Becoming the American Dream– Interview with Yesenia Nogales

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The Yesenia Nogales Interview

When she moved to San Diego from her tiny Mexican town at the age of 18, Yesenia Nogales didn’t know anyone, and she didn’t speak any English. The fifth of ten children, Yesenia was used to doing things on her own, so she got a waitressing job and memorized the questions she would need to ask customers. Within five years, Yesenia had started her first restaurant, and she was well on her way to achieving the American dream.

Now, Yesenia is a real estate agent and consultant with the SoCal Lifestyle Team at Big Block Realty and the cofounder of WeLease Property Management USA. With 15 years of experience as an agent, Yesenia serves as the president of the San Diego NAHREP, and she is an advocate for building wealth through real estate investing. Today, Yesenia joins Oliver to share the story of her journey to the US, discussing how she eventually learned the language through ESL classes and a roommate who spoke only English. 

Yesenia describes how she went from waitressing to owning her own restaurants and explains how a desire to be present for her daughter inspired the transition to real estate. She also offers insight around the lessons she learned as a top-producing agent and her aspiration to leave a legacy through real estate investing. Listen in for Yesenia’s insight on how books served as her mentors and get inspired by her fearless story of achieving the American dream!

Yesenia Nogales Interview | Becoming the American Dream | Founders Club

Here is how the interview breaks down:

[0:45] Yesenia’s journey to the United States

  • Grew up in tiny Mexican town as fifth of ten kids
  • Followed family to US at 18, didn’t know English
  • Memorized questions for first job as waitress

[8:06] Yesenia’s enduring entrepreneurial spirit 

  • Love of learning, always looking for what’s next

[9:31] Yesenia’s experience in the restaurant business

  • Found great location in downtown San Diego
  • Expanded to four locations, ran for 12 years

[15:06] Why Yesenia transitioned to real estate

  • Wanted to be present with two-year-old daughter
  • Always interested in potential to build wealth

[17:39] Yesenia’s first real estate deal

  • Hispanic family, first-time home buyers
  • Found at Open House (focus on specific area)

[22:00] How Yesenia put her siblings through college

  • Youngest sister UCLA grad, works for US Embassy
  • Brother received master’s from Harvard

[28:18] Yesenia’s top lessons learned as a top producer

  • Faith + hard work + action = success
  • Not afraid of starting over if necessary

[31:26] How Yesenia has overcome her challenge with English

  • Reading to keep focus (motivational books)
  • ‘Books were my mentor’

[32:37] What’s next for Yesenia

  • Growing property management company
  • Transition to investment side of market

[34:26] Yesenia’s advice for her younger self

  • Get education and take action
  • Don’t be afraid to network

Listen Here:

Key Takeaway:

Yesenia Nogales joins Oliver to share her inspiring story of achieving the American dream, explaining how she became a top-producing real estate agent, investor and entrepreneur!

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Yesenia Nogales Interview | Becoming the American Dream | Founders Club

Full Transcript Below:

Oliver: Welcome to Founders Club, the show for real estate entrepreneurs. It really is the American dream, you are the American dream.

Yesenia: I do think it is the American dream. So, me moving from a tiny, little town, I didn’t know any English and I didn’t know anybody here. And I’m like, “How am I going to survive here?”

Oliver: Welcome to another episode of Founders Club. Today, I’m welcoming Yesenia Nogales, the co-founder of WeLease Property Management. Her story is absolutely amazing. She came to this country not speaking a word of English, became a top producing real estate agent, opened several restaurants and also a large property management business. Looking forward to kicking this off.

So, I wanted to have Yesenia on the show because I really feel like your story’s incredible. I feel it’s perfect, American dream story. It’s motivational, it’s inspirational, it really proves when you want something really bad, you can really do anything. And I think it’s just impressive what you’ve done coming from where you came from to being a top producer, owning a company, being the President of NAHREP, and all these things that you’ve been able to do. And I just want to kind of tell the story because I think… Well, actually let me take it back. I’m going to bring it full circle and I want to talk about why I want to start there because you guys have a development deal down in Mexico that you represent and you took down, who’s filming this with you.

Yesenia: Correct.

Oliver: And when she came back, I was just amazed by the story that she told me, which was that you saw a little girl walking around barefoot, dirty, and just you having the realization that like, “That was me, that was me, that’s where I came from.” And you telling her that was awesome, and I was just blown away by it and I was like “I didn’t know that.” So, let’s talk about that whole transition of how you came from that to a top producer and company owner.

Yesenia: Well, first, thank you for having me. I really appreciate it and I’m really excited to share a little bit of my story because I don’t think I said out loud very often, so not a lot of people know about my story.

Well, I did grow up in a very tiny, little town in Mexico. I mean, everybody knew each other and yeah, that little girl, it actually took me back to my childhood, which that was actually a realization then “Oh, my god, I come a long way.” I haven’t even thought about it until I actually saw that and I’m like “Gosh.” Now, I don’t have a lot of pictures of me as a kid, so I’m one of 10 so you can imagine. And I’m the fifth child of 10 kids.

Oliver: So, you’re right in the middle.

Yesenia: So, I’m right in the middle. I always tell Billy, my husband, “I’m the invisible child,” so I guess that’s where everything started because I have to just survive and do everything on my own. So, I always had that entrepreneur mind and I think just because the way I grew up.

Oliver: And tell me about where you grew up. What was that like?

Yesenia: So, that was… I feel like I really had a really good childhood because even though I had… my mom had 10 kids and I was the middle child, we didn’t have anything, but we had everything. So, we have love and-

Oliver: The important things.

Yesenia: The important things, but you don’t realize… sometimes there was not enough maybe food for everyone, but my mom always made it last. It was some challenges, but I still feel like I had a really good childhood. I had mom, I had dad, and I had brothers and I play around, so very small town, there was nothing to do there and there was not a lot of things. Everything changes when I was about 18 years old when my mom decided to come to the United States. And she came because my older sister was already here and she was coming to assist her because she was going to have her first baby, that was my mom’s first grandchild so-

Oliver: Grandchild, yeah.

Yesenia: She came and she realized that I think that she needed to move her kids too. So, she saw the freedom, I think, and she saw the opportunity there. And, she asked me, she… I was actually one of the last ones to come to the United States because I was already working in Mexico for the Mexican government. She said, “Okay, you’re going to go get your Visa. If you don’t get your Visa, then you’re not coming. But if you get your Visa, I’d like you to come.”

But what she didn’t tell me, I was going to stay because I thought I was just coming for a month, I actually asked for vacation. So, I said, “Okay. Well, let’s go. I’ll do it. I want to explore.” And when I came here, my mom said, “There’s no need for you to move back to Mexico. I’m here, your kid…” She actually brought the whole family here and she’s like, “There’s no need.” And I’m like, I wasn’t happy actually, I’m going to tell you that because I was already 18. I didn’t-

Oliver: I’m sure you had friends and all the whole deal.

Yesenia: I have a boyfriend, I had friends, I was working, I was making some money, and I didn’t know any English, and I didn’t know anybody here. So, me moving from a tiny, little town to… for me, San Diego was a big city back then, huge. I’m not going to be able to move around this city. It was… I was blown away by so many cars and how big it was. And I’m like, “How am I going to survive here?” And so, those were my initial thoughts. I listened to my mom’s still at 18. You do what your mom tells you to do, right?

First thing I did when I found that I was going to stay and I was going back to San Diego, I actually enrolled myself in the ESL classes. So, I went to school actually in the Logan area, the building still exists, but it’s not a school anymore. That was my first school that I went to, and I just said, “Okay, well I have to work, and I have to help my mom, and I have to support my younger brothers,” so there was no choice.

So, my first job was a waitress and actually, I didn’t know any English and I was going to serve people who spoke English and didn’t speak Spanish. And so, it was funny because I actually started writing on a piece of paper. I said, “Okay, well what are the most common questions they’re going to ask me?” Right? They going to say, “So, what would you like to drink? What would you like to eat?” Just normal questions, so I learned them by heart, understanding so I will translate them. I said, “Okay,” but there was one question I didn’t get right because I didn’t have anybody to review it. And there was one question, instead of asking them, “How would you like your steak cooked?” I would say, “How did you like to cook your steak?” They would laugh at me. So, didn’t get it until later, I’m like, “Okay, that something is not…”

But that was just something that it was funny that I still remember, that I used to ask people that. And so, that’s how I started. That was first job and being a waitress, not knowing how to ask some of the other questions. So, it was just very basic and if you were wanting to have a conversation with me in English, I will just smile.

Oliver: Smile and nod.

Yesenia: That smile and that actually might-

Oliver: That will get you by, right?

Yesenia: My smile took, yes, took me, yes. I was really lucky because I really had a good time and I met a lot of people through it. And that took me to my next venture because I learned how to kind of like, I saw people, I saw the advantages, I like to learn. My first business was a restaurant. So, I had a restaurant called Benny’s Mexican Food, here in San Diego. Some people probably may still remember.

Oliver: Let me ask you this because I want to hear that story, but I want to take it back a little bit. Were you always entrepreneurial? Did you always have kind of the hustle to like, okay, if I’m going to learn English and now, I’m going to…

Yesenia Nogales Interview | Becoming the American Dream | Founders Club

Yesenia: I think so. I was the person who always wanted to learn more. I love school. I always think about what’s next for me. I don’t like to feel stagnant. If I’m not learning, I worry. If I’m not reading a new book, if I’m not seeing okay, what’s next for me.

Oliver: So that desire to always get better has always been there?

Yesenia: Yes. I remember I couldn’t miss school. As a kid, I remember one day, I think I got sick. My mom said, “You’re not going to school.” I cry, I said, “I have to go to school.” So, school for me was always very, very important. Even though I didn’t graduate from college because when I moved from Mexico to here, where I lived, there was no opportunities to go to college. You have to go outside and that was very expensive, so my family didn’t have money to pay for my college. So, when I move here, so I have to start all over, I did go to city college and took some courses, but it really didn’t finish my four-year college.

Oliver: Right. That’s amazing.

So then, once you’re here, you’re in the restaurant, you’ve got your script card, you’re generating the lines. Take me how it went from that to actually owning a restaurant because that’s very impressive. And in what kind of a timeline was that?

Yesenia: It maybe took about… from, maybe about five years. Was probably about five years when I owned my first restaurant with my first husband. We opened up one in downtown San Diego, that was on Sixth and A. And, there was actually no restaurant in there, so we actually… we were the first tenants in that building.

Oliver: So, you had to build it all out and everything?

Yesenia: We have to build it all out. Yes, yes. We took a loan, we took out a loan, a small, business loan, and we build it. And it was location, location, location, right too, because it was a great location. I had it for over 10 years and we actually opened up another one. So, we had another one in National City. We actually opened up one also in Phoenix, Arizona, back in the early 90s when all the taco trucks were moving to Phoenix, Arizona. And, that’s how we started, from the ground, there was nothing.

Oliver: So, did you work your way up at the restaurant you were at and then decide to branch off? Or how did that transition happen?

Yesenia: Yes. So basically, yes. When I work at the restaurant, I was also going to school, as well. While I was going to school for ESL and also some computer classes, I saw the place being built right in front of my school. And, that’s when we decided, “Okay, well why don’t we open up a restaurant?” His family had already a restaurant and we were like, “Why don’t we open our own here?” And yeah, two years later, we were there.

Oliver: Very cool. I love that story. That’s really amazing… And how long did it take you to learn the English to where you felt like you were comfortable?

Yesenia: See, when… it took me a little bit. When I got here, I was about, like I said, about 18. It was probably was 21, 22 when I started to feel more comfortable. Two years after going to school, I still didn’t feel so confident. I could actually was able to read and write, but to speak it, no, I wasn’t. So, what I did because in my sphere of influence, no one really spoke English. So, remember, I come from an immigrant family. None of my brothers and sisters, my mom… no one and I didn’t know anybody.

So, what I did, I said, “Okay. I need to probably move myself to a different circle where I can actually force myself to speak English.” So, what I did, I actually… there was a lady that I was referred to and she was looking for a roommate. She didn’t speak any Spanish, and I was like, “Okay, I think I need to move out of my mother’s home and go there.” And yeah, I became her roommate and we started speaking. She started teaching me and I started to meeting other people who couldn’t actually spoke Spanish so that I can force myself to do that.

Oliver: Amazing.

Yesenia: And, yeah, that’s-

Oliver: Think about how gutsy that is to move to a country where you don’t know anyone, don’t speak the language, it’s not like a similar language at all. And then, to not only that, but then to have the guts to say, “I want to really master this. I’m going to move in with someone that doesn’t speak the language that I speak just to force myself to learn English faster.”

Yesenia: And they can introduce me to a different circle because it’s all about where you put yourself too. Right? So, yes.

Oliver: Very impressive. I just want to take a second. I forgot to give a shout out to the beers. Yesenia’s enjoying a jalapeno margarita and I’ve got a Mike Hess Claritas, so cheers to that. Thanks again for coming on.

Yesenia: Thank you for having me, Oliver.

Oliver: The way you overcame the language barrier, you moved in with someone you didn’t know, started conversing with them, which I’m sure was probably interesting for them as well, right?

Yesenia: Of course, yes.

Oliver: And very cool that they were willing to obviously put in work with you too and kind of help each other out. Tell me what happened next?

Yesenia: That’s when I actually… After that I meet my first husband, we went into business together with this restaurant. And I basically run the restaurant for about 12 years, 12 years straight. And it was a lot of work, I mean, I’m telling you-

Oliver: Seven days a week.

Yesenia: Didn’t have any vacations for 10 years. 10 years, it was just straight. It’s a very demanding business, restaurants. So, kudos to people who own restaurants because it’s not an easy job and you got to be there. You just have to be there. And at one point, we had about four at the same time, so having to manage all of that, yes, almost like 40 people. It was a little crazy.

Oliver: And then from that, how did you transition into real estate?

Yesenia: So, I came one day to the house. I had already my daughter, I had my daughter, my daughter was two years old, at that age, at the time, sorry. And so, coming home from the restaurant after working so many hours and my mom was taking care of her. She was two years old, so when my mom left, she needed to leave, my daughter was crying for my mom. And I was there and I’m like-

Oliver: That’s got to be heartbreaking.

Yesenia: That was very heartbreaking, yes. I know that my… As a mom, I feel like I was failing, so I’m like, “Okay, I need to do some changes here,” because I don’t want my daughter to know that I wasn’t there. So, I needed her to know that I was there and that she’ll also miss me. And I felt like that was my breaking point, when I said, “Okay, I need to look for something else that is going to allow me to spend more time with my daughter. That is going to allow me the freedom to work with my schedule.”

Because in the restaurant, even though you’re the business owner, I mean, you got to be there sometimes from open to close. And you can’t close and go pick up your kids to school. You can’t do that, so I said, “Okay, I need to do something else.” And real estate has always been something that I was very interested in. Because I wanted to build wealth through real estate and restaurants for me also was a vehicle to purchase more. That’s the only thing I knew at that time.

Oliver: And you recognized that back then?

Yesenia: Yes.

Oliver: Interesting.

Yesenia: So, for me… but that time where my daughter cried for my mom and she didn’t want to stay with me, that was like, “Okay, that’s it.”

Oliver: Something’s got to change.

Yesenia: Something has to change and she was two years old, so it was the right time for me to do something else and leave the restaurant business and focus on a career that would allow me to be a little bit more present with my daughter. I just wanted to be more present. I wanted to be at her school recitals. Just, yeah.

Oliver: Not working seven days a week, 24-7.

Yesenia: Not that I don’t work now seven days a week, right? But I have the opportunity to pick and choose. I don’t have to open and close at certain times, so, yeah.

Oliver: Walk me through your first real estate deal.

Yesenia: I still remember. Actually, I was pregnant… See, before actually, my daughter was two years old when I actually made my transition, but when I was pregnant, I got my real estate license.

Oliver: Oh, you did. So, you were pre-planning this?

Yesenia: Well, yes, maybe because I wasn’t completely yet convinced that this is what I wanted to do. I think that I realized when she was two years old. But, when I was pregnant, I just couldn’t be in the restaurant for too long. I couldn’t, it was just the smell, everything, me being pregnant, I just couldn’t. So, I had to do something to spend my time with. And so, that’s when I took my real estate license and my first deal was a Hispanic family, first time home buyers. And I love my first-time home buyers because it was nice. It was actually Logan area where they purchased their first home and I was really happy that I was able to help them because it was their first home. And that was my first deal, I remember and…

Oliver: And how did find them or how did they find you?

Yesenia: I always love open houses. So, open houses always work for me, that’s how they found me.

Oliver: And you just do open houses for other agent’s listings?

Yesenia: Yes, always.

Oliver: So, you would what, cherry pick the best ones and then?

Yesenia: Yes. Well, I kind of like to focus on one area. So, I try to focus to call people or agents who have listings in the same area, so that I focus on the same area so that I can actually build a name. And people who live there, drive there, so they can see my signs constantly-

Oliver: See your face, see your sign.

Yesenia: Yeah, see my face, yes. So, yes, but open houses have always been really good to me and that’s how I started through open houses. Didn’t know there was a thing called prospecting, so that was just open houses.

Oliver: And so, how many deals did you do in your first year?

Yesenia: I think in my first year, I did only about nine deals. It wasn’t a lot.

Oliver: That’s pretty good for a first year for, I mean, considering, all things considered.

Yesenia: Yeah.

Oliver: Compared to the average.

Yesenia: Do you think so?

Oliver: I mean, the national average would tell you, if three out of four agents get out to the business in the first year, you did nine deals. I’d say that’s pretty good.

Yesenia: Yeah, I think so. It was, yes, so it was good. And that just made me realize I just need to do it full-time. So, we, I-

Oliver: So that was part-time?

Yesenia: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Oliver: Oh, wow.

Yesenia: Yes.

Oliver: So, you were still working at the restaurant and doing real estate deals?

Yesenia: Yes.

Oliver: And having a two-year-old at home?

Yesenia: Yes.

Oliver: So, those were probably crazy times.

Yesenia: It was crazy times. That’s when I’m like, “I need to just do one thing and one thing only and focus on that and just master that.”

Oliver: And what was it like when you made the final transition to cut the cord with the restaurant and do the full real estate thing?

Yesenia: It wasn’t easy. No.

Oliver: Because I’m sure there’s a lot of doubt too in your head and the lady on your shoulder saying, “Oh no, don’t do that. That’s not the safe bet.”

Yesenia: Yes. It wasn’t easy, but I always somehow, I think… My mindset is things will always work out. If I work hard enough, if I make the right decisions, things going to work out. My mom always taught me that, “Hey, you will always do good as long as you work hard and nothing’s going to happen to you. Just go for it.” So, that’s just-

Oliver: I love that. That’s great advice.

Yesenia: Yeah, she’s always been my inspiration. She was a very strong woman that just leaving Mexico and coming to this country with all of her kids and she couldn’t even drive. She actually learned to drive at 40, I think. Yeah, she did.

Oliver: Wow. Here?

Yesenia: Yes, here. So, she can take her kids back and forth to school.

Oliver: Speaking of school, did I hear that put some of your family members through school also?

Yesenia: Yes.

Oliver: Tell me about that because that’s pretty amazing.

Yesenia: Yes, it’s… School is very important to me so I’ve… When I came here I didn’t have the opportunity to really go to college because I had to work and I have to help my mom and support my brothers and I was able to go to ESL classes on night, but I work through the day. So, my brothers were young kids when they came here. They started elementary and so the time that they were ready to go to college, I was able to offer “Okay, you don’t have to worry about going to work, paying rent. Just go to college, get me good grades and I’m going to keep supporting you. That’s what I’m going to do.” So, that was my promise to my three little brothers. One of my… my youngest sister graduated from UCLA, so I was very proud for her.

Oliver: That’s amazing.

Yesenia: Yes. So, I was always there for her, supporting her in any way I could. I mean, I wasn’t also completely paying for all the college, but I was supporting her financially. And she’s actually went to work for the American Embassy in Cuba.

Oliver: Wow!

Yesenia: So that was really nice from being an immigrant kid and going to Cuba working for the American Embassy.

Oliver: That’s what she does now still?

Yesenia: Yes.

Oliver: Wow.

Yesenia: Then, my other brother who is… He actually graduated from Cornell University.

Oliver: Wow, these are serious universities.

Yesenia: And he also got his Masters at Harvard. Yes, so he was-

Oliver: Good for you guys.

Yesenia: I was pretty proud of him.

Oliver: And how did that feel for you, being able to help with all that?

Yesenia: I feel great. I feel like my sacrifice paid off somehow. Whatever… I was working hard, I knew I had to work, I knew someone have to provide for them and just having them finish a career in those types of schools, SO I’m proud of them.

Oliver: It’s got to be the best feeling ever.

Yesenia: Yes. Now I have to get my daughter there.

Oliver: Yeah, now you keep them going. Keep them going. That’s absolutely right.

Yesenia: But, yes.

Oliver: And when this happened, was that when you were in real estate or was that in the restaurant days or when did?

Yesenia: It was both actually. It was in transition. It started with the restaurants and when I had the restaurant, but then when my youngest sister graduated, I was already in the real estate industry. So, it was a mix of both.

Oliver: And then you put the rest of them through off the real estate thing?

Yesenia: Yes.

Oliver: Very impressive. Tell me about your road to becoming a top producer? Doing more deals, how did that come to be? And what would you say is the secret to your success or what has gotten you there?

Yesenia: Well, I have to give the credit to, also my husband, okay, because it’s not just all me.

Oliver: Shout out to Billy, wherever he’s at.

Yesenia: Yes.

Oliver: What’s up Billy?

Yesenia: Hi. When I move from actually Temecula, because I have lived in Temecula for a few years, and moved back here, I was a solo agent all the time. And I was doing pretty good by myself, but then I had to come to San Diego and then most of my clients were in Temecula because that’s where I built my real estate career. And coming here, when I met Billy, he offered me an opportunity to join his team and I took that opportunity because I knew he was a really good, good listing agent. I was really at buyers, but he was really good at listing and I wanted to be able to also learn the listing process and also be able to start… For me, it was I needed to start all over. I didn’t know any agents here, I didn’t know any people in San Diego that knew me, that I was doing real estate. So, I have my clients in Temecula. So, I joined his team and I said, “Okay, well there is.

Oliver: And this was in San Diego now?

Yesenia: It was in San Diego, when I moved, yes, from Temecula to San Diego.

Oliver: So again, another gutsy decision going from a market where you had established yourself into a brand new market where you didn’t know anybody, for the most part.

Yesenia: Yes.

Oliver: Okay.

Yesenia: And that’s to be close to my family because most of my family was here and my daughter was still nine, 10 years old when I moved back here. So, I wanted her to be able to spend time with my family and her dad’s family. And so, I said, “Billy, okay, I’d love to join your team. But I know that I’m going to have to get a pay cut for a little bit, but I’m willing to learn the process of listing homes, so I need you to teach me.”

Oliver: Again, back to learning.

Yesenia: Again, yes, back to learning.

Oliver: It always ties back to learning and getting better. I love that.

Yesenia: Yes, yes. And that’s how we both started. So, I think he saw a potential, something opportunity because then later he offered me, “Okay, we don’t we team up? We open a corporation and we’re partners.” And I’m like, “Okay, that doesn’t sound too bad because you’re good at listing homes and”.

Oliver: And how long after when you’d moved down was that? Where you became a partner?

Yesenia: Probably about a year after we were working together. Yeah, probably a year, a year and a half after that.

Oliver: And then you ended up getting married.

Yesenia: And then we ended up getting married after being business partners, yes.

Oliver: That’s very impressive. Most business partners want to tear each other’s hairs out.

Yesenia: Sometimes we do too.

Oliver: Yeah. No, I’m sure, I’m sure. Good for you, Billy. Sneaky, sneaky. Looking back on your journey, what you would say is the biggest lesson that you learned?

Yesenia: I think it’s this, one of the biggest lessons is don’t be afraid. It doesn’t matter where you are in life, doesn’t matter. Because I had my ups and I had my downs. It hasn’t been like a smooth ride, but I know that if you have faith in your heart and you take actions, it’s just going to happen. I’ve had losses. I mean, back when the market crashed in 2007, I mean, I had a few properties with a partner, and we lost everything. And we just know that, take action. Don’t stay there. I told Billy, “You know what? I don’t focus on that, on the negative. I know that I lost, but I know that I can do it one more time. It doesn’t matter.”

Oliver: You did it once, so you can do it again.

Yesenia: Right. So, that’s my biggest lesson. I don’t think that… I’m not afraid of basically losing everything over again and starting all over.

Oliver: Which is a very freeing feeling, I’m sure.

Yesenia: Yes.

Oliver: And when you look back, what do you think the biggest challenge was?

Yesenia: When I look back and I still feel like it’s one of my biggest challenges, I think it is the fact that sometimes I don’t feel that I speak English the way I’m supposed to sometimes. I guess it’s behind my mind because there’s words that I can’t pronounce. There’s words that sometimes I don’t know what they’re saying. So, I’m still learning that, so I’m still reading books and going to Toastmasters and improving myself better.

Oliver: And just learning, learning, learning, yeah.

Yesenia: Yes, because I’m not done yet, so.

Oliver: Yeah, my dad’s the same way. He’s been here, I think, 40 something years and he’s from Germany and he still has a very thick German accent and has all the words that he can’t pronounce. Ask him to pronounce photosynthesis and it’s like the funniest thing you’ve ever heard but-

Yesenia: But it’s all in my mind. I know that it’s in my mind but get rid of it. Sometimes I’m like, “Okay, I know this is just me. People may not think of anything. People will be okay with it.”

Oliver: Totally.

Yesenia: I just have to remind myself of that all the time.

Oliver: Yeah. And I think, at least to a certain extent, I think people are excited when they hear people with accents. Or at least I am, I think it’s cool when people come here, want to learn the language, want to get in the game, want to do all the things that you’ve done, which are just keep leveling up, you keep learning, you never stop, you’re always growing and that’s very impressive.

Yesenia: I think it’s more acceptable nowadays, but I think 20 years ago, maybe 25 years ago, it wasn’t so much. I don’t know, that was my feeling.

Oliver: And then, what do you do to overcome that?

Yesenia: One of the things that gives me… keeps me focused, is reading. I can’t go to sleep and I have to go and read a book and that just changes my mindset. I love to read motivational book and I didn’t have anybody growing up to look after, so books was my thing-

Oliver: Your mentor.

Yesenia: Yes, books were my mentor. So that was…

Oliver: What’s your favorite book?

Yesenia: Right now, I’m reading the Power of Focus. So, it’s really, really good but one of my favorite books that I love and I go back to it is with Louise Hay is You Can Heal Your Life.

Oliver: I don’t know that one, but I’ll definitely check that out.

Michelle: One of my favorites.

Oliver: We got to make a note. Michelle’s saying it’s one of her favorites.

Yesenia: It is a really good book.

Oliver: Okay, cool.

Yesenia: It’s all about mindset. It’s nothing to do with business, but when you’re centered, when you’re happy with yourself, and you can just attract more of that.

Oliver: Makes sense. Now, you’re a company owner, you started WeLease.

Yesenia: Yes, now we’ve started WeLease, which is a property management company, who I actually have always been in back of my mind to build a property management company. I want to be able to manage other people’s assets, as well as my own assets and what a better way to own a property management company.

Oliver: And you’re just so clearly passionate about real estate. I mean, you love what you do and it shows.

Yesenia: I do.

Oliver: So, branching out of that, I think, makes total sense for you. What are you most excited about with the next chapter?

Yesenia: Growing the property management company, that’s really exciting to me because… and also, acquiring of properties. So, I’m really focused on the investment side of the real estate market, not just on the sales side. I want to transition from being a sales agent to being an investor, a 100% investor.

Oliver: Own as many as you can.

Yesenia: Own as many as you can, help people on properties because I do believe that real estate is a way to build wealth and create a legacy for your family. So, I’m really passionate about creating a legacy. I’m probably going to be the first one in my family who can actually probably say that I’m probably going to leave something behind for my kids.

Oliver: For the next generation.

Yesenia: For the next generation. I want it to be meaningful. I want it to make sure that my life here was… meant something for someone and whether my daughter, obviously, our kids, Evan, Ariana, and our kids. So that one day, they can say, “Well you know what, yeah, we’re here because of these people working really hard.”

Oliver: Well, congratulations! I think everything that you’ve done and everything that you’ve gone through and the journey that you’ve been on is just incredible. I think as an entrepreneur to another entrepreneur, I’m just very impressed and amazed at all the things that you’ve overcome in your life. And I just want to wrap on this note and that’s if you could go back and talk to the little girl on the streets in Mexico, what are you saying to her?

Yesenia: I’m proud of her. I’m proud of what she accomplished so far. We’re not done, but I think that I will tell her that we’re here and we’re safe and we’re enjoying life and it’s awesome.

Oliver: And what’s the advice that you would give to someone in that similar position? That maybe feels down and out or maybe feels like they can’t do it or maybe feels like the obstacles are too big, what would you say to that person?

Yesenia: I would say take action. A vocation is very important. A vocation can give you the opportunity to open some other doors. And put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to go and network with other people who you think that they’re not going to see me or like me. I always wanted to put myself in a different circle environment because I want to learn from these people, how did they got there? How do they do it? Just don’t be afraid and just do it.

With technology today, there’s meetups. If you’re really into investment and real estate, there’s so many investors groups that you can go to and just meet people and talk to them. People will actually… are willing to help. That was my experience and I know that if I see someone and I said, “Okay, I have a question. Or how can assist me.” I don’t know. Just for me, that has worked. Just don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

Oliver: Yeah and don’t let anything stop you. I think that’s been the most impressive part of your journey is all these things that could have stopped people, you pushed through them, and you did it in your own way, and you did it with style, and it’s very impressive, so.

Yesenia: I definitely put myself in situations that maybe a lot of people don’t put themself to. I’m the only Hispanic, as well, in this meetup group. I mean, it’s not a meetup, it’s the Toastmaster group, which is I want to learn how to speak in public without saying…

Oliver: And looking like a pro.

Yesenia: And look, yes. So, and I’m the only Hispanic. And I actually, we go to the networking events, the property management actually events that we go to, you will see very few people who are Hispanic. We’re just not putting ourselves out there and we were… I was telling Billy the other day, we went to the National Conference for Property Managers and there was really not a lot of Hispanic. You see every other, I don’t want to say race, but every other-

Michelle: Ethnicity.

Yesenia: Ethnicity there, but not really a lot of Hispanics. So for me, I think that we need to put ourselves out there. We have to stop being afraid and it’s fine.

Oliver: And don’t let anything stop you.

Yesenia: And don’t let anything stop you. That’s right.

Oliver: I love it. Thank you so much for coming on. It’s a very impressive story. It really is the American dream. You are the American dream.

Yesenia: I do think it is the American dream. I’ve actually… My first house was in San Diego, really in the Logan area, which is one of the, we’ll say, less attractive neighborhoods in San Diego, which is coming up actually, it’s nice now so that’s good.

Oliver: It’s coming around now.

Yesenia: Right. Now from living in another area, which I love my area where I live and I do feel like I’m living the American dream because I love where I live, I love my house, and I love our family, and I just, yeah.

Oliver: Cheers to that.

Yesenia: Know where I am right now.

Oliver: And congratulations on everything. It’s really awesome.

Yesenia: Thank you. Thank you, Oliver, I appreciate it.

Oliver: And to your husband, Billy.

Oliver: Now you’re in the know.

Yesenia: You’re in the know.

Pullout Quotes:

“My mom had ten kids, and I was the middle child. We didn’t have anything, but we had everything. We had love.”

“I didn’t know any English, and I didn’t know anybody here. Moving from a tiny little town to San Diego … I was blown away by so many cars and how big it was. How am I going to survive here?”

“I always think about what’s next for me. I don’t like to feel stagnant. If I’m not learning, I worry.”

“In my sphere of influence no one really spoke English … so, I said, ‘Okay, I need to move myself to a different circle where I can force myself to speak English.’”

“It was the right time for me to leave the restaurant business and focus on a career that would allow me to be a little more present with my daughter.” 

“My mindset is, things will always work out. If I word hard enough, if I make the right decisions, things are going to work out.”

“Don’t be afraid. I know that if you have faith and you work hard and you take action, it’s just going to happen.”

“Books were my mentor.”

“When you’re centered, when you’re happy with yourself, you can just attract more of that.”

“I do believe that real estate is a way to build wealth and create a legacy for your family.”

“I want to make sure that my life here was meaningful.”


Connect with Yesenia

Connect with Oliver

Other episodes of Founders Club you might like:

From Microsoft Employee to Closing 30 Deal Per Month ft Mark Pattinson

Cory Boatright – How to Make Big Profits Wholesaling Real Estate

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