DTC POD Mikey Taylor - DTC Pod Interview
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What's up, DTC Pod? Today we're really excited to have on Mikey Taylor. Mikey, I don't even know where to start. You've done so much. You've been everything from a professional skateboarder to you know, having your own fun, to real estate, to even being in politics. So I didn't even know really where to start this interview, but I guess we'll kick it off. I'll give you the mic.
Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and what you're up to.
Okay. Background. I started, my first career as a pro skateboarder, it just was a passion that turned into a profession, which was amazing. The challenge with that, I had to figure out what I was going to do after skateboarding. And so my original plan was basically to live like I was broke and save as much money as I could to invest into stocks and bonds and real estate. And then halfway through my career, I started my first business in the craft beer space. It was a brewery called St. Archer.
And we did really well with that. We became the fastest growing brewery in California, or one of. And then we sold our business to Miller Coors in 2015. And then from there, I started my current business, which is Commune Capital. We're a private equity real estate firm. We focus on multifamily and storage. And then recently, last year, I decided to run for city council in my neighborhood.
It's about 125,000 residents. So this is my first full how would you say it? My first what would be the right word? This is my first time ever even thinking about getting involved in local politics. And so it's been interesting, it's been fun. It's been kind of all of the above.
Ramon Berrios 00:04:09 - 00:05:00
Yeah. I mean, you're used like to getting comfortable and being uncomfortable, though, growing up with skateboarding, that's basically what you do, what you did. I want to take a step back to your career with skateboarding, specifically. One of the things I find the most interesting is how back in the days, that was like the OG influencer, where the brands were getting the sort of arbitrage sponsoring these skaters. And I mean, they were paying some of them five grand, and nowadays a creator is charging five grand for a single post. So I feel like that was the original era of influencers. And then the skaters realize, and now they're starting their own brands themselves. And you have a bunch of skateboarders who like Tori Pudwill and a bunch of other people having their own brands.
Ramon Berrios 00:05:00 - 00:05:07
How was it like in that era to just work the dynamics of sponsorships and work with those brands?
It was. I mean part of it was fun. Right? You had to learn how to negotiate, and you were trying to do it's actually a very good analogy you used. You had to do what a lot of creators are attempting to do now, which is how do I not just do these one off brand deals? Like, how do I get a longer term contract? And you know that was basically all we had as an option. All you had was long term contracts. So we just didn't have the short term stuff, which meant we didn't have the pop in revenue, but we had, I guess you could call it a little bit of security. Yeah. That's fascinating. I've never thought of it that way, that skaters kind of got their feet wet with what influencers feel like now, but there was a handful of things that cross over.
You wanted to align with brands that made you more valuable or were respectable. You wanted as long of a contract as possible if you felt like your career was getting closer to an end. And if you were hot and going vertical, you wanted a shorter term deal so that you could negotiate more on the back end or when it was over. So there actually is a lot of crossover.
Ramon Berrios 00:06:21 - 00:06:39
Yeah, there was this flipping where creators started just starting their skaters started their own brands. Right. Was this like the power of just content building an audience and then the social media platforms and having an audience? Or was it just more dynamics of the skaters themselves?
You know what, to tell you the truth, there's still not enough skaters starting businesses as they're really even close to could be. When I was young, there was a handful of them. You had, like Jamie Thomas. You had Andrew Reynolds. You had Mike Carroll and Rick Howard, danny Way and Colin. Like, you did have people that were starting businesses. And how I looked at that as a kid was, oh my gosh, if you own the company, then you could be here forever. Like, there's no company that's going to kick you off because you own the entity.
So that's kind of how I originally looked at it. I think social media is in a lot of ways, made it easier for you to build an audience and know what the audience is worth. But I don't think a lot of skaters have really wrapped their head around how to fully take advantage of that opportunity. Skaters still today, by and large, are just trying to do sponsorship deals. Most of them aren't opening up their influence to make money in alternative ways. Most of them still don't start businesses. So I don't know if that's because skating is more creative. And it's rare to have a full creative that wants to build a business when their true passion is skateboarding.
I'm not sure, but there's still a big challenge happening in the skating industry. They haven't figured it out yet.
Ramon Berrios 00:08:03 - 00:08:24
I mean, there's also the stigma of too cool to start a business. I mean, even more prevalent back then than now. It's same in the surfing community. How did that happen for like, when did you start shifting gears into just having the more business mindset? And what was the first array into, I guess St. Archer from skateboarding?
Well, I actually always was attracted to the skaters who own businesses. Like, Jamie Thomas was a big one for like, I remember growing up as a kid watching him and he would be in the videos filming the other pros. And I had never even thought that a pro skateboarder would also film everybody. Right? And then I found out that he was really involved in editing the movies. And then I found out he owned, the companies he rode for, and every layer to him that was added on top of it, I thought he was cooler and cooler. So I think from the beginning, I was naturally attracted to that type of skater touching on the cool part of it. The first business I started was beer. Like, beer is inherently cool, so I didn't really have to worry about starting a business that wasn't perceived as good.
I think that made us even cooler. Starting my current business was probably more of where you were alluding to which most skaters don't talk about money, they don't talk about investing. That is a side that is not cool. And so I think I experienced more of a backlash starting my current business than when I started the first one in 2012.
So, Mikey, when you were starting that first one in 2012, right, beer is cool. You decide you want to start the brand. Why don't you walk us through it? What was it like getting the brand off the ground? And why beer? How did you get started and what was that journey like?
Yeah, so the why beer, I was with a friend, and we were talking about all action sports, right? We talked about surfing, skating, snowboarding, and we were talking about the new companies that are always coming up in our industries being very similar to one another, right? It just so happens that it's always a clothing brand or a shoe brand or a hat brand. It was always a similar kind of, I don't know, lane. And so we just got stuck on this conversation of what it would be like to introduce something like a never been done to our space. Like, what could we create where everyone would go, oh, my gosh, this is insane. I never thought of doing that? And that conversation basically led to Beer, who would become my partner basically throughout there. Like, what if we did beer? How insane would it be if we dropped a craft brewery on the skateboarding community? And as he said it, I looked at him, I went, that would be out of control. I was tripping on it. As he said it, I'm tripping.
And so I'm going, Dude, if we were to do this, I think we would get such wide support in the skate community. And my partner, he was from the surf industry. He's like, Dude, we would get the same support from surf. And then we had friends that were snowboarders. They said the same thing. We had friends that were musicians. Everyone was like, do this. And so that was kind of where we came up with the idea.
We didn't have enough money to start the company ourselves, so we had to basically get help on how to start a business plan. We had to go out, raise money. We had to build a team. We had to basically learn as we went in real time, which was insane, but also really fun.
And when you were doing that, I'm curious about how you were building the team. Who were you bringing on to do it? Where were you going to find capital and talk to me about the early stages of execution at the brand level?
Okay, so when you start a team with no experience, basically what happens is you start talking to your friends and family and people you know about what you want to do, right? And somebody is eventually going to say, oh, I've got a guy in that space. Oh, I know somebody who brews beer. And so our original team was basically built that way. I have a friend that designs. I have a friend who brews beer. I have a friend who's head of sales at this brewery. And so we kind of built the team that way. Other than our CFO, the CFO was a little bit of a unique story.
We had the team that we are presenting. We had the business plan. We were out there raising money from basically friends, family, anyone that our network would connect us to. We were speaking to everybody, and we ended up talking to these two guys that were pretty sophisticated and they basically ripped apart our plan. And one thing that they really pressed on was who was going to manage the money. And we kind of brought in a friend of ours that was more of like a bookkeeper. And they were like, there's no way you guys are raising money running a business with a bookkeeper. You have to have a CFO with X amount of experience, et cetera, et cetera.
But they loved our idea. They really liked our idea. So they were like, actually, I'm going to connect you with somebody we know. He's the CFO. Like Sony Music Group or something like that. And then he was the only one that came on to start the company with us that was heavily decorated with experience. And then we started it. And throughout that year, we had to make changes as we started learning about what we were doing, as we started learning about the space, we had to move people around.
And some people kind of we had to let go of during those early years. That's just kind of what you go through as you're trying to start something.
Ramon Berrios 00:13:42 - 00:14:17
The interesting thing is the CFO is the one role where the person there's no such thing as too much experience for the role. Because if you're early, you get a guy who was a CMO, and then he needs a team of like five to ten people can easily blow your budget when the fact that you guys went to market in a different way and ended up winning, it's because ignorance is bliss as well. So I'm curious, what were some of the things when you guys were getting started that you just did unconventionally and you're like, holy shit, I guess that worked because we didn't know what the normal way was.
That's such a good question. That's a phenomenal question. I would say the two that stand out actually, I'm going to tell you the one, because it's going to resonate with what you guys do. So when we were raising money, we were raising money right around 2011, beginning of twelve, and we were looking at where we were going to allocate all the dollars and we were looking at our marketing budget. And at that time, every dollar was valuable because we didn't have a ton of money to just blow. And so we were looking at our marketing budget and my partner looked at me and goes, dude, what if we cut back on the marketing budget and let's just post this stuff on Instagram? And remember, this is 2011 twelve. There's no ambassadors, there's no influencers, there's no social media marketing, right? And he goes, what if we take our investors and move them to ambassadors? And then we build all of this content, mini documentaries on all of our ambassadors and tell their story of their view of California through their lens. And the whole thing will be launched on Instagram.
We won't have to spend the 75 grand we have allocated, whatever it was. And at that time, I didn't know how valuable Instagram was, but I was like, Dang, it would save 75 grand, let's do it. So we started doing that, and when we did it that way, we didn't promote the beer at all. The only mention of beer was presented by St Archer. And then everything else was the person. Right? And when we did that, the other breweries were clowning us like crazy. These guys, this isn't even a real brewery. They don't even know beer.
This is a gimmick. They're all about marketing. And it ended up completely disrupting the space. And it was only a year and a half later where you started seeing every other brand in the space pivot their marketing. So that was one where we were just like, yeah, let's just try this. I don't know how this would be like, no one does it, let's just try it. And then it ended up being huge for us. I think it was maybe the largest reason that put us in the position of the growth we had and then ultimately the exit we had.
Ramon Berrios 00:16:26 - 00:16:31
I love that. Did you guys sell retail as well, or was it just a brewery?
So we were in bars and then we were in grocery stores as well. And then we were in some stadium. We got in Dodger Stadium. That was like a massive one for us.
Ramon Berrios 00:16:42 - 00:16:47
What was a roller coaster like all the way to the acquisition? How long this run lasted?
So it was about three and a half years.
Ramon Berrios 00:16:50 - 00:16:51
That was fast.
Very fast. We did not expect that to happen that quick. It was a roller coaster from the second we started till we finished up until the last month of the deal closing. For anyone who hasn't started a business yet, just know that it basically feels like that always. Even now, I've started since then, eight different businesses. I still feel that today. Yesterday, I feel like we're crushing the world. And then today, I'm like, panicking.
Business is an emotional roller coaster by nature. It's just hard. And back then, we had no experience, so we didn't know that was natural. So one quarter, we're like, Dude, we're on top of the world. We just opened up this distribution. We're making these waves, we're getting all this press, and then the next quarter, we're like, we're running out of money. We're going to go out of business. That's how it was.
Ramon Berrios 00:17:43 - 00:18:10
Yeah. So speaking of the roller coaster, one thing I want to dive into is like, you're an absolute content machine. And I remember you, I would DM you, like, five plus years ago, responsive. I'm like, Mikey now has an audience like ten X, if not more, the size of when I used to DM him. I DM you you responded. You're active. You're active on X, on Instagram, on TikTok. You even have a text group in community.
Ramon Berrios 00:18:11 - 00:18:29
And so not every day feels like, oh, today is a great day to make content. When you're that consistent, you probably make content every single day. And so I just want to hear more about what is your content workflow? Like, how do you become a content machine like that?
Yeah, it's a really good question. And remind me to talk to you about this because I would love to get your perspective on this as well, because there's something that I'm mentally working through also. So basically my flow of content or how I go about it. Mondays are I am dark. I come into the office and my assistant knows there is zero schedule in me. On Mondays, no one can get a hold of me. I am locked in the office or wherever I'm going to be working. And that day is meant for basically concepts and copy.
So on Monday, what I attempt to do is come up with ten to twelve different concepts and then write them out so I have all the copy. Tuesday is a full blown work day for me. It's meetings. If we're looking at deals, that's going to be the actual business is going to be Tuesday. Wednesday, I am filming all day. So that is start to finish. I'm in front of the camera. And then Thursday, Friday are normal business activities, raising money, working on concepts.
We're doing more of a traditional approach to business, and that allows me to basically have content that comes out daily, where Monday through Sunday I can be posting something.
Ramon Berrios 00:19:48 - 00:20:10
But even for that Monday, where you create the concepts that's been refined over years, the first time you sat down to conceptualize, it's like, it probably took you all day, and now you're like, oh, this is how I brainstorm. This is how I come up with concepts. How have you refined that process of conceptualizing?
That's a good question. We're going to go through my whole marketing approach right now. So I'm going through a split right now where I want about 60% of my content, 60% to 70% of my content to be around investing or business. And then I want about 20% to actually be more about my real life family. Kind of the other aspects of my life that I enjoy that I think should be highlighted. And then the other 10% is more just my personality, right. Doing more behind the scenes with the office. Kind of just how I communicate and work with other people.
That's kind of my breakdown. And so on the 60%, 70% of business stuff, there's kind of two, I would say, buckets that I grab inspiration from. One, I'm making notes of everything that happened throughout the week. For me, if somebody calls me and asks me a question, if we're working on something and I realize, holy crap, that's an issue, I'm making notes of it so that that next week. I can basically create a concept around that problem. If it's just a question that my parents ask me, like, Mike, what the heck do I do? Do I pull cash out right now on our home? Do we do a heat lock right now to do a kitchen renovation? Oh, actually, this is why I would or wouldn't do it. And then I just write it down in my notes, build a piece around it, and then the other thing I try to do is take relevant news. That one is the only part of this that really throws off my schedule.
Because sometimes something happens and there's a lot of energy around it and you want to jump on it quick so that your video can ride. The engagement happening at the moment. That's the only part where I'll do. Javier becoming the new president, Argentina, that wasn't part of my copy from last week. I saw and went up. He wants to pull the peso and jump on the dollar. Everyone's talking about this. I should do a video on it.
Ramon Berrios 00:22:13 - 00:22:32
I mean, the fact that you take Mondays for this just shows how important content creation is for your business. And it's crazy how early we still are on founders and businesses taking content as their number one priority. So when did that change? Why do you take content so seriously?
Okay, so it really started after we sold the brewery. Like, going into starting the brewery, not realizing how valuable social media was, and then selling the business for what we sold it for. That is when I went, oh, my gosh, I have a machine behind me that I'm not even sure what the true value is. But whatever I think it is, I'm undervaluing it at that point. That's when I went all in on content. But here's the funny part. There's levels to it, right? Like about eight months ago, my partner and I went out to Florida. We have a handful of investors out there.
So we went out to see some investors. We had a conference we were going to, and we ended up meeting up with Patrick Bett. David. Are you guys familiar with him?
Okay, yeah, of course.
So we meet up with Patrick, and this is right when he was about to complete his new studio for Valuetainment. He goes, I'm going to run you guys by the studio, right? I'm like, all right, let's do it. So we're checking out the studio. We're getting just basically everything that they're doing. We go out, have lunch at his house afterward, and then we ended up flying home the next day. And as I'm walking through his studio, what I'm feeling inside is, oh my gosh, we're not even competitive. It's almost like if you were like a hometown hero or like an amateur, and then all of a sudden you stepped into the big leagues and your first night you went, I am not prepared to be here. That's what it felt like inside, right? And so I'm like thinking about this all night.
I get on the flight and right when we take off, my partner looks at me and goes, dude, we're getting smashed out here. We need to forex your content. We need to figure out how to forex what you're doing. And I went, oh my gosh, I'm so glad you said that because I was feeling that inside. So the next day, I basically called my assistant in here, michael, our COO, came in here and we redid my entire calendar. We changed all the priorities up. We got very disciplined on time management, and basically I created a wall in front of me that I didn't have before, where if people wanted to reach out, yeah, connect, connect. Now.
This is what I'm doing on these days. This is what I'm not. And it's very rare that somebody goes direct to me now. Now everybody goes to Tawny, and Tawny has basically lanes in, which will create an open door or a closed door. Right? Why do you want to connect with Mikey? What's the purpose? What's the potential outcome? And if those answers don't align with what we're currently focused on, then that's where it ends for the time being. And that is what's allowed me to be able to really ramp up what I'm doing on a content standpoint.
Ramon Berrios 00:25:45 - 00:26:30
You know, I really resonate with that because one time so Grant Cardone invited me to his office when he heard my story as a testimonial for the TEDx. And when I went in there, his operation for making content, the energy in there and how many people were just there, he had like four different studios going on at the same time. And this was probably like six years ago or so. And so it just takes a lot of time into I mean, there's so many different facets of content. So, like you mentioned, Tawny now handles your inbound, et cetera. How many people are helping you in terms of the content pillars themselves? Is it just you? And like, the content creation is one man show.
Really good question. So we have, let's see, one, two, three it's about four people total that help. One is filmer and editor. One is kind of management of all of the process. Tawny is not technically on the content. Like, we refer to her as the she. She basically has control of the schedule that we create together because we kind of talked about the beginning or you alluded to it. When you're doing a lot of things, you can't waste time in that process.
Right. That's what limits you from getting the things done when you have a full plate. And so in that it's like every quarter, we basically set my schedule and then she's the one that basically holds me accountable to it. I think that's the only way to do it. I'm not sure how do you do it any other way?
Ramon Berrios 00:27:29 - 00:28:17
Yeah, one other thing is like, the monetization side of the content is like what I think you've mastered in the sense that you have found opportunities through the network and the people you've met through your audience and then monetize it in nonlinear, obvious ways. Whereas a lot of creators think that sponsorships are the main form of revenue and it's like you don't know who you could meet, who could then start a business with you, and then with that audience becomes your customers and then you exit that business rather than being so focused on selling a post or selling sponsorships. So what advice do you have for people who are making content in terms of thinking long term about the monetization angle or how to leverage the network or community the most?
Yeah, I think you have to look at it really through the same lens that we look at investments, or even for someone who's not a creator. There's two buckets. You have cash flow and then you have appreciation. Right. You have your income and you have your wealth build. The same thing applies for creators. Like if you're going to do things like monetize your platform by starting a business. Or finding partnerships that will lead into something else that's back end activity, right, that's long term.
And typically, if you're saying no to being paid now so that you can be paid on the back end, you're going to make more. Right? But all of us need cash flow to sustain on the front end. So you're playing this balance of what deals can I do to have revenue coming in to support myself? And then how can I be making moves to have ownership in some of the brands I'm marketing or create my own company? So that two, three, four years from now. Oh, now I'm watching my net worth skyrocket, right? So it's just the front end, back end balance.
And Mikey, the last question I had on content was in terms of channels, right? So I know a lot of creators are thinking a lot about where do I create content is just Instagram, how do I keep up with Instagram, YouTube, et cetera. Obviously, you're a machine. You have a team with you. But where does content resonate the most for you? What channels do you see performing the best, and how do you think about continuing to grow content on those channels?
Before I answer this, I just want to tell you guys the questions you ask. I can tell how much value you provide to your audience. Insane. Like, very well done, boys. Okay, so for me, I'll just let you guys in behind the curtain. I build everything with TikTok in mind. So when I'm creating content, I'm thinking of TikTok first, more or less, because it has the truest algorithm to show you if your content is good without audience bias. Right? And so I like putting it there to see how it's going to perform.
Then from there, I take it and put it on Instagram reels. I put it on YouTube shorts, I put it on Twitter, I put it on LinkedIn, even though I'm not as consistent on that one. And I'm trying to get one piece to go everywhere. But TikTok is my filter at the top. The challenge that I have that's a little bit unique to me is I started building my brand as a pro skateboarder on all of these platforms first, and then I did basically a full 180 of the content I put out now. And it took a very long time transitioning the platforms for people to be with me now versus where they were seven years ago. Instagram, I have pretty much fully transitioned. TikTok happened after, so I got to start fresh.
YouTube, I have not fully transitioned. And X, I'm just getting my feet wet now. I'm trying to transition it now. So on X and YouTube, they do not perform as well for me because I still have a big bulk of an audience that doesn't want to see the content I'm creating. But TikTok and then Instagram lately, Instagram's, like, it's flying now.
Ramon Berrios 00:31:36 - 00:31:48
I mean, that golf content is so good, where you're just like hitting balls talking about financial advice. I'll forward it, I'll send it to my girlfriend, and she's like, is he just like hitting balls talking about financial advice?
It's ridiculous, but it's interesting. If you would have told me two years ago, I would have told you I could care less about instagram. I'm all in on TikTok. If you were to ask me today, instagram is more valuable to me than TikTok, even though I test on TikTok first. Instagram, because of the competitive nature of the market, has had to figure out how to get your content out to the masses. So you're finally getting engagement up. Your following is finally growing. And then from a sales standpoint, you can convert way more people on instagram than you can TikTok.
Ramon Berrios 00:32:19 - 00:32:47
What's interesting is how you've leveraged this to the capital market. So let's talk about commune capital. And you still use the socials. You think that now if you started another consumer brand, it'd be easier this time around because now you've mastered the social platforms. But commune capital isn't something that would be obvious to people that you would use social in community as a leverage point. So what is commune capital today?
Okay, so the technical term is we're a private equity real estate firm. What that really means is we go out and find real estate investments that people can participate in passively. So if you guys were both like, look, I want to own real estate, but I don't want to do it, I don't want to find the project, I don't want to get the financing, I don't want to manage it, but I want money invested into it. You would find a group like ours to invest in where we do all the work, and then when done right, we pay our return out to the investors, and then our business gets to take a percentage of the profits in that. That's basically, by and large, how it works. Now, when you have a company like this, you're always, if you have opportunity, raising capital, right? And so one thing that I wanted to do early on is I wanted to raise money on social media. I didn't want to do what we did with saint archer, which was have a coffee, have a dinner, talk on the phone, because it felt very limited to the amount of people I could get in front of. Even when we launched commune, the very first project that we did with commune, we raised money the old school way.
I was for two and a half months speaking to eight people a day, and it was like, coffee, coffee, lunch, coffee, coffee, dinner, coffee, home. And I remember feeling so burnt out. I was like, there has to be a better way. This is insane that I'm still driving around meeting people, seeing if they want to invest with me. What am I doing? But I didn't have proof of concept yet on social media, and we had a deadline on when we needed to raise capital for but I remember going, I don't want to do that again. I want the money to come from social because I could create a piece. That piece can be seen by 100,000 people that would then resulted to potentially even if it's 120 people that I'm now speaking to, just the numbers don't compare. So I started doing that early on.
People thought we were crazy. We started going heavy on TikTok, people thought we were extra crazy. And now about 80% of our capital stack comes from social media.
Yeah, that's really incredible. And I think it's like the same lesson that you had even told about when you're starting Archer, right. You identified something different and you're saying there's something here. What are our skill sets that are different from what everyone else is doing? And let's go in on that. And just like you're saying, having to go coffee to coffee to coffee to raise capital, if it doesn't make sense, you kind of flip the model on its head and that's where the Arbitrage is and then everyone else has to follow. So why don't you talk us through the launch of the fund, some of the projects that you've done and what is the growth and what's it been like growing commune?
Okay, some of the early projects actually, you know what's interesting, because I just talked about this yesterday, so I'll mention it. When we first started the business, we were building out our multifamily portfolio and in 2016, what I thought was the big opportunity was all of these big malls throughout America basically going vacant. And I thought the opportunity was going to be buy these things at discount because they're basically on their deathbed, scrape them and build apartments. Or at that time I really kind of saw the trend heading towards mixed use, right. Retail below, living above, and like a true community type of area where you don't have to go anywhere if you don't want. And so that was the beginning focus, really. We bought a mall in Ohio, right outside of Cleveland, and it was going to be a huge project. So we went through kind of entitling it and right when we got to the point of being able to build, we ended up selling the project.
So we did pretty well with that. A big reason why we well, we sold it because it was going to be a great return. But what we also saw was a change in the opportunity. I really started seeing what was happening in California with the housing crisis that was basically being built up. Right. We had years of investors going, I'm not investing in California, why would I invest there? Red tape regulation, taxes are through the roof. Like, this sounds insane to do so. And so you had a lot of people leaving the state and then really 2020 intensified it.
And what that did was it created a housing shortage of about 2 million units in our state. And so that's really what I started seeing the new opportunity as, finding these cities that are severely undersupplied and building housing there, knowing that all of my competition is trying to buy in Texas and pick a Midwest state. That's where everyone is. And so we kind of moved the strategy towards a very hyper focused California. And so that's kind of where we are right now. Our heads are down, our foot's on the gas, and truth be told, we can't raise money fast enough for all the opportunity that's in front of us. It's a very unique window that we're in that I don't know how long it's going to last, but I'm acting as if it's not going to be here for much longer.
And I think that's another really important thing is being able to pivot when you see market conditions change, right, and understand where the opportunity is to go after. So in your case, it was saying, hey, we got a good opportunity on this mall, but I see this opportunity. Let's kind of pivot the strategy a little bit. And what are you seeing from the real estate markets in California now? How are things looking?
I'm going to answer, but I want to touch on that because it's actually a really important point. You're right. How should I say this the correct way? Okay, you are correct. But the one thing that you really want to be mindful of is you can pivot on opportunity, but you need to be careful with doing too radical of a pivot, right. For us and for the real life example, we are in multifamily. We understand multifamily. So what we did was we changed really the location of what we saw as the opportunity, but we didn't pivot the asset class. We weren't multifamily.
Oh my gosh, everybody's at mobile homes. We're now doing mobile homes, right. That is actually a challenge that a lot of people have. They chase the new trend or they chase the shiny object instead of hunkering down on one specific thing. Once you're in that specific thing, then you are absolutely correct. You might have to move and tweak things as new opportunity presents itself. What we're seeing in California specifically, this is an interesting one. The state is trying to make it easier to build real estate here, and it is still insanely difficult to do so.
And it is still harder to do business in probably any other state other than maybe New York. And so you have a lot of investors on the sidelines because they don't want to invest in California. You have a lot of investors on the sidelines because they can't get financing. Right now. You have a lot of people on pause. And the way we're taking it is when people are on pause and when people are scared, that's when you're able to come in and take market share. So we're trying to do the opposite of everyone else.
And I think that's a great segue into the stuff that you're doing in politics. Why don't you tell us a little bit about how that got started, where the interest came from, and yeah, walk.
Us through all of that. Okay, so I had zero interest being in politics my entire life. I never liked politics. I always had a distaste whenever somebody would talk about politics or even politicians, I didn't like them because they never felt real. They felt like salespeople that told you what you wanted to say and you never knew who they really were. That's kind of the opinion. I had. This idea for me to try to get involved with that mess happened right around 2019 or so when my wife wanted to start looking at other areas to live and for context.
The city that we live in is where we grew up. It's small town. I see people I went to school with today. This is what we know. And I didn't want to leave. So that basically conversation eventually evolved into me telling my wife, hey, babe, instead of us trying to find other places that might have something that we don't, why don't we try to be a part of the change and create the things that we don't have? And her response is, yeah, okay, how are you going to do that? And so I spent some time trying to think about what that would look like, and I landed on maybe I can get involved. And the one lane that I felt really I could be of value in was city council. Right? Like, city council, by and large, their responsibility is it's land use, it's real estate is a big component of it.
It's economics or your local economy. It's creating the policy ultimately on how the business of the city is run and then the experience is run. So I was like, okay, yeah, let's do that. It's local, it's nonpartisan. I don't have to mess with all the national issues. And so I went for it not knowing anything, tried to do it in the way I would launch a business, and it ended up working. And then I got elected, and I'm about to complete my first year.
What has that been like? What were some of the learnings? What were some of the things that you ran into that you were able to kind of move the needle on? What did you get in and learn and say, oh, this is way different than I thought it was going to be?
Okay, so the campaign was probably the most the campaign was the closest thing to running a business or entrepreneurship in the whole process. I had no clue what to do. You have to figure out how to get your name out to people and get them just to basically vote for you. So you could see the crossover with business or with entrepreneurship, things that I've learned once getting in. That's a good question. I used to get frustrated with how slow the government is. I at least now have an understanding on why it moves so slow. So maybe I'm a little bit more sympathetic to the speed in which it moves, because in theory, you don't want to break the government.
In a business, this happens all the time. Like, you make an error and you move too fast, and then you go away. I would say having to work with other people that have a different opinion of you and having to do that in a public setting, I'm actually learning a skill set that I didn't have prior. All of the negotiation I've ever done has been behind closed doors. I didn't have to worry about the way in which I said it. Now you're negotiating with people basically on the dais while the community is watching, and so you have to be a lot smoother with how you speak. And so I'm learning that, which I think is a huge benefit.
Ramon Berrios 00:44:03 - 00:44:57
That's a good point. I never thought about that. It's like, as founders in the remote world, I've never had a big office with my team there, so I'm not even used to having to necessarily be mindful of the environment around whenever you bring up something. So as we get towards the end here, Mikey, I feel like we've been jumping around so much, but there's no other way to cover the spectrum of things you do. One of the things that I think will really resonate with the audience is being a founder, you often are either pouring your entire net worth back into your business, or if you raise venture, it takes time to realize the liquidity, if you ever do, and you don't know when. And so, for example, Blaine and I live in a place like Miami. Rent is absolutely nuts here in Miami. And I was curious looking at North Carolina, because I'm like, an apartment here is like, four grand plus.
Ramon Berrios 00:44:57 - 00:45:14
I'm curious for you and for founders who are listening right now, is renting better than buying? And then what are the top upcoming cities at the moment to where you're like, you know what? Maybe I should just get out for a bit and then maybe come back in the future.
Yeah, really?
Ramon Berrios 00:45:15 - 00:45:18
Maybe that's personal advice. Hopefully it applies.
It's a really good question. Now it's going to be specific to your business, right? Like, for you guys in the space you're in, and you kind of just nailed it in theory, you don't need a huge team in office that you're in front of every day. If that's the case, that makes it a lot easier for you, because in theory, you could go to North Carolina and your business doesn't suffer at all. Right. The thing that you want to think of when you ask the question, should you rent? Should you buy? If you're in the scenario, like a lot of us are we're building business, we have at least a view of where we're going to build our true wealth. You're not going to accomplish that comparison by buying a home. Buying a home, in my perspective, isn't really an investment at all. I think it's a forced savings account.
I think it gives you a lot of qualities beyond the money itself, and there's a lot of reasons to buy. But if you're stacking the price to rent and the price to own in a lot of markets, it makes more sense to rent than buy. Right now in a lot of markets now, if you're somebody that doesn't have a business, you're not doing activities that you view will build your wealth. And a home is really going to be that one factor that's going to force you to save for your retirement. And also homeownership keeps a lot of people out of poverty for that group. Try to buy whenever you can. Who cares if home ownership is more expensive than rent? If you can afford the home, buy the home. And so it really depends on who you are and what your goals are and what your situation is.
So I think what I'm hearing is, ramon, you should rent in Miami.
Ramon Berrios 00:47:06 - 00:47:12
We're neighbors. I'm open Fort Lauderdale. He wants me to go down to Miami Beach. I'm like, Dude, look at Zellow in North Carolina.
It's looking good. Yeah. There's things you want to think of, right? Like, there's cities that are blowing up. The Carolinas are probably the two obvious ones that are cranking. Arkansas, like, becoming cool. There's a lot of areas that are becoming cool. Right. Some of the things that I think of, you want to think of basically cost, what's the state tax? That actually does have an impact.
But more than anything, I want to be surrounded with people who are pushing the limits, pushing the needle. Right. Like, I don't want to be off in some remote cave in the middle of nowhere. I want to be where the energy is because for my personality, I do better when I'm pushed. When there's competition around me, that is when I'm at my best. And so I try to be in areas where I feel that pressure. If you're not like that, you're not ultra competitive and you're just looking at it from a cost standpoint. Yeah.
Find the cheapest place you can that's going to have the lowest cost of living and go live there.
Ramon Berrios 00:48:14 - 00:48:39
Yeah. The opportunity costs you can't measure, though. So, Mikey, as we wrap up, I have one last question, which, since you mentioned about your personality, one of my favorite quotes from you is, like, when you say that you're not the best, but you're really good at being obsessed, what does that mean? How can being so obsessed outlast being the best at something.
Okay? So for me, growing up, I had about seven friends who were skaters, and I wasn't anywhere close to the best. I had two friends in particular who were just spewing with talent, god given talent to skateboard. And for me, I always wanted to be as good as them. And so what I saw was I had an obsession with improving. And it was so easy for them. They just woke up and just did their thing. And what I found was both of them actually didn't even come close to the career that I had because the obsession is what creates the discipline, and the discipline is what creates the consistency. Right.
That, in my perspective, is way more valuable than when everything's just easy for you. I think Kobe Bryant is a perfect example of it. Kobe Bryant was not the best basketball player because he was talented. He was the best basketball player because he was obsessed. The obsession and the drive to get to as close to perfection as you can, that's what creates greatness. And so I just found a lot more value in that. Even though it's frustrating as hell, it drives me nuts that I'm this like, even when I was a kid, I was so frustrated that I wasn't as good as Justin or I wasn't as good as Van, but that frustration is what drove or put the energy behind me to outwork everyone. So I think there's just a lot more value in it.
Conor McGregor talks about the same thing.
I love that. I think that's an amazing piece of advice for whether you're an entrepreneur, a skateboarder, you're in business, anything you're doing, I think that's super valuable. So, Mikey, want to thank you for coming on the show. We had a great time. And why don't you shout out your socials. I know you just mentioned about every single platform that you're on, but for our audience that's tuning in, where can.
We find you can pick the platform and put in just Mikey Taylor. I'm at Mikey Taylor on all of them. Other than X. That one's an interesting one. It's like Mikey underscore Taylor and the L is a one. It's ridiculous. That one's a failure.
All, thanks for coming on this, boys.
Thanks for having me.

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