yeah, please.


Rod: All right. I'll tell you a story, and I will tell you, let me pre frame this by saying some of these examples may feel like I'm boasting, and that is not at all my intent. It's really just to share with your listeners what I used in my life to get what I wanted. I'll go back to when I turned 18. I was in real estate and I thought to be a real estate broker that you had to have a four door car, so I had this bone ugly four door Granada, and it was as ugly as they come, and if you work for Ford, I apologize, but you know what I mean anyway. You know it's true. Anyway, so I had this Ford Granada, and I worked with a guy that had a Corvette, and he let me drive his Corvette one time, and then it was like, "I've got to have this." I got a picture of a Corvette, and of course back then there wasn't the internet. I had to cut it out of a magazine, and I put it on the visor of my four door Grenada, and within a year or two, I had a beautiful burgundy Corvette. Then that was back when the TV program Magnum PI was airing, and there was a guy, the actor's name was Tom Selleck, and he drove a Ferrari 308, and I just thought that was the coolest thing I'd ever seen in my life, so I got a picture of that actual Ferrari out of a magazine and put it on the visor of my Corvette. Two years later, I had a Maserati, again, it looked just like that Ferrari. I'll give you one more example, and again, these things don't motivate me anymore. I just want to clarify that for your listeners. These sound pompous, but back then, they were interesting to me. They aren't anymore, but I'm the guy that always had the pictures of the Lamborghinis in his bedroom, you know with the bikini girls and the Lamborghinis. That's me. I have to admit that, but what was interesting is my son collected models, and when he was nine years old, he had about 30 models of exotic cars, and he had a model of the exact same color and style Lamborghini that I ended up getting, which I ultimately wrecked, but that's another story. Anyway, visualization really works, and the point in all this, guys, is you have to clearly, you have to write down what it is you want, and I take my coaching clients through a goal setting workshop. If you'll humor me for another two minutes, I'll describe it because it really adds framework to what I'm talking about. What I recommend, if you're listening and you haven't done this, you must do this because without knowing exactly what it is you want, you're not going to take action, number one. Number two, if you get knocked down, you're not going to get back up. Take the time, and this is what I tell my listeners to do and my coaching clients. Take the time, sit down, and write down everything you could ever possibly want in life. Write down the big things, the little things, the cars, the boats, the planes. Take the lid off your mind and pretend, imagine that if you write it down, you're going to get it, and that's not outside the realm of possibility. Write down everything. The private islands, the jets, the yachts, whatever it is, and write down what you want to learn. I want to learn how to fly a helicopter. Write down what you want to do for other people. Do you want to buy things for your family members or do you want to have a charity or do things? Write down all of that stuff. Then take, there's three steps here. That's the first step. Step number two is put a time limit by each one of those goals. Write how many years it's going to take to achieve it. One year, three year, five year, ten year, twenty year. Remembering that people will overestimate what they can do in a year and grossly underestimate what they can accomplish in five or 10 years. Write down a number and put a time limit by each goal. Then circle your top four one year goals, and I've got two more steps here. Once you've got your top four one year goals circled, write them on a separate piece of paper, and then write down why they're an absolute must, why you must achieve them. Use powerful words that move you like incredible and massive and just use words that have emotional juice that are going to move you. Write a paragraph by each one, and then take it one tiny step further and write down some pain if you don't achieve the goal, so that I don't feel like a failure, so I didn't let my family down. Make it painful because as human beings, we'll do more to avoid pain than gain pleasure. Now, remember it's never the goal that's going to drive you. It's the why. The simple act of writing these goals down triggers something in your psyche called the reticular activating system, and what that is it's the thing that filters out all the thousands of things that are coming at you all the time. If I say, "You're thinking about your feet right now or you feel your feet," you feel your feet, and of course you weren't thinking about that a second ago. It's the same thing that when you buy a car for the first time, you never really notice them, and then when you buy a car, you notice they're everywhere. That's your reticular activating system, and the simple acct of writing it down will start that process for you so you hone in on those goals. Then you need to write down, I don't know if that guy doing the yard work behind me is a probably, Shanny. Can you-

Shantel: It's okay.


Rod: Is it okay? All right, good. You write down the goals. You write down the whys, then one last step is you get pictures of those goals like I just talked about. Very, very, very powerful, and that's really what got me back up every time I had a seminar is remembering what I was doing and why I was doing it, so hopefully that added a little value.

Shantel: Yeah. If I can't reiterate enough to the listeners, we've been doing this personally for the business every year, and Uncle Rod, it's been neat to see. We created a Pinterest board, so kind of applicable to what we do.

Rod: Cool.

Shantel: But created a Pinterest board of our dream office. We actually moved into a space that looked identical in December to that.

Rod: Oh, that's so cool.

Shantel: It was really neat, but each year we do this as a team and we create vision boards, and I think there's so much power in one, putting those thoughts down on paper, but visualizing that and seeing it every day and having it as a constant reminder of what you're working towards, so I think that was great.

Rod: Well, you know, that's so funny you said that because I literally right before this interview did a Facebook Live episode about vision boards, and I brought my vision boards to my office here and I showed them and I actually did a little blueprint on how to do a vision board digitally or on paper and offered it up on that Facebook Live episode.

Shantel: Neat.

Rod: In fact, you know what I'll do? I'll send you the link and you can put it in the show notes for your listeners.

Shantel: Perfect.

Rod: If they haven't got a vision board and they want to get some ideas.

Shantel: Certainly. You are big into philanthropy as well, and I'd love to dive into that a little bit because I think that has created a big balance for you.


Rod: No question, and you know what? That's a perfect, perfect segue because I want to tell you about the last big goal that I got. Well, it's last one in my, let me describe a big goal that I guess not the last one. I've gotten some since then, but this is a great example that ties right into what you're talking about. I always wanted this big house on the beach, and I literally dreamt about if for 20 years. We lived in Denver. There's no beach in Denver, no palm trees. I love palm trees. I would think about it, I would visualize it. Ultimately in 2000, I built this 10,000 square foot testament to my ego on the beach. It's beach on one side, bay on the other side, spectacular eight million dollar house, and what was very interesting, Shan, is I was floating in the pool after I built it, this magnificent house, waterfall from the second floor into the pool, the pool lit up at night different colors, just magnificent home, and I'm looking up at this thing and I'm depressed. I'm like, "What the hell's going on? I'm supposed to be happy. I've achieved this incredible goal I've worked for my whole life," and I was depressed. There were two things going on that I want to share with your listeners. One is never achieve a big goal without having other goals lined up behind it. Like the good book says, without a vision, the people perish. You have to have a vision for the future, so that was one thing, but then when I looked back at it, I realize there was something else going on too. I was successful, but I was unfulfilled. That's when, that year, actually, I went to see Tony Robbins, and by the way, if you guys haven't seen Tony, go see him. Just trust me, I get nothing for saying that. It'll change your life, but my point here is he fed families every year for the holidays. He talked about his basket brigade, and so my brother and I, not your dad, your dad was out of town then. You guys were living somewhere else, but my other brother, Ed and I, decided to feed five families for Thanksgiving. We went out and bought the food and we bought these big baskets of food and turkeys and everything else and we brought them to these five families, and the third family changed my life. This lady answered the door. It was this horrible, decrepit home. She came out, saw the food, she started crying, and then her five kids came out and most of them started crying, and then I started crying, and I was hooked, so the next year, we did 50 families. The year after that, we did 100. Year after that, 200, then 400, then 800, then 1,600. All up to this point, I was paying for it just because I got so much pleasure and fulfillment out of it. Then at '08, that was about '08, and the market crashed, and then I formed a foundation called The Tiny Hands Foundation. Now we take donations. We have now fed over 50,000. I think close to 55,000 children for the holidays.

Shantel: Wow.


Rod: We've done thousands of backpacks filled with school supplies for local school children. In fact, we just did 1,600 backpacks this last Saturday, and then we've also done thousands of teddy bears to the local police departments for the officers to put in their vehicles if they encounter a child that's experienced a traumatic event. In fact, just this last Saturday, we did backpacks. The day before on Friday, we did 1,100 teddy bears, so it was a little insane couple of days, but my point in all this is there's nothing worse than being successful, but being unfulfilled, so those of you listening that are hungry and you know you want success at all costs, do not forget two things: Gratitude and fulfillment. I have interviewed and met and know very, very successful people. Multi millionaires and even billionaires that are successful, but they're unhappy because they're unfulfilled, so do not, and there's really a difference, Tony Robbins calls it the science of achievement in the art of fulfillment, and that's a great way to coin it. There's a science to achievement. There's a science to success. It's empirical. You do the right things in the right order with the right team, and you'll be a success, but there is an art to fulfillment, and that art always involves giving back beyond yourself, and guys, don't be intimated by the big things that I've done. Shanny, I know you've done, you did backpacks. You did basket brigades as well. I'm so proud of you for that.

Shantel: Thanks.

Rod: You don't have to do anything on a grand scale. You can just decide to buy a cup of coffee for the person behind you in line at Starbucks or you can just decide to smile at everybody today. You can go to an old folks home and talk to an old person and ask them questions about their life and let them reengage with their memories. There's so many ways you can give back that don't cost anything is my point. You have to incorporate it into your life.

Shantel: I love that you wrapped it up with that. I think sometimes volunteering or starting another project or another organization can be overwhelming to people that are trying to take things one step at a time, but it doesn't have to be this grand 50,000 people.

Rod: Nope.

Shantel: You start with one thing. I love that.

Rod: That's right.

Shantel: Thank you for sharing.

Rod: No, that's how we started, with five families, and we just went to the grocery store, bought the food, we had a blast. This last Saturday, we had 500 volunteers. We had hundreds of families out the door at the boys club where we did it waiting for backpacks. It was just spectacular, but it started with just deciding to go, and you could go adopt one family for the holidays and just go bring them food. We always tell them, "It's from someone that loves you." We never tell them it's from us. It's kind of a pay it forward thing.

Shantel: That's great. Well, the whole premise of this show is about how you imagine more, who inspired you to imagine more, and correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like Oma and your mom had a big influence in that and then a few mentors along the way. What I was reflecting last week and what I think is really interesting, and I've never actually put these pieces together, but I was surrounded, five out of my seven uncles, so you included, five out of my seven male figures in my life are entrepreneurs, which I think is fascinating. Would you say Oma was that big pivot for you or that inspiration as you started to take some of these adventures?

Rod: Without question, she's the one that got me started. In fact, oh, by the way, I've got a free book for your listeners. I forgot all about that, and I'll talk about that in a second, but the dedication is to her because yeah, she took her babysitting money. She babysat kids in our house so we'd have enough money to live on, and she took that money and bought the house across the street, and then she took that money and invested in the stock market successfully. We're talking about a housewife here, and she absolutely inspired me to take action on my dreams and that's why I wrote the dedication of the book, so just real quickly, if any of your listeners are interested in real estate in any fashion, I've got a 200 page book. It's titled How to Create Lifetime Cashflow with Multi Family Properties, and I'll give it to your listeners for free. It's like a textbook. There's no fluff in it. It's 200 pages, how to find an area, how to determine if an area's a good area, how to pick properties, finance properties, manage properties, everything. Anyway, all they have to do is text my name, Rod, to 41411 or they can go to my website, RodKhleif.com, Rod and same last name as beautiful Shantel here, and they can get a copy there, direct download. It's going to go on Amazon pretty soon, so if you want a free copy, get it right away, but then I'll be selling it here.

Shantel: Thank you.

Rod: Yeah, my pleasure. Yes, no question that she inspired me, and no question that being surrounded by entrepreneurship is an incredible framework for why you're so successful, you know? That influence is invaluable.

Shantel: Well, it's certainly contagious.


Rod: Yeah, and so those of you that are listening, I know you've heard it, but you really are the five people you surround yourself with, so if you're an aspiring business owner or you're somebody that wants to own a business or start a business or get involved in investing or whatever it is, surround yourself with people that are doing it because you truly are the five people that you allow to influence you and that you spend the time with. Like Shantel's talking about her uncles in entrepreneurship. You were blessed to have that growing up, but you can create that, I guess is my point. If you don't have that in your life, create it. Go out that and find people. Go find mentors, and add value to them. Do something for them, and in turn, they will take you under their wing and your close group needs to be people that empower you and build you up and push you. Sometimes you have to eliminate the naysayers in your life, and not only necessarily eliminate them, but not allow them to influence you, and sometimes that's family even, so high important.

Shantel: This may be a Tony Robbins thing or something you and dad have mentioned my whole life, but it's around surrounding yourself with people who have what you want sounds a little too ... Monetary or physical, but it's emotionally and spiritually the people that you admire, and I think-

Rod: No, absolutely have what you want financially's good. Play up. Play above your pay grade. Absolutely. Surround yourself with people that have what it is you want in every area of their life, frankly. If you're looking for a fantastic relationship, then hang with people that have fantastic relationships, but the people listening to this podcast are interested in business and making money and financial success, by all means, find those people and befriend them and add value to them, ideally if you can, but even if you can't surround yourself with them, join meet up groups or if you're in real estate, go to local real estate investor club meetings. I know your dad goes to one every week religiously, and add value and soak in all that wisdom because that's how you maximize your success.

Shantel: Certainly. I have two more-

Rod: Life is a team sport. Sorry, I just wanted to throw that in. Life's a team sport. Don't do this solo. All right, two more.

Shantel: I love that. Two more questions. What is on your vision board now?

Rod: I have multiple boards. It's so funny, I have them right here as a matter of fact. They're in my office. I brought them from home because I did that Facebook Live thing, but first, you can do one vision board, which I started out with that had a lot of things on it. It was just a little too busy, but I've got my gratitude board and I've got pictures of the children. That's the one I can see right now. It's on the other side of the desk here, and things that I'm grateful for. Then I've got a board for some of the larger goals that I want right now and then I've got a board with children in Latin America. I want to build self-sustaining schools in Latin America, so I've got a board for that.I've got a board with children that have cancer. I want to add value to that group of children in some fashion. What else is there? I've got my travel board, which is pictures of trains and different places I've either been that I want to go again or places that I want to visit. Those are the things that I brought to work with me here.

Shantel: That's great. Well, it sounds like some of those things are next on the horizon, but the second question was what is next? What's in the pipeline? What's rolling out in the next couple weeks or months that's really getting you excited?

Rod: Well, it's funny. I told your cousins, my kids, and probably you as well, do what you love and work is play. I started taking phone calls from my listeners in the podcast, and I've probably had close to 1,100, and I'm not exaggerating. Just tons of calls, and I got so much pleasure out of those calls and adding value to people, and they kept asking me, "Do a course or do coaching or do something," and I finally buckled down and I did it, so I've got an incredible course on multi family investing. I've got a coaching program where I do one on one or group coaching, and it's just giving me so much pleasure. I just rolled it out about three months ago and it's doing extremely well, and I'm really enjoying it adding value and watching people start taking action on their dreams. That's on the horizon. I still have an acquisitions team. We're actively buying multi family property, but my real love right now is this coaching and adding value to people. We're creating some other courses and doing a course on courage and competence, doing a course on different aspects of real estate, so it's just a blast. I'm just having a blast.

Shantel: Nice. Well, I imagine the fans and listeners can hear through RodKhleif.com Are there any others ways to contact you?

Rod: Yeah, they can go there. Yeah, RodKhleif.com is a great way to reach me, and that's K-H-L-E-I-F.com, and my podcast is Lifetime Cashflow Through Real Estate Investing. In fact, I think we're on the first page of iTunes. It's really awesome right now, but check it out. I think even if you're not interested in real estate, listen to my driving force success tips about the psychology of success. I know you'll get benefit out of them because really, that's 80% of it or 90% of it. You have to have the mindset to take action and then recover when things happen and stay focused on the goal because you're going to get your nose bloodied. You're going to get knocked down, and as long as you have the goal in front of you, you just change your approach and try it from another angle. If that doesn't work, you change your approach, try it from another angle, but you've got to have the goal. Check out the podcast. I think you'll love it. Thanks for having me on, Shan. This has been a blast.

Shantel: Yeah, well, thank you so much for being on.

Rod: Absolutely. Take care, sweetie.