Grant Cardone — an American motivational speaker, sales trainer, author and real estate investor — started his career at 25 as a used cars salesman in Louisiana in the US.
With the stereotypes that might conjure up, he tells The National, "The reason why people don't like sales is because of all the trickery that is added to it."
Mr Cardone, 61, says his sales training to individuals, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies like Google, Toyota and Ford, over the past several decades simply uses overlooked opportunities and customised strategies.
Whatever it is that led him to be billed as the “world’s number one sales trainer”, Mr Cardone has spread his “10x growth” philosophy far and wide through seven companies, eight books and international speaking engagements, including a talk at the National Achievers Congress at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai this weekend.
But if there is one thing to take away from Mr Cardone, it’s this: “Every person on this planet should be investing in real estate before stocks or cash,” he says. “If you would just buy the real estate and have somebody living in it who pays you a cheque every month on it, you’re guaranteed to weather storms.”
He does not recommend people buy real estate for the purpose of living in it and does not even own his own house.
“I love real estate — [it's a] completely different conversation than buying a house. I buy real estate that pays me every month. That’s where I spend all my money,” he says.
He says too many people buy a house, rather than invest in themselves, their branding and their marketing. “I know people that have more money invested in a home than they do in their business,” he says. “The priority is incorrect.”
Now worth an estimated $300 million (Dh1.1 billion), according to Celebrity Net Worth, Mr Cardone had a rocky start in life.
“My dad died when I was 10. Between the age of 10 and 25, I just didn’t have any leadership,” he says. “When I was 25, I got out of college and the only job I could get was a sales job.”
He made a commitment to becoming a good salesman and “ended up reaching the top 1 per cent of the auto industry”, he says.
Today Cardone Automotive Resources, established in 1989, helps dealers increase sales and profitability and reduce turnover. His other businesses include real estate investment firm Cardone Capital, a digital advertising agency, a YouTube channel, a podcast and “Cardone University”, an online business training platform that boasts over 50 million users.
His sales strategy programmes have also trained “hundreds of thousands of people through companies”, he says. His speaking fees go up to $250,000 and his online training platform sells for anywhere in the range of $5,000 for individuals to $40,000 to $60,000 for companies, sometimes more.
Mr Cardone's books include If You're Not First, You're Last and The 10x Rule, a guide to help entrepreneurs and others aim 10 times higher and achieve their goals. The best-selling book was the inspiration for the 10x Growth Conference in the US, a three-day annual event started in 2017. The last one in Miami, Florida in February attracted over 35,000 people with ticket prices ranging from $300 to $15,000.
Mr Cardone wrote The 10x Rule in 2010, following the financial crisis, which began in 2007 with a collapse of the subprime mortgage market in the US. He estimates his net worth was $6m to $10m at the time, but the crisis was a "serious wake-up call".
“I had spent 25 years in business, by everyday comparisons I was extremely successful, yet I was still worried all the time. My businesses were still susceptible,” he says. “That validated when the economy fell apart.”
He says the 10x rule was born out of that experience. “I realised I had let my family down and I had let myself down, because my businesses weren’t big enough,” he says. “10x is about expansion. People around the world are thinking too small.”
Real estate is where Mr Cardone has found his 10x growth. He started investing in property in the 1990s, focusing on affordable housing in tertiary markets. Cardone Capital now has $1.3bn in real estate holdings in eight states in the US, mainly in “warm and [state] tax-free” places like Florida.
“We buy $80m to $100m apartment complexes — not one unit, but 500 units at a time — in one location,” Mr Cardone says. “People live there and they pay rent. We collect the rent and distribute the leftovers as a yield to the investors.”
The number of units owned has multiplied from 600 to over 6,000 units, and Mr Cardone hopes to reach $10bn in holdings in the next five years. He says real estate has helped guarantee financial security for him and his family.
As well as advocating investing in property to rent out, he hopes to squash other “falsities” that people have fallen into, such as saving money for retirement and limiting growth because of the “wrong money mindset”.
“Cash is trash,” Mr Cardone says. “I want to get rid of the trash and buy something valuable. Something valuable would be real — a real asset or a business that would produce more money.”
He says people should be looking for explosive growth, rather than settling. “If you think Dh124,000 is enough to live on, then that’s what you’ll end up making,” he says.
What makes Mr Cardone different than any other motivational speaker out there — such as the legendary Tony Robbins?
“I don’t waste any time trying to be a life coach. I’m teaching people strategy — the technical, how to grow your business,” he says. “Nobody has to get up and get excited. You don’t need to get excited — what you need is a strategy.”