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If you grew up in a blue collar family, you’ll be familiar with the common advice “get a trade, then at least you’ll have something to “fall back” on”. 

It’s not bad advice… if you want to live a “safe” life. But what if you feel destined for more? 

Our guest Jonathan Rivera also felt destined for more. His teachers told him “you will amount to nothing”. Now he runs a successful online business, writes $50,000 checks in real estate and aims to inspire millions of people to better their lives. 

You’ll leave this episode feeling inspired and ready to take on any challenge. You’ll also discover what it takes to withstand the “rock bottom” of entrepreneurship and reach the top, no matter what luck throws your way. 

Listen now! 

Show highlights include: 

  • How to turn the old guy at work into a fortune teller who predicts your life satisfaction with astonishing accuracy (2:09)
  • The “Pigeonhole Prison” that holds you back from your dreams (3:50) 
  • How a tragic death opens the path to freedom (5:03) 
  • The “complete idiot” success blueprint (9:06)
  • How you can move past any mental roadblock by practicing three steps (10:53)
  • How to fight the “you can’t do it” voice in your head (even if everything came crumbling down) (13:38) 
  • How joining a mastermind could “accidentally” turn your hobby into a booming business (18:07) 
  • The only way to guarantee that you always bring in money (and never have to resort back to a job) (21:01)
Read Full Transcript

From near death experiences to the devastation of homelessness, how and where do we find the will to overcome insurmountable odds? And when we do overcome these challenges, how do we pass that story of survival onto others? Life on the rocks is that place where these stories are heard from those who live to tell them. And now here is your host Kyle Miller.

(00:23): Jonathan, what is up? My man, I'm happy to have you on this show today. Are you ready to rock this thing out? Share your story. I'm ready, bro. Let's do this

(00:31): Awesome man. So listen, I've heard your story before I've talked to you about it and I think it's just fascinating. Just kind of like the progression of how it all happened, man. And I, I thought it was so good. I wanted to share with my listeners and I think people can learn from it and grow from it. And so without me diverting more of your story, will you just go ahead and let's, let's start this thing, man. Where were you when this all started? Tell me the story. What happened? What do do, what were you doing and then how it progressed?

(01:04): Yeah, I mean , I'm probably not even supposed to be here. At least if you ask my teachers in grade school and middle school and high school they they'd say, say I never amount to anything and I salute them for that. Thank you. And yeah man, it's been a fun journey. It's been interesting. There's been a lot of ups and downs, but the way I grew up was simple blue collar. My parents told me get a trade and you'll always have something to fall back on. I remember those words clearly from my mother. You always have something to fall back on, you get a trade and I did it. I I graduated high school, became an electrician and did the grind man seven to three 30 in the hot Florida sun for about nine years. Doing exactly as my parents told me, because I'm such a good boy, but yeah, that's, that's where it all started it. And it's been a long journey from there to where I am today. That's for sure.

(02:08): Yeah. Did you enjoy doing that or did you always feel like you were like wanted more? Did you always feel like there was something else for you?

(02:16): So, yeah, I man, I haven't even, I, I still think about it. Actually. I went to home Depot today, cupcake and I dropped the boy off at school and we were into home Depot to get, get a couple things. And I see all the workers there and every time I get around these workers, I look at them and I say to cupcake, that was me. That was supposed to be me. And I say, I'm grateful every single day that I'm not doing that anymore. But to be honest with you, I pulled satisfaction from being a craftsman. And I was a very, very good craftsman. I had all the tools. Look, I, I progressed in my field quickly because I was young and I was one of the youngest foreman running a van service fan, running a crew, young guy, cocky a F. And I did, I enjoyed it, man.

(03:01): I used to do electrical rooms, generators, things, other people didn't know how to do. And I did this artistic work, man. I can remember my electrical rooms, perfect bends and 30, 40 pipes all mirroring each other. I took great care in my work and I was always motivated to get better at it. But there was the other side of that where I'd see the old guy sitting next to me, like tired out of life. And, and that's it. Right? That was all, there was, this is what I had to look forward to. I already had the band, I already ran the crew. What else was there for me to do? But just more years of the same kind of. So it became a point where I was, I was really questioning whether this was all that I was gonna give to the world. So yeah. I, I definitely wanted more.

(03:48): Yeah. Oh man. I think a lot of people go through that. Right. You know, they have those feelings inside, but they're not able to act on that stuff or I on those feelings and act on that desire to want to do more. Cuz I think a lot of people kind of pigeon hole themselves. Well, this is what I do. Right. They've create this thing in their mind and it's a jail and it boils down to like, boom, this is where we're at and this is what I'm doing and they can't step out and do other things. Tell me, how did that hap what, what happened? What made you get out of being an electrician? What was the driving factors? What were those things that helped push

(04:28): You? I was there. I was in that same prison that you're describing and, and here's a, it's just a weird concept and people want security in their lives. This is something everybody wants normal people AOPs is what I call 'em average, ordinary people wanna be secure. And when you think about it, what's the most secure place on earth, maximum security prisons. Yeah. We're creating this prison in our mind, right? We're we are the, the guards, we're the ones keeping us there. And so I was in that same prison and if it wasn't for some major tragedy in my life, I would've likely stayed there. And so I didn't motivate myself to get out of there, but my mom died unexpectedly and I began questioning everything I began wondering of this was all there was to life. And that was what sparked, what has driven me for years now is knowing that we have a finite time on earth. What are we doing with that time? And that was a, the motivator. And so what I say about my mom's death is that was her final lesson to me. And it was, was a powerful one. She's the one that showed me, Hey, if you want more, you better go out and get it now because we don't know that we're gonna have tomorrow.

(05:50): Yeah. I've always said, and I say this to things is as we get older, the only thing that will change our mind is a tragedy. Something massive in our life has to happen for us to say, you know what? I'm done, I'm changing. I'm making the decision is something massive. It's very hard for people to just go every normal day life of just every day, going to work, going to work. And then just try to jump out. Right. There has to be a catalyst that like just, it makes people think differently, see the world differently and go, you know what? It that's, it I've only got X amount of time left. I'm done, I'm doing this. I'm going after this. And I see that time and time again, you know? And so how long from the time that when your mom died, were you able to like jump out to that next career? Oh

(06:41): Dude, I had to hit rock bottom. I'm going back right now and I'm reliving it a little bit. I remember that I was running jobs and I was in such a deep, deep, deep depression. I just showed up to work and I didn't do anything. And, and my crew kind of took care of this. Cause I knew I was just in a weird place, but it took a while. And, and the funny thing is it had been, maybe let's say a year before that a year before she passed, my mom got me. And so she was trying to tell me something, I guess, but she got me, you remember late night infomercials, Carlton eats like that's classic classic, real estate investor stuff. And so she got me that I looked at it, read in a little bit, put it on a shelf and didn't think about it.

(07:28): So a year later she dies. I'm in a funk for another year. And then I'm like, I gotta get out. I have to get out. I can do this anymore. What's my way out. I'm a dude. I was a straight D student. Like I didn't even graduate high school. I had to go to summer school just to get half credit I needed to graduate. And so I'm not, I'm not bright. You know, I don't have anything going for me. I ain't going to college that's for sure. I don't have any money. What am I gonna do? How am I gonna get outta this? The Grady equalizer. Real estate. Yeah. And what I figured was, Hey, I can go get my real estate license. I, I can do that. And I can figure out I can be a realtor, do deals as an agent, earn some commissions while I figure out this investing thing.

(08:16): Mm-Hmm . And so I went, I quit my job. It had like 500 bucks to my name, put the real estate class on, on a credit card and no job, no nothing. My dad let me live with him while I did this. And and I did it, man. I quit. I got my real estate license, got into real estate and my life changed because now I became a business man. And it is true. I believe that real estate is the great equalizer of, you know, how to play the game. And I started doing it. I, I mean, we bought a rental dad and I partnered, bought a rental. Then I did my first lease option deal. And then I started doing private money deals and different things. But it was because I got out there and actually took some action and took some risk and made a change. But it, it wouldn't have happened if I wasn't forced into it with, with, like you said, the tragedy,

(09:06): The action and risk. I mean, like when you were taking those steps, did you know exactly what you were doing or did you, oh, Come on. I mean really? I didn't know anything. That was a complete idiot

(09:19): And that's the thing, right? I, I think that a lot of people as well, when they don't know the steps to take, they pull back, they don't push forward. There's times in my life that I've gone through this and throughout sports and everything that I, I can just go and it, it doesn't matter. There's other things in life that happen. And I, I think it's, you know, we just have to learn from it. We have to understand where, where we are in that. And what's keeping us back and just overcome those obstacles. Right? Overcome the, that mental jail cell. That's holding you back saying, Hey, you can't do this or you're not good enough. Or you don't know how to do it, or you're not licensed or you're not anything you just go out and do it. You just take one step at a time. And so that's awesome, man. And then, so what were you doing where you flip it house?

(10:08): All of it, man. I did rentals. And then I realized that we weren't gonna make any money with rentals. Cause you put all your money into 'em and then you get a little drip back. Right. So then we started flipping our, our rentals. We flipped everything and started getting big paychecks. I remember getting a, a $50,000 check at a closing was like regular for me. Yeah. I'm like, oh, bank knew me. Hey Mr. Repair, how are you? They, they love me all of that. But yeah, we did. We did the flipping. We, we did dude, we got creative. Like I said, lease options, owner finance deals, wraparound mortgages, subject twos, brother, you name it. And I did it. I looked at everything in Carleton's sheets book. I'm like check, check, check, check. I'm doing every kind of deal I can do. And so that's, that's how I got into it.

(10:54): But going back to your point is we have to recognize those things and you get better. As you get more practice, it's a muscle and you have to recognize, Hey, I'm retreating back or Hey, something's holding me back and just recognize it without emotion and say, what is it objectively? What is it that I need to learn here? What is it that I need to do? Who do I need to be to take this next step? And as you get into this and you exercise that muscle, you get better at it and better at it and better at it. Like my timeframe now hitting those roadblocks in the beginning, it could be years like that. That first one that I told you, but it shrinks and shrinks and shrinks and shrinks and you just get better at recognizing, Hey, there's something here. Let's just go ahead and unlock that and let's move forward.

(11:40): Yeah. So true. So you're doing all these deals, right? Making $50,000 checks, you went from $500 in the bank to prob a lot more than that. I mean, that's super exciting. Everything's going good.

(11:53): Right? Everything must be, I mean, just living the life. Right. And what happens? Fun. It was fun. No, it was, it was good. In fact, here's I love any chance I get to share this story. But when I was in, in construction, I was working I'm here in central Floridas. I was working on this new, like industrial commercial park in lake Mary. And I quit from that company to go do the thing. Right. Go get my real estate license. Well, get this a little while later, I'm doing my first deal, which I'm buying the one that my dad and I partnered on our first rental. And the girl that comes to do the closing is the girl who is now my wife. And so I would've never even met my wife and, and to make it even weirder. Her office is in that last building that I worked on as a, if that girl would've seen me as a construction worker, she would've been repelled like, Ooh, but I come in here, you know, doing a closing and, and young real estate investor.

(12:58): Now I'm a hot, hot stuff. Hot stuff. she saw the hus . Yeah. Right, exactly. So, so that's, that's what it was, but it's interesting how those moves. You don't know what is going to come from them and it could be lifechanging. And, and for me it has been life changing, but yeah, man, it's ups and downs. You know how this is? Yeah. We bought a lot of property. We were flipping properties. We were leveraged all the way out market turned. Why, why is this house taking so long? We usually sell these in about 15, 20 days. We've had this one 60, we've had this one 90. We, we gotta get rid of this. All, all of it came crumbling down and we lost everything. Dad lost his house. I lost my house. We lost everything. And we had to decide what we were gonna do.

(13:46): And that's when the, that little voice in your head starts telling you, see, who do you think you are that you think you could do this? You need to go back and get a job. You need to just go do what you were supposed to be doing. And that, that right there was when I'm talking about that gap. And that recognition, that was a hard one that took me a couple years to recover from because I let so many people down and I so bad. And it was . It was definitely a trying time. And the weird part is what brought me out of it is what we do today. And that was discovering audiobooks. And then from audiobooks discovering podcasts and getting that motivation, getting that growth, learning about marketing, learning about out different topics, all available to me by audio, which worked well for me, cuz I told you I wasn't a good reader or writer in school. So having audio books and podcasts is super helpful. And so that's where we started rebuilding and I decided, look, I'm still gonna do this real estate thing, but I can't let it be my only thing. Right. And that's when we diversified into looking to build some sort of online business so that we had a diversified income stream and spent plenty of years figuring that out as well.

(15:08): So go back a second. You lost your house. Mm-Hmm your dad lost his house. Mm-Hmm you lost all, all of the deals that you were doing. Right. They all got taken back. What private money or, or bank money doesn't matter. They all done. Right. And then now where, where are you living? Where are you at?

(15:28): We got lucky. luckily my wife, parents gave us a place to live. They gave us a house to live in. Otherwise we would've been in trouble. I mean, we would've figured out we would've rent an apartment or something. We would've figured out. But fortunately having that little bit of safety allowed us time to rebuild and not everybody has that. I understand. But yeah, we could have rented a little tiny apartment and made it, but it just so happened that our family was able to help us out in that situation. Right. Right. How'd you find that motivation, you've lost everything, the process that you went through to find that new thing. How did that happen?

(16:08): I, I think it's I don't know, man. I think so. Some of us are just hardwired to, if you want more, you're gonna continue looking for more. Right. And so that's why I was looking for, I still stayed in real estate. I started wholesaling. I worked for a wholesaler, a as a, you know, one of the guys getting deals and doing all that stuff. I stayed in real estate. I had a real estate license, so I was still able to make some ends meet due deals. I even had, I, I even got my broker's license and had an agent or two under me, so I would make some money with them. But it was hard. I felt so bad when all of that stuff went, went down and I just knew there was more. Yeah. And so I don't know what that is.

(16:54): I don't know how to explain it, but it's something that's in your heart or it's not like you either know that there's more or you settle for less. Yeah. And for me, I was like, look, I did this once. It's gonna be hard. I'm gonna do it again. I'm gonna do it better. And then the other part was, but what else can I do? What else can I do so that it's not just me dependent on real estate cuz I didn't like that. And that's, that's what it was. It was me saying, all right, I'm learning all this stuff in podcasts. I'm learning all this stuff in books and I'm learning about, you can make money with an internet business and I'm thinking, wow, that sounds so attractive because then you don't have to collect rents and you don't have to be stuck to one location and you don't have to be doing all this highly leveraged activity that could get you in trouble again. And so we started bootstrapping and rebuilding and trying to figure out how do people make money with online businesses? What does that look like? And how can I do it? Right. And that was the journey dude. I went through so many rabbit holes figuring it out. And finally we, we got it. You know, it took years. Yeah. It was trial and error and just figuring things out and not quitting. Yeah, man, I love that.

(18:06): So what businesses are you in now? You know, how many years ago did you start this podcast stuff in the, in, well the the podcast factory as a business, I can't even remember when we officially became an agency or we were doing this as a business. I was just doing this with my mentors. Like there was people that helped me out. There was people that me, people that, that I wanted to give to and not just to them because they had helped me, but to the other people that would listen to us. But really I was, I started this thing for fun, the podcast thing. And then I realized in a mastermind, see, I was the way I was making money online was real estate training. So I was teaching online marketing to real estate agents, how to get listings, how to get referrals. And that was okay. I got stuck for a couple of years around a hundred K or so. And it's like, man, what are we gonna do?

(19:01): How do we grow this thing? I see other people making more money. So I joined my first mastermind high level mastermind at that time. And in that in mind, I would talk about, Hey, we're doing this, this, that nobody cared about real estate. Cuz real estate had already tanked. Nobody cared about it. Right. And what was interesting to everybody there is they would pull me aside and say, Hey, I heard you on that podcast with Ben settle. How are you doing that? How are you doing that? I heard you with Doberman Dan. And so my friends that helped me and these are people who helped me re build my real estate business, giving me new skills, like email marketing, building, landing pages, and all that for purpose. Yeah. Which was for my real estate business. I'm like, I'm gonna do shows with these guys. And everybody was asking me about that's about halfway through that mastermind cupcake.

(19:46): Can I look at each other? And we're like, maybe the business is the podcast. Okay. Okay. So what's that look like? So we shut down the real estate training and I think it was around 2015 or so now we opened our doors to clients and totally undercharged and basically gave podcasts away for free Uhhuh. But yeah, that, that, that's what led me there. And, and now we have the podcast factory, which you, part of the family, we have other guys that are a part of the family and that's how we feel. We're I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. And, and my mission's bigger. It's like, I know that a conversation that you and I can have and someone can listen to, they they'll, they might take one little piece of that and it can change the trajectory of their life. And so that's, my mission is to bring good people like you like the DM, like, like these guys that we're friends with.

(20:39): Yeah. Sharing good, positive, influential messages to everybody that I can, because I think we're gonna change lives. People need to know that there's light. That there's good. That there's freedom that you can have it all if you will work for it. And if you will be in, in there doing what you need to do. So that's my mission now. And that's what I do. That's, that's my love and passion here at the podcast factory. But we got multiple businesses, man. We got multiple income streams. We got we're in e-com we're in media. We've diversified because of the same thing, podcast, factory go down. I, I got another one. And so my thing is diversification having multiple different businesses that create cash flow so that we have more that than we need. So that any one of these breaks down, we're in a position to say, okay, well let's work on that, but we're still making money, not starving. And thinking of going back to work. Right.

(21:29): No, I love that, man. I love that. So you've gone basically from barely graduating high school, taking summer school credits to construction worker, to real estate investor, to losing everything, to back to creating yourself and being bigger than it's ever been to a four.

(21:48): Yeah. I don't know if I'm bigger. I try to keep my head small because my head was big when I , when I went downhill. But yeah, no, it it's really a, a game of gratitude being grateful for all the opportunity and all the great people in our lives. It's it's the game of taking massive action. Like we were talking before the show and I just created an new business, had a thin air like two years ago, because I was told, right. Remember that gap? I told you the gap keeps getting smaller from idea to like, hell yeah, let's do it. It's a business. Screw it. You know? Right. It takes absolutely.

(22:22): If you, if you stand back and look at your life of how the progression, right. So let's say we started and then it, it keeps going up like this. If, if we zoom in on the days, it may look like it's completely, you know, trash, like, oh, we're, we're burning. We're going down with the ships. It's life's over. But if you look back, if you pull back like a stock marketer, crypto, you know, you're looking at the ticker, how it goes, you look back on it. But our trajectory keeps going like this. We have the ups, we have the downs a little bit, but we're still going like this. And so I think, you know, a lot of times in life we're focused on too much of a right now. Oh my gosh, things are going bad. My life is over. We don't step back and see how far we've come from, where we, where we were to where we want to go. And, and actually look at the whole picture, the complete picture, you know, it's never a straight line.

(23:18): No, you're what, what you're describing reminds me of Dan Sullivan's gap and gain principle. We're always guys like you and I are always chasing the next thing. Always trying to do more, have more, be more, give more. And it's like the horizon. It just keeps moving away from us. We can never, ever, ever yeah. Get it. And it's frustrating. And the only way to avoid that frustration is to turn around and say, holy cow. Yeah. How far we've come in the last 5, 10, 15 years. My gosh, I didn't even know. I'd be here. Thank you God for this.

(23:53): Yeah. Yeah. Being grateful. Sometimes I have to sit back and I have to sit there and go, okay. Wow. Kyle, just be grateful for what we got grateful for. The, the experiences that we've had. I a believer that life happens for us. Not to us. Everything's put in our path for a reason. Maybe it's something hard, but maybe there's something hard is so we can test ourselves to overcome this adversity and then be stronger on the backend because there's something else that's coming that we're gonna have to fight. There's something else that's coming that we're gonna have to overcome. And these are giving us the skills that we need right now to fight that. Yeah. And so that's just, I love it, man. I love it. I love the story. I love the story, man. I'm glad you're able to share this with me. I'm really excited about this. I think it goes to show, you know, it happens. Life happens in all different forms, wherever you are. You just keep pushing full and, and you keep winning and you take

(24:48): Your LS and you take your W's. Right? Yep. Just make sure that you got more W's and LS . Yep. Exactly. Well, cool man. Well, Jonathan, I appreciate you coming on the show today, sharing your story, hopefully and inspiring thousands of people to improve their life. Or maybe just that one person that's gonna take this and advance their life, make their experience here on earth. Better. Thank you.Oh, let's go, man. Thank you for having me.

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