Brian Buffini was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, and immigrated to San Diego in 1986 where he became the classic American rags to riches story. After becoming one of the nation’s top Realtors, he founded Buffini & Company – an organization dedicated to sharing his powerful lead-generation systems with others. In his New York Times bestseller The Emigrant Edge Brian shares seven characteristics that successful immigrants have in common that can help anyone reach a higher level of achievement.


Michael Alden: All right, well my name is Michael Alden, we are here in Blue Vase Studios, and again, I always talk about how excited I am to have my guest. Today I was talking with my daughter, and I was bringing her to camp, she says, “Dad, do you like interviewing people?” I said, “Honey, I love interviewing people because I get to sit down and talk with entrepreneurs from all walks of life, and business people from all walks of life, and really, people from all walks of life.” My next guest is a classic entrepreneur, his story is amazing, he came to this country literally with just under $100 in his pocket, and he’s grown his businesses and his company, literally, into an empire.

And it’s a really, really interesting story, he’s just an amazing, dynamic person, he’s grown his company, one of his companies, to one of the largest training companies in the United States, especially as it relates to the world of real estate. I was talking to some of my real estate friends, and they all know who he is. My next guest, his name Brian Buffini and he’s the author of his book that’s coming out very, very soon. It’s called The Emigrant Edge: Why It’s So Easy To Make It Big in America. He’s here to talk to us a little bit about his book, but also just to talk about the things we always talk about here on The Alden Report.

Success and adversity, and how to overcome all this stuff. Brian, thanks for being my guest.

Brian Buffini: Well thanks for having me, Mike. Excited to spend the time with you today.

Michael Alden: Well again, I know you’re a busy guy, so thank you, again. Obviously learned a little bit about you. I’ve watched some of your videos on YouTube. I’ve been on your website, BrianBuffini.com and your book The Emigrant Edge. I know you’ve written and co-written a couple of other books and produced some other things. We have a list of 10 questions I think we sent in to you, we’d like to ask everybody, but before we even get into those questions, tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and how you got it to where you’re at today.

Brian Buffini: Yeah, well I grew up in Dublin, Ireland, son of a house painter, so five generations of house painters. So no Buffini’s ever had a job, ’cause we’re unemployable, right? And came to the States. Ireland in the mid-80s was pretty economically disadvantaged; I would say would be a fair way to put us.

Michael Alden: Sure.

Brian Buffini: And so came to the States, $92 in the wallet. Came out here, did all kinds of typical things an immigrant would do. Do odd jobs, sell T-shirts at the beach off a cart, and worked in a photo map, was a security guard, and I ended up getting in a motorcycle accident, and that kind of changed things, so I’m 19, I’m a long way from home, next thing you know you have $250 thousand’s worth of bills, medical expenses, all that kind of good stuff, and I got to get going. So got into the real estate business and worked really well at it, and developed a neat system. So within about five years, I was number five in the state of California, within seven, number five in the country. So was doing pretty well as a young guy, doing well, making money in real estate, buying real estate.

And then they would ask me to come and give talks at these different real estate conventions, and I would just tell people what I was doing, and the next thing you know, people are saying, “You’ve got to tell us how you do that and how do you do that.” So 21 years ago, I built a Buffini company, and now we’ve trained 3 million people in 37 countries. We have 20,000 clients we coach. And that’s now spread out to 40+ different industries. So yeah, you wake up one morning, you go, “How did I get here?” But the main thing is, I landed in America, and even though I had a bit of bad fortune in the beginning, I landed in the land of opportunity. So it’s been all good, as you say.

Michael Alden: Now let me back track a second there, I love hearing this stuff, ’cause I’m friends with real estate guys, I’ve had Armando Montelongo who was on, he’s on the A&E show, “Flip This House”, and he’s built a career. Dean Graziozi, I’m really close with. Also, another author and fellow real estate entrepreneur. And I love when people, and I hear this, people say this, they say, “I just got into real estate.” How do you just get into real estate? I’m an attorney by trade, it’s a property law, I bought and sold a couple houses. How do people just get into real estate? ‘Cause I still think it’s confusing.

Brian Buffini: It’s gorgeous. You have to go to law school, you have to do all these things, you have a phenomenal story where you started and where you are now. The thing about real estate, it’s probably the purest form of entrepreneurship there is because it’s not that expensive to get in, you don’t have to go to college for years, and years, and years. You basically, you take a test, and now you can take a test and get in. Think about, I didn’t know anybody, I was an immigrant, I didn’t have any money, I was in the bottom half of my class in school.

If it wasn’t for people like me, there actually wouldn’t even be a top half to be honest with you. And so I got my license. Now here’s the thing about it is, real estate is pure because you only get out of it what you put in.

Michael Alden: Right.

Brian Buffini: So the average realtor in America, it’s not millions and billions, the average realtor in America makes 30,000 in gross commissions.

Michael Alden: Wow.

Brian Buffini: Now I have 20,000 clients, about 17,000 of them are realtors, and they make about $350,000. So there’s things these guys are doing that the other guys don’t. So real estate’s pure. You’re going to get out of it what you put in, if you … you’re going to show up at the office and you expect to have leads come call you, and you expect to have deals come knock at your door, you’re dead, ’cause you’re self-employed, you’re paying your own bill. So it’s not hard to get into real estate, and once you get in, though, what you got to do is, you got to go to work.

And you got to go to work on yourself, and then you got to really be committed. Now for me, I don’t believe that people make money, I believe the only people who make money work in a mint. I believe you get paid for the direct proportion of how much you sell to people, especially now. And I poured myself into my customers. I did more than I got paid for, and they then told their friends. And I would remind them, I loved your Ask More Get More philosophy, but once I did a great job for people, I asked them for referrals.

Michael Alden: Right.

Brian Buffini: And once I got referrals, then all of a sudden, I was selling 100 homes a year, instead of the average guy selling five.

Michael Alden: Yeah, so the Ask More thing is so interesting too, when you bring that up, and thanks for the plugging in my first book. Is that part, the asking part, even I find real estate agents that even been at it for a while, they don’t ask. And then all of a sudden one of my friends buys a house and then they’ll come up to me after and say, “How come you didn’t say anything to me?” I said, “Well you didn’t ask.” You know what I mean? You didn’t say, “Hey, if you have anybody that’s looking for a house, have them come see me.” And then I do have a couple other real estate friends that ask all the time, and they’re the ones that are really out there, I would say, killing it, making seven figures.

Brian Buffini: Well I think the big thing is, a lot of people don’t want to be perceived as the pushy sales person, right?

Michael Alden: Right.

Brian Buffini: And most people, what they want, is they want someone to buy from them, they don’t want to sell anybody anything. And so, to me, I did lots of little extras for people, I did lots of little neat things. If I found out you had a particular hobby, I met send you some info, or a book on it, or whatever. And I build relationship. I’d know, not only what your favorite restaurant was, I’d know what your favorite food at that restaurant was. So I poured myself into my customers. So I felt like I had earned the right to ask. And I would just say, “By the way, if you know anyone who’s thinking about buying their self a home, give me a call.” And kind of the Columbo method, right? “One more thing.”

But I earned the right, I served, and served, and served. And I think that’s the big thing that people have to get comfortable with, is you don’t want to be a pushy, in your face, kind of obnoxious salesman, right? But you want to give and serve, and earn the right to ask for the business, ask for the order. Because my mother used to say this, she’d say, “A dumb priest never gets a perish.” So if you don’t speak, you don’t get. And so you’ve made a living teaching people about that.

Michael Alden: I want to back track to what you said, you earned the right to ask, and it’s interesting, ’cause I was just talking to one of my sales managers about this. And to me, the first thing that came up was rapport building. Talk a little bit about how important rapport building is, in virtually any business.

Brian Buffini: Well it just, the bottom line is, if you’re in the service industry, you’re in the sales side of things. If you think there’s not a technology coming for your industry, you’re living on Mars, right? So what is it that separates my ability to develop my business from a robot? Or from AI? Or from an app? Or from discounting and so forth, and it always go back to relationship.

Michael Alden: Right.

Brian Buffini: And the bottom line is, I believe that I can do more, and my company can do more to serve the needs of a person, identify the needs of a person, and that when that happens, people will not just shop on price, or just on convenience. And so the world is full of those success stories. So there’s always going to be fantastic technologies and innovations, but so, the first thing for me is you ask people, “I’m going to get on and have a conversation with you today. So what did I do?”

“I read your books, I read your books, I wanted to know who Mike Alden was, I looked at your videos, you did the same for me. I want to know who I was talking to, I wanted to know what you were all about, I don’t know, I like this guy, this guy’s kind of charismatic. I like this philosophy, this guy’s my kind of sales guy, he’s a salesman, I like that he’s promoting, he’s getting, like an entrepreneur. Boom.” So I felt like I had a connection with you before we ever got on the phone today to have a conversation, so I think you got to take an interest in the other person, listening, God gave us the formula. You’ve got two ears, and one mouth. That’s the formula, listen twice then speak, ask great questions.

I always took notes. I would have a list from my best clients, and today, my best clients are corporations like Wells Fargo and these giant corporations of sponsors and do all these things. Well, the top executives at these companies, I have 39 things I want to know about every single one of them. And I used to do that in my real estate career. And it’s what they’re into, what their favorite sports teams are, what their past time are, what their favorite food is, what’s a book that they’d want to read? And all these different types of things. So from time to time, I’ll give you a great example.

Here I am as a struggling immigrant, and I get a referral one day to a guy that’s the president of a local bank, and they’re doing foreclosures back in the early 90s. Well I found out about this guy, and I found out that his kid was going to college, he had an only son. And so, when I met him, I had a conversation with him, and yada, yada, and I sent him a book that said, “How To Prepare Your Child for the First Year of College”. This guy was a stuffy, three-piece suit-wearing banker. He calls me up that day, and his voice is cracking because someone took time and took interest to connect with him, and to deal with him as a person, as opposed to a big dollar sign on his forehead.

Now what happened? That guy ended up handing me that bank’s account, which made up about 40% of that income two years later. So you build relationships, take an interest, here’s the thing, an app can’t do that.

Michael Alden: Right.

Brian Buffini: They might find your search preferences, but they can’t meet the emotional need, and that’s the key. So you identify those emotional needs, do something about it, be persistent with it, and then ask, you’ll be beaten away the customers with a stick.

Michael Alden: Yeah, what I love, too, about the whole rapport thing is, again, goes back to what I said in the very beginning when my daughter asked me, she said, “Daddy, do you like interviewing people and talking to these people?” And I said, “Yeah, I love learning about peoples’ lives.” And the interesting thing about this rapport building that we’re talking about is that if you just had a conversation with somebody, and learned about their life, and you use those two ears the way you should, you may learn something that could add value, and ultimately, help each other out but really could increase your own growth, just by having a conversation. And I learn that every single day.

I literally had a conversation with a gentlemen who was selling some of our products, and I just was talking, and I said, “What do you do? How do you really make money?” And he starts telling me, and I said, “Well that’s perfect for one of our products, why don’t you take your business and we’ll integrate it with what we’re talking about here, and he’s like, “Mike, I never even thought of it.” And if I hadn’t just at least had that conversation with him, “Hey, where you from? What do you do? What’s your day-to-day life like?”

Just little basic things, right? It’s amazing what you could learn when you just ask a question.

Brian Buffini: Yep, and synergizing and brainstorming. You’re a guy that’s interested in growing, and one of my first mentors, Jim Rone said, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job, you go from making a living, to making a fortune.” And that’s the key. Now your radar is up, you’re looking to grow yourself, you’re looking to grow your business, you’re looking to grow someone else’s business. “Hey, where do we have synergies here?” And that’s never going out of style, that’s never going away, and there’s never going to be an app that replaces us.

Michael Alden: Yeah, I love it. Folks, if you’re just tuning in right now, you’re watching right now or just listening right now, we are on with Brian Buffini, he’s the author of “The Emigrant Edge – Why It’s So Easy” And we’ll talk about that “so easy” part in a second, “Why It’s So Easy to Make it Big in America” so if you’d like some more information about Brian, you can just to go BrianBuffini.com, you can also find him on Twitter, @BrianBuffini. You can also find him on Instagram at @Brian_Buffini, and you can also find him on Facebook at BrianBuffini.com, so let’s talk a little bit about this book, “The Emigrant Edge”.

There’s a lot of great details in here. So I guess we’re all immigrants at some point, right?

Brian Buffini: Yes sir.

Michael Alden: So I’m born here in the United States, I don’t necessarily consider myself that, can this book work for me? Or can it just work for people that don’t …

Brian Buffini: Well sure.

Michael Alden: All right, so tell us a little bit about that.

Brian Buffini: You bet. Here’s where it all started, I’ve been in the coaching and training business for 21 years, we’ve coached millions of people and had all this stuff. And so I’m very thankful as an Irish-born man. I’m very thankful for the opportunity I’ve had here in the states. And so I was reading the Hartford Institute of Politics report, and it said that 50% of millennials don’t believe the American Dream is possible anymore. And then a second report that said 50% of Baby Boomers don’t believe that their kids will have it as good as they will.

And I almost fell out of me chair. And I was like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Actually that’s not what I said, I said, “For the love of Mary, you’ve got to be kidding me.” Because there be more millionaires, far more millionaires made in America in the next 50 years than there were in the last 50. And the opportunity’s only growing, the market’s only getting bigger, the GDPs only growing, the excess of capital’s only growing, it’s unbelievable. And so I said, “Well okay, what I’m going to do is I’m going to sit down.”

First, I wrote out my own story. “Okay, this might help people.” And then I said, “Okay, there’s something better than that.” And that is the classic rags-to-riches story, and you are one of those. But the most classic rags-to-riches stories are people who came here with nothing, so they don’t speak the language, often times, don’t know the culture, don’t have any relationships, don’t have any capital, and they come here with everything they own in a bag, which is what I did. 92 bucks and a duffel bag.

So over, and over, and over again, there’s thousands of examples of these folks making it big. A very high percentage of the Forbes 500. Very high percentage of CEOs and founders of Fortune 500 companies are people who’re born somewhere else. And so I started studying and researching those folks, relationships I had, and broke … started interviewing these folks, and it kept showing up, and over, and over, and over again, there were seven traits that I experienced in me own life that I saw in these peoples’ lives. And they kept showing up over and over again.

And the beautiful thing is, these traits are 100% transferable, no matter where you were born, like you said. And so starting out with a voracious open-ness to learn. So when you come from another country, you’re going to go and learn everything you can. And you’re going to make mistakes. And I was a new realtor, you’ll love this, I’m selling homes about $250,000 apiece. Well one day I get a client from New York, $4 million dollar house. And this is 1990, you buying a $4 million dollar house. I’m showing him around, showing him around. I go in the back yard, I open up the Veranda doors and I go, “Now in the back here, we have 37 guacamole trees.”

And this guy’s just kind of looking at me three sheets to the wind there, what’s going on, ’cause I didn’t know that guacamole didn’t grow on trees, avocados did. So when you’re an immigrant, you’re going to learn, and you stay learning. And I think, again, if you work harder on yourself than you do on your job, you make a fortune.

Michael Alden: That’s a classic realtor in you though, right? When you said the guacamole trees, I was reading a book about realtors and they say the best real estate, it might’ve been a Ziglar, might’ve been named Ziglar. The best real estate agents, they don’t sell the real estate, they sell the overall picture and the dream of what it could be. Those trees are really, what you were thinking like a realtor, what it really could be, those avocado trees, ultimately, right, are going to be guacamole.

Brian Buffini: I wish I was that good. Anyway, we got the deal done, that’s the main thing. But you know, again, these, over and over again, I would say people have to be willing to learn. And if someone’s listening to your show, and they’re an entrepreneur and they’re in business, the first thing they got to do is realize that formal education can make you a living, but self-education can make you a fortune. That’s where you got to go, and you got to be a student, and you got to go to lunch with people, and people you admire. And don’t ask them for business, and don’t ask them to invest in your company, just ask them for their insight. Take successful people for a coffee, and say, “I want nothing from you except your insight.”

And when they see you’re sincere, they’ll recommend books to you, they’ll recommend people to you, they’ll recommend relations to you, relationships to you, and then next thing you know, you’re off and running. So that would be the first one. Another principle here that I found is just this do whatever it takes mindset. Just do whatever it takes. And not in an unethical fashion. But whatever it takes, if there’s an obstacle, I’m going to go over it, can’t go over it, I’m going to go over it, going to go around it, going to go through it, going to blow it up and go through it. It’s just whatever it takes.

And that mindset, you should never leave. And so, no matter what I face here, the goal’s important to me, I’m just going to do what it takes.

Michael Alden: Yeah. You know, I was going to say, that, to me, my company, Blue Vase Marketing, we came up with the name from the book “The Go-Getter” and the main slogan in “The Go-Getter” you’ve probably read it, Bill Peck, he says, “It shall be done.” And I think so many people, they hear what we’re talking about, they hear what you’re saying. But when it really comes down to it, when it comes down to a classic action part of actually doing it, people just, they realize that it’s work. I was at an even with Harvey McKay, and I saw a picture with you and Darren Hardy, and sitting next to Darren Hardy, and Harvey McKay gets on stage, and he’s written like 80 books, and he’s 80 years old and he flies in his private jet.

And he says, “You know something? There’s no new secret to success, and there never will be.” And I like, just … And Darren Hardy with the compound effect, and we’re all writing these books, right, you got a book coming out, and I was like, “Man, that hit my like a ton of bricks.” And I was like, “He’s right.” But it’s just, your book, The Emigrant Edge what I really like about your book is that, to me, I’ve read a bunch of different books, but yours does have a different spin, coming from a different country into this country and how that mentality can really translate into success here. That’s what I kind of really instantly just the title itself, I was like, “Wow, that’s a cool concept.”

Even my books, 5% More and Ask More, it’s funny, Darren Hardy, don’t want to get off pace, but I’m sitting next to him, I had never even heard of the compound affect, and I talk about in my book 5% More and you talked about this, actually, in one of your videos, how you consistently compound and just grow, right? And I was like, “Oh, man!” But they’re different books.

Brian Buffini: But yeah, listen to Warren Buffet, I don’t know if you’ve seen the HBO special, Becoming Warren Buffet. He learned from Benjamin Graham. And his whole thing is, he believes in the power of compounding. Einstein said it was the eighth wonder of the world, and he goes, “Those that understand it get it, and those who don’t, they pay it.”

Michael Alden: Geometric progression.

Brian Buffini: Yeah, so look, Thomas Edison’s one of my favorite Americans, right? Think about it, he gave us light, he gave us music, and he gave us movies. The phonograph, motion picture camera, and he developed the light bulb and another 1,090 patents on top of that. He said, “Opportunity comes dressed in overalls and looks a lot like work.” And in the world we’re living in today, and again, I have six kids, and some of them are millennials, you know, and I’ve tried to impart these principles into them, I’m thankful they’ve been successful in their hard work, but they’re surrounded, one of them is a national champion horse rider, another one played college football, and another one just got 13 scholarship offers for basketball.

So they’re hard workers, but they’re often on teams where we’re starting to see this creeping sense of entitlement. And people are wanting something for nothing. The number of As in America’s up 47%, but the SAT scores are down ’cause the parents are badgering the teachers, you know? And you see it in sports; you’re going to see it with your kids, and all these different things. And the bottom line is, that’s why I say you can make it big in America now more than ever before. 50% of the people you’re competing against don’t believe the Dream’s even possible. And a number of them have bought into entitlement, and they don’t believe that work is the essential ingredient to go get it.

And so it’s people like you and I, you’ve had a heck of a story, you’ve had a rough start, and you’re a phenomenal turnaround in your business and life. And that gives you that drive, that gives you that, you never forget where you came from, you always remember those things, and it keeps the drive going. So I think that’s a big thing.

Michael Alden: I spoke to, I had Lest Brown on my podcast just recently, and he’s so phenomenal. And I just said, “Man, isn’t it … it’s the struggle, right man? That’s what makes you …” and he said, “It’s the struggle that creates life.” And then he went on to tell this amazing story about it, and I’m like, “Really? That’s it.” And I read this great book, and I talk about this all the time, I got to get this guy on my podcast, it’s called “The Talent Code”.

Brian Buffini: Oh, I love him.

Michael Alden: Did you read that book? So you know the whole story. For me-

Brian Buffini: He spoke at our event, and Lest has spoken in our events. We’re swinging in the same circle.

Michael Alden: I’d love for you, we’ll talk about that, love for you to introduce me to Dan, because when he talked about physiologically, in the brain, by the way, I got that book because I coach my daughter’s soccer team and I was a football player, American football player, right? And so I bought that book because I wanted to be a better soccer coach. And then when I read it, and when he talked about the mind and how it connects, and the connectivity in our brain, I was like, “Boom!” It clicked for me why, ’cause again, you know a little bit about my background and my family members, and everyone else has had all these troubles, what makes me really different, and I’m like, “Wow, that’s really it man!” It was the struggle, but I just kept getting up.

A lot of the stuff we talk about, and you get it, because your background, and this is why I love doing this podcast talking to guys like you and getting this information out, but there’s really no secret, like you just said. You just got to do work.

Brian Buffini: There’s books called the secret, and this, and that, and the other, and you’re going to track success in your life, and there’s parts of that, there’s an element of that can be true for sure. But at the end of the day, it comes dressed in overalls, looks like a lot like work. One of the old proverbs says there’s nothing new under the sun. That was written several thousand years ago. So I don’t believe there’s nothing new under the sun, I think what people like us can do is stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us, apply these principals in a modern way, that a modern audience can hear us, and that it helps people, and then someone 20 years from now is going to take those same principles we’ve passed on and do a more modern version of it than that, that’s all, it’s just repurposing things and repackaging things.

But you need to hear it over and over again. Because, we’re all like homing pigeons. We all have a self-destruct button. It’s easy to fit in with the crowd. When you conform to the people around you, here’s the thing, not everybody’s going to be wealthy, not everybody’s going to be successful, not everybody’s business is going to boom. 50% of small businesses are going to fail. So when you hang out with people that are not really striving and growing, that’s the end result.

So you got to keep working at it. And that’s why you mentioned all these people, Lest Brown and I have known each other 20 years, and here I’m talking about a willingness to outwork others. What does Lest say? You got to be hungry.

Michael Alden: You got to be hungry.

Brian Buffini: You got to be hungry.

Michael Alden: It ain’t over until I win.

Brian Buffini: Yeah. Right. So you mentioned “it shall be done”. Well Og Mandino, who is the only books that sold more books than him in the 20th century was the Bible. And the greatest salesman in the world. He says, “I shall persist until I succeed.” And that’s a do whatever it takes mindset… just better said.

Michael Alden: I want to, since you talk about success in a second, I want to ask you my number one question that I always ask people. Folks, we are on with Brian Buffini, he’s the author of “The Emigrant Edge – Why It’s So Easy To Make It Big in America” if you’re looking for a book, if you’re looking for some that’s a little bit different, instantly, when I saw this book, I get a lot of books sent to me, and I got a chance to talk to a lot of different people, but as soon as I saw this book at the title, and I read a little bit about Brian, I was instantly attracted to it because of what he’s talking about in here and how these principals can really applied to anybody. He’s got an amazing story, he’s doing some amazing things, he’s done it, and he’s continuing to do it. And again, this book really puts a bit of a different spin on success, personal growth, and it’s something that I would highly recommend.

So if you want some more information, you can find the book on Amazon, you can find it on BooksAMillion, you can find it on BarnesandNoble.com. You can just Google him, you can also find Brian Buffini at BrianBuffini.com he’s on Twitter #BrianBuffini, Instagram @Brian_Buffini, and he also has a huge following on Facebook @BrianBuffini as well. Now Brian, you’d mentioned the word success, I love to ask this question, especially to people like you and that, for all intents and purposes, have achieved uber success.

How do you define success?

Brian Buffini: Okay, so in the business world, I would define it this way. The richest guy who ever lived, Solomon, said, “If a man has enough to eat and drink, a roof over his head, and loves the work that he does, can’t tell the paths in the one day to the next.” And I think that’s the big thing for me. And I think that’s the big thing for me. I think you have to work hard to get there. But when you’re a kid, Mike, in summer vacations, or summer holidays from school. You didn’t know if it was Wednesday or Friday. And I think when an entrepreneur’s really in that zone of their sweet spot. They don’t know what day of the week is unless the calender’s there telling them.

And that, I think, is the purest form of feedback from an entrepreneur. A lot of times people get caught up in the results, “I’m not where I want to be.” Well if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re never going to be where you want to be. There’s always someone with a bigger jest, that’s what I learned. I bought my first airplane 20 years ago, and there’s always someone with a bigger jet. So the bottom line is, when you’re just loving it, like your daughter asked you, “Do you enjoy interviewing people, Daddy?”

Yeah, this is the juice. Now when I was … do you love everything about it? Of course not. So in order to build my speaking, and coaching, and training business, I had to go hit the road. So, Mike, I was doing 150 seminars a year.

Michael Alden: Wow.

Brian Buffini: That’s no fun. I’m a dad, I’m a committed husband for almost 30 years. And so I’m away from the family. So here’s the deal. I loved what I was doing, I loved that it was making progress, I didn’t love everything about it. So I went and worked my butt of so that, okay, all right, I bought a plane because I could be in Houston in the morning, come home for dinner at night, that was part of it. But then the second part of it was, okay, I’m going to work in such a way to build a business, now so where I’m at today, is I might do 10 events this year. And so you have to be willing to pay the price to get there, everybody wants to get to heaven, no one wants to die to get there. So I think loving what you do, and I think one of the things I’m encouraged by a lot of the millennials and younger folks, they want to have the sense of purpose and enjoy their work.

But they have to understand there’s a price to be paid to get there. And you don’t love everything about it, but if you’re strategic about it, you’ll come to love more, and more, and more, and more about it all the time ’cause you’ll build your business around your life, which is ultimately the reason to be an entrepreneur in the first place.

Michael Alden: Yeah, yeah, I love it, it makes a lot of sense. You’d mentioned earlier, you mentioned one of the words which was my second question about obstacles and in the entrepreneurial world, and in life in general, we’re always hit with obstacles, and a lot of people just give up so easily. For you, in your professional career, again, you just achieved tremendous success. Can you, maybe, shed some light on what was, and it may be hard for you to answer ’cause you’ve been doing this for so long, what was your most difficult prof obstacle, and how did you overcome it?

Brian Buffini: I was asked in a Q&A session, we had 3,000 people in an event here not so long ago, and the mic’s passed around the audience, and this one guys stands up and goes, “Brian, back when you had problems.” I almost fell off the stage, like, “What do you mean? This morning?” So my brothers, there’s a song by the band called Chumba Wumba, back in the day, I get knocked down, but I get up again. The British drinking song. Well that’s my theme song, the fact of the matter is I have dozens and dozens and dozens of these, but I’ll give you one, and you can paint the picture. So let’s say I’m past the early entrepreneurial stage, we get into maturation.

I have a business that at one stage grew by no less than 40% a year for 11 consecutive years. 400 employees, we’re probably 10 times bigger than our nearest competitor, we’re just killing it, 25% net income off our earnings. The business is cranking, it’s well-run, we’re best in brand, our company’s grown by leaps and bounds, and a lot of it, organically through referrals and endorsements. And at the time, 90% of customers were based in real estate. So here comes the worldwide recession, which happens to be based in the industry I served at the time. So 40% of the people in the industry left, and of those that were left, they were making 57% less.

So think of this, people think about the recession, the real estate market went down 32% in value. The real estate agent business, the income in the real estate agent business went down 87%, that was my market.

Michael Alden: Wow.

Brian Buffini: So 87% of my market disappeared. I had 27 competitors at the time. And so it comes back to this open-ness to learn, do whatever it takes, willingness to outwork others. So I said at the time to my company, first, a recession’s a terrible thing to waste, this is going to hurt, this is going to be painful, but we’re going to come out of this a different type of company than we were going into it. I had to write personal checks, large personal checks, you’re not an entrepreneur until you’ve written personal checks to make payroll, right?

Michael Alden: I hate that part, you’re talking about hating the part, that’s the part I hate, I hate that part, I really do.

Brian Buffini: It’s the badge, it’s like going through buds if you’re a Navy Seal, you don’t get to wear the badge unless you have written a check to make payroll, that’s why when I’ve done some stuff in Washington with some of these political characters who are … who brought me in for different things, they’ve no concept of it because they’ve never had their butt on the line, and they’re trying to make policies for entrepreneurs. It’s a different world. So we came out of that recession. We had basically lost, let’s see, 56% of our revenue as a company, I had to lay off a couple of hundred people, we had big buildings and infrastructure here in California where it’s very expensive to run a business. Go through that whole thing.

And then said, “Okay, what are we going to do?” So we just committed to it, and failure wasn’t an option, I never considered the alternative, I never considered anything but making it, it was whatever it takes. Whatever it takes. So what happened? It took a few years, it was painful, lot of hits, financially, whatever else. We came out the other side. Today, instead of 400 employees, I have 200. Our company does about 14, 15% more than we ever did in our peak, and our margins are 28% higher. Our product mix is four times diversified instead of being dependent on one thing, and one industry, and one type of person. And it’s a simpler-being business, it’s a better business. And when I came out of the recession, there was only one other competitor left, 25 other businesses left. That directly competed with us.

Now they’re starting to come back now that the market’s good again, but we’ve established such a presence in the marketplace, we’re kind of like in the bloodstream of the business. So again, I know that’s a common story for many, many people, but at the end of the day, setbacks and obstacles are the price you pay to be an entrepreneur, and the story.

Michael Alden: And that’s the part that I love that you’re talking about, is that, and so many entrepreneurs, as you’re describing, like you said, I’ve been through it a bunch of times, and actually within the past eight months I’m still almost, I’m climbing out of a challenge right now. And it’s really hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re in this mess, right?

Brian Buffini: Right.

Michael Alden: And I think you have to have a certain mindset of what you talked about before, is do whatever it takes in order to get there, there is no other option, as an entrepreneur, people always talk about having a plan B, and they say, “Well don’t have a plan B.” I’m not sure how I feel about that one way or the other, but if you don’t have a plan B, there is no other option, you have to make it work, right?

Brian Buffini: Right. Sometimes not having a backup plan’s a good thing for sure. I think the big thing is, like I say, and I appreciate your transparency sharing with your audience. Hey, coming out of a tough time, ’cause so many people, so many authors, it’s all sweetness and lights, never had a bad day, and it’s not real, it’s not true. And then people who are actually fighting, biting, scratching, clawing, feel like there’s something wrong with them. The truth of the matter, I sit on a number of boards, and a neat story here recently, we had this guy, a super guy, he’s had a great business and whatever else, and he made a bonehead decision, and it backfired on him, and it cost him millions, and it’s cost him a lot, and whatever else.

So he didn’t show up for this board meeting. So we all called him, we got together for the next one. He comes walking in, puppy dog, he’s the younger guy in the room, and there’s a bunch of fellas in there, billionaires, and they’ve all been there, done that. And so he’s sitting there and he’s like, “Hey, guys, I felt I was embarrassed, I didn’t want to come here, and this and that, I’ve messed up, and whatever else.” And the chairman of the board just big smile, wise man goes, I won’t say his name, because dude, he goes, “We’ve all been there. We’ve all been there. There’s not a person sitting around this board room that hasn’t done what you’ve done, but what you’ve got to do is turn it into the seminar.”

He says, “You just paid a couple of million dollars to learn this lesson, what are you going to do with the information?” That’s just wisdom, it’s true, and we’ve all done it so the one thing I would say is, if someone listening to this program’s in a tough spot is, you need to be responsible, take care of business, don’t find easy way out, but you also got to check out and take time to go dream. If I could wave a magic wand, what would I do, and what would I have. Okay. What got me into this situation, what decisions, what patterns, ’cause we tend to be creatures of habit. And I got to surround myself with some accountability and some people who can speak into my life so I don’t make that same mistake again.

And then the last thing is, make decisions from the place as if you’re the person’s who’s already achieved the goal you want. So I tell people all the time when they’re up in a lot of debt, start thinking and acting like a debt-free person, make decisions from that place.

Michael Alden: Right.

Brian Buffini: Don’t make stupid decisions. Don’t make short-term decisions, the one thing you can’t do is this, is another story I know a fella who had terrible thing happen, and kind of had somebody swindle him out of a business he’d worked towards for 10 years. And he was just his back against the wall, and he’s a grinder, he’s a do whatever it takes guy, he worked hard. And so what he did was he kind of worked the system, built himself another business, made a bunch of money. But the problem was, he made these short-term decisions based on his immediate need. And along the way, he ruined his reputation.

Michael Alden: Yep.

Brian Buffini: So now he has the big business, but no reputation, and now the business is in serious trouble again. And so you make the decisions from the place you want to be, the person you want to be, the life you want to have, and you go, “What would that person do in this situation? What would that person do with this decision?” And here’s what it’ll do, it’ll help you not make short-term decisions based on your current needs. And I think that’s the big encouragement I’d give somebody.

Michael Alden: That makes a lot of sense. So again, we’re on with Brian Buffini, he’s the author of “The Emigrant Edge – Why It’s So Easy To Make It Big in America” if you’d like some more information about Brian Buffini or his book, you can just find it on Amazon, BooksAMillion, Barnes and Noble, you can also just visit his website BrianBuffini.com, he’s on Twitter, Instagram, andFacebook, he’s doing a lot of great things, a lot of great free content, too. You can find him on YouTube, I watch a bunch of his videos on YouTube, I loved watching some of the things he has to say, and what I really like also about Brian is his authenticity. Brian and I just briefly touched upon, there’s a lot of guys out there that are going to try and show you how to be successful, and teach you how to be successful, and they’ve never done it in their life, they’ve never experiences adversity.

They’ve never experienced really what it’s like. Brian’s done it, he’s doing it, he came to this country with nothing, it’s a great story, so it’s a great book, so again, pick it up, “The Emigrant Edge” and here’s the question I’m going to ask you, though, why it’s so easy to make it big in America? Is it really easy to make it big in America?

Brian Buffini: It is compared to every other country in the world.

Michael Alden: Okay.

Brian Buffini: So it’s not easy as in you go across the street and pick up a million books and go back to bed. But here’s what I would say, it’s a matter of perspective. If you’re on welfare in America, you’re in the top 20% of earners in the world.

Michael Alden: Wow.

Brian Buffini: You follow me? Now it doesn’t mean there’s not poverty and hardship in America, I’m involved in a lot of different things with regards to the inner-city communities and things like that. But here’s what I’m going to share with you, if you’re in the bottom 5% of America, you’re better off than 70% of the world. If you’re in America, I was here, if you have an idea, if you have drive, Americans will give you a chance. Americans are amazing people, you open up a store, you go to Khazakistan, and you open up a store, and they go, “You’re not from here. We don’t know what you’re about.” And again, I’m sure there’s some folks from there, just giving you an example. You open up, here I am, I’m a Dublin kid, young, my first listing appointment I went in a borrowed car that was a deadhead mobile.

And I go on an appointment, and this gal, I said, “I don’t know, I’m young, I’m new in the business, I don’t know everything, but I promise you, if a question comes up, I’ll get you the answer. And I promise you this, I might not be the most experienced guy, but I know lots of experienced people. And I’ll do this, I’m going to give you everything I have.” And this gal gave me a chance. Here’s the thing, Americans will do that. You open up a restaurant, they’ll go, “I’ll give it a shot.” Americans will do that, they’ll walk into a place they’ve never heard of. You open up a restaurant or a coffee shop, or a deli, whatever, they’ll give you a shot, and they’ll give you a chance.

And if you prove yourself, they’ll give you a shot again. If you prove yourself and go the extra mile, they’ll tell their friends. And so here’s why it’s easy. 50% of the people in their surveying right now, don’t believe the American Dream’s possible. Well you tell me. If you’re going in to play a game, Mike, and the team you’re playing against doesn’t believe they can beat you, I’d say that’s pretty easy.

Michael Alden: I’ll take those odds.

Brian Buffini: If the market is bigger than it ever was, if GDP has grown, if there’s more access to capital than ever before, if you produce a product and go bigger, and farther, and faster than ever before, you can use social media to launch your business. It used to take huge amounts of marketing dollars, and now it doesn’t, you can pinpoint and find your customers. So the fact is, it’s a perspective thing. Now by the way, it’s still hard work, it’s still up at dawn, down at dusk, it’s still, I have to go on the road and do 150 gigs and stay in a lot of crappy hotels, and go to a lot of towns, and sometimes I showed up and there was giant bar loads full of people.

In the early days, I remember one time I showed up to an event, there was two people at it, one of them was the other speaker.

Michael Alden: Really, oh boy.

Brian Buffini: There were two speakers, and one person in the audience, that’s so sorry. Now, today, people come and they go, “Oh, I got thousands and thousands of people and we have all these great speakers come at these events. And my events are sold out a year in advance, and all these …” people go, “Great.” Well here’s the thing, that wasn’t where I started, that wasn’t even where I got there in the middle, I’m at this almost 30 years. So the bottom line is, it’s not simple, but it is easy. It’s just easy compared to everywhere else.

And there’s a lot of people like you say, entitlement is creeping, so complaining increases. When you find yourself complaining, what you’re ultimately exposing in yourself, and we all have this, is what you feel you’re entitled to. So the bottom line is, the beautiful thing about America is, if … You get out of it what you put into it. And so you can do it. And I will say. There’s far more fortunes to be made in the next 50 than there were in the last. And what more could you want?

Michael Alden: No, I absolutely … when you tell that story about you speaking, I did stand-up comedy for a few years. And I would go, literally, and it’d just be me and my girlfriend in there, and I would be telling jokes about her, in front of her.

Brian Buffini: That’s awesome. I saw something at the comedy club you did yeah.

Michael Alden: I did an event, we launched the network marketing company, and the day we launched it, I decided, you know what, I’m going to have a … we’re going to have a live event, we’re going to have it right here, in our studio. We have a TV production studio, too, and the radio studio, we’re going to do it live right here, and we’re gonna invite people, we’re going to film it, we’re going to go live on Facebook and do all these things, and literally, there were just two people in the room, and the two people within the room both worked for me.

Brian Buffini: Yep, been there. But that’s part of the deal, now here’s the deal, those are the great stories now. But you know what the truth is? That’s the good old days.

Michael Alden: Right, right.

Brian Buffini: And here’s an interesting story, on the flip side of that. So I had … we were filling events and whatever else, and again, we’ve spoken to millions of people, but back in the day, no one knows who you are. So we’re promoting and marketing, and this, and that, well I hire this hotshot guy and he tells me he’s going to do this, and this, and this. So he tells me there’s going to be 800 people on this one event, this is 21 years ago. So I go up there, and there’s 35 people, in a bar room, that’s set for 800.

And we start closing off parts of this conference center and whatever else, and I’m outside going, “What am I doing? I had a good real estate business, what am I doing this for?” And my brother said to me, he said, “You told me you were interested in helping people. And you told me, and the reason I came to work for you was, you said if there’s one person in the room that needs my help, I’ll go do it.” He goes, “I guess we’re going to find out today who you are.” And you know what, for the last 21 years, in that experience, I don’t care if there’s 7,000 people in the room, I’m speaking to one. I’m going to find the one that needs me. And you know what, at that day, there was a gal in the room named Genie Vance.

And she was a single mom, the husband had cleared out her bank account, she was desperate, she had nothing going for her, she started off on our program. 15 years later, Genie Vance sold her business, moved to Hawaii to live out her dream. But I met her that day in the midst of the obstacles. So the bottom line is, this is what you decide what you want to do, you decide why you are going to do it, and then you’re going to figure out how to get it done.

Michael Alden: And it ties to what you’re saying earlier, and in one of your videos I was watching, too, and we mentioned Darren Hardy, the author of the compound effect in success magazine. So like you said, you had 35 people in the room, you had that one great, amazing success story. But then it just grows overtime, right? And so you start out with 35, and that 35 might be 40, and then it might be 45, and then 50. And then it starts to compound, and we talked about Einstein, geometric progression, and before you know it, you have thousands of people in the room, but you got to start somewhere, so many people don’t realize, again, you know what it’s like, I literally just did this a few months ago back in April, and I’ve spoken in big rooms too.

And I sitting in my own studio in front of two people on camera trying to project the image that there’s a million people in the room, and it’s just me. So … but you got to start somewhere, you got to put yourself in that situation.

Brian Buffini: You’ll find out who you are and why you’re doing it. Right? I’m going to do an event next week that has 3,000 people flying in from all over, and it has that same number of people on the waiting list to get into the event. Now I’m the same guy that had two people in the room. You keep serving, you keep being faithful, you keep being relentless. And again, why is it easy to make it big in America? Because if you actually have the desire, and you have the goal, and you have the dream, what else are you going to do? Here’s a thought I’m going to give to you, Mike, that I think would help your audience, right? So tell me, where did your ancestors come from? Where did your predecessors come from, what countries?

Michael Alden: Ireland and Italy.

Brian Buffini: Come on.

Michael Alden: Yeah.

Brian Buffini: So here I am, Buffini, the Italian name.

Michael Alden: An Irishman, I said that somebody, he goes, “This guy’s got an Italian last name, he’s from Ireland.”

Brian Buffini: Yep. So like nitro and glycerin in the same body. So I want you to think about those folks. So in your DNA, it’s in your bloodline. Somebody, a number of folks, left everything they know, left everyone they know, which is a heart breaker, by the way, got on a boat, got on an airplane, whatever, probably a boat more likely. And traveled across the seas, went to a place they didn’t know, where they didn’t know the culture, the language, and whatever else, and came with very little. Now I want you to think, that’s in your bloodstream, right?

Michael Alden: Right.

Brian Buffini: When you think about these two thoughts as you go forward, and this will be the gift I want to give you, and all of your listeners today, and this is why I wrote the book. What would your predecessors do with your opportunity? If they had your opportunity today, what would they do with it. How would they pursue it? And the second thing is, what would they think of the challenges you face, the obstacles you face? The obstacles you face are probably what they would’ve dreamed about.

Michael Alden: Right.

Brian Buffini: What you’re doing is ultimately the fulfillment of why those people took the risk in the first place. You might be a grandchild, or a great grandchild of these folks that came here, and they look at Mike Alden and they go, “That was worth it, it was worth leaving everyone I knew and everything I knew, and everything I’m comfortable about. The food, the language, the culture, the humor, the church, the neighborhood, I left everything behind, and it was worth it to give … I’m looking at my great grandchild, I’m looking at my grandchild Mike and I go, ‘That was worth it.'” And what would they think? You’re going, “Hey, I’m coming out of this tough time, a year ago, whatever else.” What would they think of that obstacle?

Here’s what I think you’d see. They would pursue your opportunity with the greatest of gustos, because they’d be so appreciative of the opportunity and where they came from, and they go, “Man, this is a dream situation.” And I think they’d look at those obstacles, and they’d cut it in half. And I think, for you, and for those listening, is to tap into that which is inside people. Right now, studying ancestry has become the number one search on the internet for the first time since the web became a popular medium. Searching for your ancestry has now overtaken gardening as the number one hobby in America.

Now what I want to do is help people go from not just having a hobby like gardening, but to tap into that and do something with it. And so you think of your family, and your predecessors, and you tap into that, and it’ll give you fire, Mike. It’ll give you a fire, and it’ll be like, they’d be proud of you, they’d be excited for you, they would go after your opportunity like a dog on a pork chop, and they would look at your challenges and go, “Mama mia!” and go, “That’s fantastic.” You know? Depending on how far back they came from Ireland. I have a painting in my office called the Immigrant Ship.

Most of the Irish who left to come to America left on what were re-conditioned slave ships. They called them Coffin Ships to bring the Irish to America. And 50% of the people who’d gone on the boats never made it to the country. They died in transit. Now what would those people think of your opportunity today? They’d kick it in the butt, Mike. And they’d be going, “Okay, so you owe a little debt, and you have a few problems, great, that’s fantastic, I had potatoes that went bad and we couldn’t feed ourselves.”

And so that’s that bit of perspective, that’s that bit of the fire, and I believe America’s days, I believe America’s an anvil that’s worn out many a hammer. America is a nation of people who came from somewhere else looking for something better. And if people will tap into that, they can have something better happen in their lives.

Michael Alden: Wow, you know what? There’s no better way to end this program. Folks, we’ve been on with Brian Buffini, he’s an amazing individual. Brian, I could talk to you for hours, I know you’re a busy guy. He’s the author of “The Emigrant Edge – Why It’s So Easy To Make It Big in America” it’s a great story. His story’s amazing, he’s doing things right now, again, what I love about him is his authenticity, you can hear it in his voice, and his passion for what all of us really need to look within ourselves and look back at what Brian said, “What would our ancestors do with some of the challenges that we have?” And I think about some of the challenges that I’ve had in my life.

And as Brian was describing, what would my grandmother think who used to make us dinner with practically nothing, and then literally eat the fat off the bone because she grew up in the Depression era, what would my grandfather think of the challenges that I’ve had? And if you start to think of your life that way, and think about what is truly within you, this book is going to help you, again. It’s “The Emigrant Edge” you can find it on Amazon, you can find it on BarnesAndNoble, BooksAMillion. You can also learn more about Brian Buffini at BrianBuffini.com, he’s on Twitter, he’s on Instagram, he’s also on Facebook, you can find him, as well, on YouTube, he’s out there doing a lot of great things.

An amazing story, amazing guy, I’m so glad Brian, that you spent the time with me, thank you, again, for being my guest.

Brian Buffini: Thanks for having me, Mike, I love your work, and I wish you the very best, and I know great things are ahead for you. That’s for sure.

Michael Alden: Thanks again, my name is Michael Alden, and we’ll see you soon.

Share