Meet Chris Larsen
Chris Larsen is the founder and Managing Partner of Next-Level Income, through which he helps investors become financially independent through education and investment opportunities. He began syndicating deals in 2016, has raised more than $12M and been actively involved in over $150M of real estate acquisitions.
What are some of those connections between generating wealth and relationships?
When I was younger, my father passed, I was five and a good family friend, Clint Provenza not only introduced me to cycling, which was one of one of my real loves in my life, but also the miracle of compound interest. So it's one of those things where if I didn't have that relationship, I would have never been introduced to both of those concepts, and then just fast forwarding through life, and cycling partnerships, turned into business partnerships. And then ultimately completing our first syndicated real estate deal came from our network of investors that we put together. So I mean, whether you look at, you know, foundationally when I was very young, my sporting success or what would call investing success, it's all based upon those relationships that were built going back to my early teens.
Let's talk about how you actually became an investor. Do you want to share that story with us?
So really the drive to be an investor came from my desire for freedom. And when I got to college, what I wanted to do was race my bicycle. So I wanted to be a professional cyclist. I enrolled in at Virginia Tech to be an engineering student. But I found out in about two weeks that I really didn't want to be an engineer. I just I just really didn't enjoy it. And I continue to race my bike, I thought, I'll just get through college, I'll race my bike, I'll become a professional then I'll figure out what I want to do and maybe go back and get a math degree. Well, between my freshman and sophomore years, I lost my best friend, Chris. He died of a brain hemorrhage and it really kind of it put me into depression, kind of as I look back thinking about it, but after a year of racing my bike and really pouring my heart and soul into cycling, I wasn't really happy. Cycling wasn't like the beach. And all that it was before he passed away. For me, I started looking at other opportunities to make money. I want to be able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I started trading in the stock market. I mentioned Clint, he gave me a Money Magazine article and talked about starting a Roth IRA I started investing in the stock market. But then I found real estate after a couple years of investing. And the ability to actually kind of, as I talked about in my book control appreciation or by asset and approve its value, was very appealing to me. Also, when you're a college student, you don't have a ton of money. I was able to buy my first investment property with less than $1,000. So I really became an investor to have that freedom. And then I molded my career and the rest of life around fueling those investments so that I could ultimately end up doing what I wanted to do and have that freedom to make the most out of not only my life, but also the talents that I've been given.
How do you form relationships with high profile people?
That's a complex answer, I think. But I think it starts with one simple thing and that's with integrity. So if you are a professional, if you're even a young person if you're listening, do your best. That's what we teach our boys. So you want to do what you say you're going to do, and you want to do it to the best of your ability and high profile people spot that. They see drive, they see talent, it's almost like they can sense it. Now, whether you're an athlete or professional in any aspect of your career or life, I think that's the foundation. The other thing is if you find someone, I talked about this a lot when people say what advice do you have, find somebody who you can model success. So find somebody that's done what you want to do, and then ask them, ask them for their advice. I think people that are successful, like to share their success flaws are flattered, especially if it's first generation success, which we see a lot of that out there. So, do your best, do what you say you're going to do and feel free to ask people that you respect. If you do those two things, you're going to rapidly build a network.
Can you share with our listeners one of your favorite networking stories or experiences that you have
I would say probably recently, so I've developed a relationship with Open Doors of Nashville. They help shrink the gap between children and poverty. And the executive coach that I work with, we met through an investing group, but then we ended up maintaining our relationship because we both go to CrossFit together. So we've I've seen him in CrossFit, my boys are eight and ten. My wife has seen his family there and his children. He has a young son Connor who’s 17 and just ran 100 miles straight to raise money for this nonprofit, Open Doors of Nashville. And through my networking with Chris and the relationship that I've built with him over the years from a couple different, what I would call networking groups from an investing group, as well as CrossFit, which if you don't know, CrossFit, that well, there's a lot of community involved in that. But there's a big overlap there. And then ultimately, my wife ended up pacing Connor and through our sponsorship in support of this event through Chris, we were introduced to Open Doors and now we have a nonprofit endeavor where we're working with open doors to develop a financial literacy program. So if you kind of look at the pathway of multiple networking opportunities that are that are overlaid there.
How do you best nurture your network and community that you've created?
I think the easiest thing you can do is just reach out when people have a birthday is one thing. So I think it's forgotten. I still try to text people or give them a call on their birthday. Or maybe if you're on Facebook that's another great way that's really simple. So if you want to get started in networking and staying in touch, find out people's birthday. I think when you go up another level now you're talking about how do you basically cultivate a platform and a communication cadence so you're staying in touch with people. And kind of like an influencer, if you will. And what we've done with Next Level Income is we've developed content with the goal to help people achieve financial independence first through education. So we put out a lot of educational content that I've written over the past several years. We reach out once a week and provide them hopefully something that they see value in, and if it resonates a lot of times people will reach back out to me and do that. Again, really easy keeping in touch with people on a quarterly or annual basis.
What advice would you offer that business professional who's looking to grow their network?
I think one thing that I've really focused on over the past year is my LinkedIn network. So if you are trying to grow in business, whether it's kind of move up the corporate ladder, or you're trying to expand that network, I would definitely utilize LinkedIn, you can kind of reach out to different connections. Once you've built your network out, again, now you have to consider what your goals are. If you're building a platform, you're probably going to be putting content out there. If you're not, then just decide if you're looking for a new job with a company, start to network, reach out to people. You can go through LinkedIn or grab their email and reach out to them and just see if they have a few minutes to talk but make sure you have a point. Be direct, be clear with what your intentions are. And the other thing is, if you're going to talk to somebody, do a little bit of background research, because an individual I had a call with had some questions for me and really hadn't even checked out my website, and some of the stuff that I had up there. So, again, that's the opposite of what to do. If you want to grow your network. You know, do it organically through connections that you already have. And then to deepen those relationships, try to have one-on-one conversations, but make sure you're trying to provide value, or at least you have some background knowledge on those people.
Between digital networking and traditional networking, which one do you find more value in?
I still love sitting down face to face with somebody and having lunch. If you look at my goals, you'll see that once a week a face to face is still on there. So it's obviously it's a little more challenging now in a time of COVID, as we still are, but as the weather changed, I made an effort to meet people and we would go for a walk and we would have a conversation, or we would eat outside and do that. I think there are elements that we still don't fully appreciate when it comes to the human being, whether it's, kind of the transfer of energy or just reading body language. And Zoom does a good job of transmitting some of that. But I still don't think there is a substitute for one on one sitting down. So I highly encourage anybody listening if you have a really important meeting, or really important relationship that you're trying to build, I would make the effort to do that in person.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of, less of, or differently with regards to your professional career?
I think what I would advise myself to do is, is listen a little bit more to the advice that I was given. I always kind of tried to try to choose my own path and do that. But if I could go back, I would say okay, take some of this advice from people that you want to emulate. And even if you disagree with it, dig a little bit deeper and figure out why it is and don't make an assumption when it comes to that. And then I would double down on that I would, I would find those people that were successful. And what I would probably do today is just find any way to work with them. And what I mean by that is I would probably offer to work for free, almost like an apprenticeship and find something of value that I could offer them. Figure out what they wanted to do, and then do it.
We've all heard of the six degrees of separation. Who would be one person that you'd love to connect with, and do you think you could do it to sixth degree?
My wife knows, I always had a thing for Elizabeth Hurley, we were born on the same birthday. She's English. I don't know if I could figure out how to how to meet her. That was kind of a joke. But there is another Chris Larsen. He founded Ripple and I think it was eLoans back in the day. And a lot of times I'll see him pop up like when I'm doing some stuff on our website. So Chris Larson will pop up. The most high-profile Chris Larson out there. So in all seriousness, I would love to meet him.
Do you have any final word or advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
Yeah, don't hesitate, don't hesitate. Don't be afraid to reach out. You’ll get some rejection but it's a very small amount. And you know, I'm of the abundance mindset. So when you're reaching out to people, you and your message and your energy will resonate with those people that feel the same way. So don't hesitate. Ignore any rejection that you get, and you'll find those connections that ultimately will help fulfill the destiny and that talent that you have.
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