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One of the beautiful things about business is how success is never only for the few. We have so many great minds who are ever so willing to impart their wisdom to help others reach their goals. You never have to pave the path on your own. Today’s guest, Dave Seymour, is one of the country’s top investors and has become a leading expert in the field of commercial multi-family transactions. In this episode, he gives us an inside glimpse into his unabridged passion for teaching others the art of business transactions and success. Tune in on this episode of Power Players with your host, Dan Clark.
Dave Seymour And His Unabridged Passion For Teaching The Art Of Business Transactions And Success
This is an interview with a television celebrity and host of Flipping Boston, Dave Seymour. Thanks for spending some time with me. In this episode, Dave Seymour, Private Equity Fund Manager, star of A&E Television Flipping Boston, investor, instigator, industry disruptor and one of the most recognizable experts in residential and commercial real estate investing shares his life and climbed to the top of his profession as the talent like it is mentor and motivator in the real estate world, giving us an inside glimpse into his abridged passion for teaching others the art of business transactions with a track record of unmatched success everywhere he reaches.
I’ve said this a few times over the course of all my episodes but we have an opportunity to grow personally and professionally. For all of you who are outside of the United States, it’s always exciting that we can accelerate your career on an international scale when we have a guest such as Dave Seymour. Not just a friend or a mentor but someone who grew up in London, England, came to the States and curiously, which I will ask him in a moment, how he came from the world of being a firefighter, which is so extraordinary.
Ladies and gentlemen, think about it. While other people are running out of burning buildings, screaming and praying for their lives, first responders, firefighters and police officers run back into the burning building. Understanding what I’ve learned being around the military for so many years, in the military, we give medals to those who are willing to sacrifice themselves so that others may live. In business, we give bonuses to those who were willing to sacrifice others so that they may survive. We’ve got backward.
When you read the intro on Dave Seymour, the intriguing question to me is how did he get this mindset of service before self, which is the essence and the bottom-line definition in my mind of a real estate investor? He looks at something not for what it is but for what it has the power and potential to become focused on helping us individuals take advantage of his knowledge and wisdom and the marketplace, which is a field already to harvest and how we went from firefighter paramedic into the world of television, host of A&E’s most popular program at the time called Flipping Boston.
I don’t want to take any more precious time from this man but he has a slight accent because he’s from London. He reminded me of my experience in college. My French teacher was from Boston. Can you imagine the brain damage I got every Tuesday in his class? Dave Seymour, welcome to the show. We met long ago in Las Vegas. I had a chance to be in your audience, listen to you speak and feel your charisma but more importantly, your genuine connection with everyone one-on-one or 1 on 10,000. You care about this. Your reputation is an instigator, investor and industry disruptor. Like your reputation says, “You’re the tell it like it is guy.”
Dan, I got to tell you something. Thank you for finding the time to allow me to be with you. I mean that genuinely. I don’t mean that fluff and BS on a show. I miss you. I didn’t realize I missed you until I heard you again. I don’t know if your readers appreciate what a mass you are at what’s called framing. Set an expectation and open up a few loops so that the reader has an expectation of receiving value. First of all, I don’t want it to be with you. Secondly, you’ve already set it up beautifully for us to deliver value. You resonate with this one, Dan Clark. If nothing else, you and I have a great conversation because other people’s opinions of me or you are none of our business. How sweet is it to be free?
It is the essence of real estate. You don’t work for anyone. You can’t put a value on a property because the market owns your property. The bank does it so it sets its value based on the market. I want to go right there. How early on in your life did you understand the significance of self-competition where you knew that you had to find your value in yourself, not competing and comparing against others, to pursue talents in intuition, love of life and industry? What’s your earliest recollection of figuring out that self is not discovered, self is created and you’re the best at it that I’ve ever met?
I’m from London and grew up in the South of England in the countryside, an overspill town called Andover in Hampshire. I am the absolute essence of blue-collar. Personal development like that never entered any sentence anywhere in any community at any time. I grew up where my father’s very best advice was, “Work hard. Don’t lie, cheat or steal. Do your solid eight hours. If you’re lucky, after about 50 years, you’ll have enough money to retire and not die broke as a joke.” That was it. That was the game plan. Your question was, at what point did I first realize that self-fulfillment was my responsibility? Nobody else’s, Dan. It’s my responsibility to be the best that I can be every day.
I’m not looking for validation from the outside. I’m looking for validation from the inside. I’m a speaker so my brain never works in a straight line. I have a son, Jefferson, who’s going through that puberty phase. I’m watching this boy begin to manifest into a small man and hopefully grow up to be a fantastic man. It’s taken me back to some of my insecurities. I want to be the best soccer player I ever could be. In England, it was football. I’m a big clumsy galoot but I worked hard. I wanted to be on the school team and I made it. I wanted to be in county championships and we made it.
The first time I ever came to the States, I was fifteen years old and playing soccer for the Southern England boys’ team. I was never going to be a professional but I took myself to capacity through hard work, showing it up, commitment and listening to coaches. In business, we call them mentors. In sports, we call them coaches. It’s watching tape and other players. What was it that Darren Tuff did that was so good in the front line? I’m a defender so I want to make sure I’m able to compete against that.
It’s always thinking and growing. That was an incipient moment for me to grow and be the best I could be. At some point in my late teenage years, we go through that point of all I think about is me and nothing else. I’ve got zits. I’m trying to find the love of my life. What do I want to be when I grow up? I found a talent that has served me well to be an entertainer. I studied at a performing arts college in London. I fell in love with Shakespeare, down the whole ballet, tap and all that stuff.
Here’s what it did. I wanted to be the best I could be. When we think about fast-forwarding to reality TV, I know we’ll go on that little journey together but I had a foundation in discipline. I’m a 6’3”, 220-pound-man. I don’t look good in pantyhose. I’m never going to be a ballet dancer. My dance teacher said to me, “Dave, you should think more like the slinky fox and less like the beefy bison.” She knew you can’t put a round pig in a square hole.
Personal development is not an event. It’s a process.
To your question, I tried. I put in the work, the effort and the discipline of learning my lines and manifesting the characters I was working on. I can recite Shakespeare to you that I learned when I was sixteen years old. I can give it love, attention, color or the guttural feeling of emotion. I can do all of those things. All of that has served me well in business.
You brought up two concepts though which are significant to this conversation. You use the word capacity. How do you reach and strive for your capacity? The truth comes to my mind. No one can exceed your potential. We misjudge it. When we hang around with the wrong people we’ve always heard of, we become the average of the five people we associate with the most. If you’re a realtor, a real estate investor and you misjudge the potential of raw ground or having an opportunity to flip that house, it can bring disaster in your life.
Let’s turn that into the personal development point that you’re making. I’m an entertainer as well as a musician and a songwriter. When we work with an artist, the difference between an extraordinary and professional performing artist and a national karaoke champion seeing the same notes and singing the same songs is making that song their own, taking ownership. You can whip off a Shakespearian play as well as you did before but you didn’t say, “I can still bring the love, passion, creativity, imagination and texture,” which is a word that we would both agree on.
Let’s use that as a transforming conversation to take us deeper into your personal development where you’ve taken the economy and made that interest rate or opportunity your own, where you’ve taken this real estate world and what we call life and made it your own. Dave Seymour reaches your potential. You create yourself into the person you were born to be.
The difference between amateur podcasting, amateur conversations and in-depth conversations is you’re the real deal. It’s a journey. I’ve been sober for many years. I had my last drink at the age of 23 years old. With respect, not for any congratulations but every time I drank, I got into trouble. It was always a good idea to have another drink. There’s a process to everything. One of my friends said to me, “Sobriety and personal development is not an event. It’s a process. Business acumen, skillsets, expansion, understanding. There is no such thing as capacity because we can always be more, do more and get more.
To give some context and texture to the conversation, I bought my blue-collar mindset from London, South of England, to America. All I knew was how to trade time for money. I was very good at trading time for money. Ten W-2s my first year in this country. I thought you got to frame those down and put them on the wall like certificates of accomplishment. My first wife explained to me and said, “That means that you’re not a good employee.” That theme carried through a little bit in life. I came here with that mindset. I was twenty years old, Dan, when I came here. I was a kid.
As I matured into my early twenties, I began to realize that I wasn’t a good employee. I was discontented, not content or at ease. Bob Proctor talks about dis-ease. I’m not at ease or comfortable. I figured out at some point or another that something was missing. What was missing for me was the ability to expand. Being an employee, whether it was a firefighter, I worked construction on my days off, retail security nights and weekends, 120 hours every week, I was trading time for money and yet unfulfilled. It was at that moment in time that I realized something had to change. It was around 2007 or early 2008. We all know what happened. At that moment in my journey was married for the second time with a small son.
My house was in pre-foreclosure because I was a financial illiterate. I had not expanded my knowledge base. I was following somebody else’s plan. That 5 people you hang around with the most, I hung out with 5 negative firefighters every day. We loved what we did when it was time to go to work but we’d sit around complaining the rest of the time. It manifested more of the same old negativity. For me, I was at that juncture in my life where I needed a massive influx of faith and something different. Otherwise, it was the closest I came to drinking in years at that period of my life.
You’ll get to love this. How do you progress and change? I’m praying to my God. We all have our version of something bigger and better than ourselves. “Don’t believe you are God,” is what one guy said to me one time. A commercial came on my radio. I’m destitute. I don’t know what’s up. The commercial was teaching me foreclosure, a free one-and-a-half-hour seminar coming into your neck of the woods. It was Russ Whitney who came into my truck through the radio. I’m like, “I get it. I’m going.” That was the beginning of that manifestation into real estate, entrepreneurship and a different way of thinking.
My wife, Mary-Beth, is the rock I get to stand on so I can look cool. We went to that seminar. At the end of that seminar was an opportunity to invest in ourselves. I never forget it. It was $27,000, the money I didn’t have. She looked at me and said, “What do you think?” It was a moment of clarity and true honesty with oneself. I looked at her and had a lot of failure behind me. I’d always tried to do the right thing. I said to Mary-Beth, “I can’t keep doing what I’ve been doing because the results will be the same. I will have another failed marriage, more financial insecurity and financial challenges.”
She was the first person on this planet who gave me permission to be wealthy and step into my greatness. She said something, the initials of which are engraved in my wedding band. She said, “Go get them, killer. I’m proud of you and I love you. I’ll support you in whatever it is that you want to do.” This is the humor side of me to deflect the magnitude of that mode. I looked at her and said, “I’m so glad you said that because my credit cards are maxed out. We’ve got to use yours.” She did that for me.
I went after commercial real estate investing with a vengeance. I went after it the same way I drilled the train to be a paramedic and a firefighter. The results speak for themselves. I’m going to stop. I want to listen to you. I remember that class back then. They were probably, without exaggeration, 300 people in that room. Remember when the events were that big. We know that they probably signed up 15% or 20%.
Let’s say 60 people went in there and I’m like, “We’re all going to conquer the world. We’re going into foreclosure market massive opportunities.” That energy dissipated and the people I met at the event began to fade away. I realized something. Just because you spend money and say you want something, your actions will always speak louder than your wallet and verbal intentions. In my office, it says on the wall, “Remove my fear with faith or my actions in line with my intentions. If so, act.” That has been a mantra for me going forward and allowed me to do some pretty powerful things.
We could make a long list of people. Maybe some of us are on that list of individuals who have paid the big bucks and go out on the ledge for $27,000. You see them at another seminar and they never pull the trigger. You see them in another seminar and never pulled the trigger. What you’re saying is your why has to be bigger than your why not. Once we identify and clarify the why, figuring out the how-to becomes clear and simple. Let’s make that leap. You learn about commercial real estate.
There is no such thing as capacity because we can always be more, do more, and get more.
My younger brother is one of my heroes, five years younger. He’s one of the more successful investment bankers on the planet. After he got his MBA, he worked on the Chicago Board of Trade. He started at the very bottom, the entry-level position on the trading floor. He’s a runner. He’s not trading stocks and bonds. He put on every position. He wore every hat in the stock market and investment banking world. Eventually, open up and ran the UBS operation on the West Coast and jumped ship. He’s one of the more successful investment bankers on the planet.
He is one of the smartest guys you’ll ever be around but he attributes his success to being able to start at the very beginning, which is what you did. You took a course and had to figure it out. I would never contradict you at all. I love, honor and admire you so much. What you said at the very beginning, I can’t get out of my system the longer you talk and teach us. You didn’t have a lot of personal development. You’re the blue-collar poster boy. You rattled off everything your dad taught you.
Ladies and gentlemen, go back and re-read this. Take out a pen and paper and write down those one-word qualities, attributes and encouragements that Dave’s dad gave him living in the South of London. I guarantee that is Personal Development 101. Everything else that you and I got from this episode is built upon the foundation of those principles that your dad said. You’re larger than life. I wish everybody could see you in person. You’re not just 6’3”, 220 but you fill the room. When you walk in, people stop and say, “Who is he? What does he do?”
Let’s jump right to Flipping Boston. How do you take your knowledge, experience and financial success? You’ve already taught us wealth flows through you, not to you. “You can get anything in this life that you want if you’re willing to open up. Other people get what they want.” It’s my mentor Zig Ziglar’s famous line. How do you take your experience and then get into the world of television using your entertainment background knowing that you can make love to a camera, which is a unique talent in and of itself? You and I need to do a seminar on that. Take us into the Flipping Boston world because so many people want to know all about that as they’ve been fans of yours for so long.
Thank you for what you said about my father’s commentary. I’m not going to leave that alone. I got to address that. I don’t want to use the word negative because it’s not negative but it is a programmable line. I’ve said it many times. “Don’t lie, cheat or steal. Do a solid eight hours of work. Do the right thing. Step up and you’ll be okay.” Everything he said to me was true, powerful and in line up until you’re going to be okay. In my opinion and it’s just an opinion, that mantra and dictation that has been delivered from one generation to another didn’t necessarily serve me well throughout history.
What I mean by that is this. When you look up the Seymour family tree, there’s going to be a point of bifurcation. That bifurcation happens to me. I want them to look up and say, “What happened over there?” He took a different path. He chose not to be an employee but I did bring all of those powerful, truthful solid values that my father gave me into business. Not everybody does. As we begin to get around millions and millions of dollars, it’s amazing to see how people change. If you are crap, broke and get money, you’re a bigger crap. We’re going to throw that out there.
Thank you for saying that. I appreciate it. My dad is a very powerful piece of my journey. TV Land, how do you take God-given talents and drive them to success? That seminar I took put me on that trajectory where I ended up at tons of seminars. I’m going to a short sale seminar, flipping seminar or commercial seminar. There was one guy in the business. I won’t mention his name but I’m sure you know him. He was onstage. I’m a student in an audience. He was selling websites, your buyer’s, seller’s or money website. Back then, you pay $5,000 for 3 websites. Now we know we can host them for $1 apiece.
He was going through his hour-and-a-half pitch. He was trying to be funny and wasn’t. The guy was laughing at his jokes before the punchline. His timing was terrific but he was a firefighter in California who had transitioned into real estate. I had the firefighter connection. I go up to him afterward. I’m like, “I’m a firefighter. I can’t afford your websites but I bought them anyway.” He goes, “Thanks.” I go, “It’s a tough crowd.” He goes, ”What do you mean?” I said, “Your comedy sucks.”
I’ve learned how to level the playing field. I didn’t do it intentionally back then but I’ve got his attention. He’s like, “Who are you?” I go, “I’m a firefighter but I also did some stand-up comedy back in London. I got a little theater behind me. I’m saying maybe you could do this and this.” He says to me, “You are my new comedy coach. I’m going to pay you $1,500 and fly you down to Florida. I got a three-day training. I want you to take some notes.”
I’m earning $200 for overtime in a firehouse. This guy says he’s going to give me $1,500 to tell him how to be a little bit funny. I’m like, “This has got to be a job. I’m looking for the camera.” I look at my wife and go, “This clown told me he’s going to give me $1,500 and pay for me to fly down.” She’s like, “I don’t know. He gave me his phone number.” I’m like you on the other side. I’m not just a student anymore. I’ve got some additional value, which is important. It’s not always money in business.
The next thing I knew, there were these circles of guys and girls who are high-level educators and real estate investors. Gary Vaynerchuk is in a little group. There’s Russell Brunson. I’m a part of this group. I’m hanging out with internet marketer Matt Bacak, the OG of putting butts in seats. I’m like, “My influences have changed.” Brunson sends out an email to a few guys. He says, “There’s this a production company.” This is 2010 out of New York. They’re looking for new house flippers. He says, “Dave, you’re funny. You should apply.” I’m like, “What have I got to lose?” It’s not that, “What have I got to gain?” We’ll see what happens.
Here’s what I know. They get this online vanilla application and the name of a company. “How many houses do you flip?” They fall asleep. I knew from being around these internet marketing guys that I had to separate myself from the pack. I’m sitting there in my basement in my old house. I’m like, “Looking for inspiration, I know what I’ll do. I’ll use profanity. That always grabs the attention.” The first line was a company I put on like Go F Yourself, LLC.
I go all the way through it. I’m pampering it with all the words my grandmother said I should never use. Right at the bottom, it says, “Any other comments or anything else you want to share with us?” I put on there, “Don’t waste my f-ing time. Get on a plane, train or automobile. Come to Boston and I’ll show you how we get it done. When everybody else goes f-ing running out, we go in and running in. Don’t call me. Get on a plane. Let’s start filming tomorrow. Love, Dave.” I then hit send. After fifteen minutes, my cell phone rings with the 212 area code. I know it’s New York. I answered the phone and go, “Butt cheeks, I thought I told you not to call me.” I hung up the phone.
“You’re a lunatic or genius.” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Send me a little video of you and your guys.” Remember the little phones before? All of our iPhones had videos on there. I had a little phone thing and shot this silly little video, uploaded it and sent it. They came out to our property. I called my part of the Greek. I said, “We might have a reality TV show. I pitched you as the Greek money guy.” He’s like, “What are you talking about?” I said, “Shut up and show up.”
If you don’t disrupt routines, if you don’t reach out on LinkedIn to make new friends, don’t pitch about bringing value.
He shows up and we shot a little sizzle reel thing. It’s funny. I have this comment for the production company. “That big English guy looks like he could get pretty angry. I’d like to see more of that.” Flipping Boston has 4 episodes, great reviews, 4 seasons later and then 29 episodes. It elevates everything with reality TV. When we were on stage, we might be in front of 200 people or 2000 or 20,000 with the power of the microphone and attention. Put me on Today Show, Squawk Box and CNBC. People began to ask me questions that allowed me to share experiences.
One down as we’re winding down our time. If I was going to introduce you and I didn’t use Flipping Boston or a venture capitalist said, “Disrupt or whatever,” I would introduce you as the ultimate networker who sees the value in relationships. We have so many people who want to buy into the promise of my show, that the interview with my guest, especially you, Dave Seymour, can unleash their power to become the best version of themselves by reading your story and inspiration. They click off and say, “I can do this too if I do exactly what Dave Seymour did, starting with exactly how Dave Seymour thinks.
Can we consolidate a little formula? What’s the advice for networking, taking advantage of opportunities and putting yourself in a position where you can meet someone as you did at this seminar? You level the playing field. You used every networking tool on the planet. Subconsciously, it’s natural and you can teach that to others.
There is a formula and it’s called Get in The Way of Something Good. If we think about daily routines, the word is routine. If you don’t disrupt routines, reach out on LinkedIn to make new friends, don’t pitch bring value and you don’t begin to understand the power of social media, think about how we ended up here, you and I, Dan. You came into one of those events as the keynote speaker who delivered the power, the experience and the skills that created that. You and I looked at each other and went, “I don’t know when or where but one day.”
I believe, honestly, in my heart, that you thought the same thing. Think about how Teresa put us together. Teresa put me with Jack Canfield. I said, “Jack Canfield is the living proof because of Teresa.” When she said she was with you, the universe is screaming and shouting again. You and I, Dan Clark, are going to do some great things together. We’re going to do them live. I don’t know where or when. I’m throwing it out to the universe. That is my decisiveness. The universe responds to you and me. If we say it’s going to happen, the universe says, “Let’s make that happen.”
For the readers, if you are surrounded with negativity and you ooze and use the crap, that’s what you’re going to get. What is it that we can do? You said something that has never been succinct in my life. It’s not going to start. You said something about relationships, networking, the most valuable currency we have. COVID pouring gasoline on it is relationships.
Here’s the beautiful thing. Those were authentic relationships. I’m sick and tired of the fluff, the buff and the BS out there. It’s authenticity. When I speak, other people’s opinions of me are none of my business so I can live in authenticity. What happens is as human beings aspire to that, we got to get over the fears of it. “I’m too fat or thin. I’m too black or wide. I’m too rich or poor.” We’ll negate ourselves from the game. Find the game that you want to play and then play it. There are no half measures because they have nothing.
Get in front of something good and someone good.
Make a mess and learn how to monetize it afterward.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve got to have Dave Seymour back, maybe 17 or 18 times. No problem. Let’s take the time to encourage all of you to share this episode with everyone. As I thought through my relationship with you, Dave, which was if you quantify the number of minutes that we spent together, I’m on stage and you’re on stage, we’re in the back of the ballroom laughing, flipping each other some crap and deciding, “We are going to meet up again and do something huge,” it’s because of what we talked about and to your point, we connected authentically. We’re back together again and we’ll continue this relationship.
Anyone within the sound of our voices needs to understand that through the law of attraction, we don’t attract who we want. We attract who we are. The number one chemical, energy, transference and vibration that connects us is not love, service or all these things that we think they are. It’s authenticity. You hit the nail on the head and tied a little bow around our dog and pony show. From the bottom of my heart, Dave Seymour, thank you so much. Where do we find you so we can follow you? How are you going to go on here? Publicly admit that you’re going to help me get to access your ten million followers.
If you want to find me, Google my name, Dave Seymour. My investment company is Freedom Venture Investments. We’re building down in the Florida market. That’s where we put all that capital to work. This isn’t going to be about me. This is about you, what you’ve been able to do in your career from that moment in the back of the ballroom to be where we are and the impact that you’ve had on millions of people. Whatever I can do to help you impact more people do it is what it’s all about. That’s authenticity. You’re a blessing to this earth.
Reputation is a mentor motivator. Tell it like it is from the dude from London with the Boston accent or a guy from Boston with a London accent. I’m still confused. I love, honor and admire you. I can’t wait to have you back. My readers will grow exponentially by reading this. Thanks, Dave Seymour. You can be a power player like Dave Seymour if you think as he thinks, do what he does and believe how he builds.
About Dave Seymour
Dave Seymour, a retired 16 year veteran of the Fire Service launched his Real Estate career over a decade ago, rapidly becoming one of the Countries top investors. Within his first few years, Dave transacted 10’s of millions of dollars of real estate and has become one of the Nation’s leading experts in commercial multi-family transactions. His unabridged passion for business and Real Estate put him on the radar of A&E television network as well as multiple news organizations like CBS, ABC, CNBC, and FOX News. “Flipping Boston” aired on A&E for multiple seasons. Dave has been sought after, as a no nonsense investor with zero tolerance for inefficiency and speculation. Dave is well-known for doing business alongside investors of all experience levels. He has helped accredited investors on their very first deal as well as guided some of the largest investment firms in the nation through complex transactions. Dave’s blue collar attitude in a white collar world is why investors seek his advice and want to invest alongside his team at Freedom Venture Investments. Dave has disrupted the Private Equity landscape allowing investors access to institutional quality CRE assets that have typically only been for the elite.