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Episode Number: 161

Episode 161- Overcoming Adversity and Building Wealth Through Relationships with Casanova Brooks

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Jamila Souffrant 00:00

You're listening to the Journey to Launch podcast How to Overcome Adversity and Build Wealth Through Relationships with Casanova Brooks.

Recording 00:12

Welcome to the Journey to Launch podcast with your host Jamila Souffrant. As a money expert who walks her talk, she helps brave journeyers like you get out of debt, save, invest and build real wealth. Join her on the journey to launch to financial freedom in five, four, three, two, one.

Jamila Souffrant 00:39

Hey, hey hey journeyers. Welcome to the Journey to Launch podcast. If you are an OG listener, then you know your journeyer already. That's what we call each other here. If you're new, you're journeyer no debate. Every week I bring you a brand-new episode, and I'm happy to bring you this week's episode. I'm going to be talking to Casanova Brooks on the podcast this week. Now Casanova Brooks is an award-winning author, high energy keynote speaker and entrepreneur. And as you'll hear through our conversation Casanova has been through a lot in his life. He is battled cancer, he's lost his mother, his job home all in a matter of weeks. And he has had very limited resources to really bring him to where he is today. So, he's going to talk through how it is that he became a successful entrepreneur. And really, it's through his mindset and building meaningful relationships. So, we're going to talk a lot about that in the podcast, and I'm excited for you to hear it.

Jamila Souffrant 01:33

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Jamila Souffrant 02:18

If you want the episode show notes for this episode, go to journeytolaunch.com or you can click the description wherever you're listening to this episode to get the full episode show notes. Now if you are a new listener to the podcast or OG journeyer I've created a Jumpstart Guide to help you on your journey to financial freedom. It includes the top episodes listen to, the stages to go through to reach financial freedom, resources to help you and so much more. Get it for FREE by texting, launch to 33777, text launch to 33777 or go to journeytolaunch.com/jumpstart to get your guide for free right now. Okay, let's hop into the episode.

Jamila Souffrant 03:06

Hey journeyers I am back with another what I hope to be inspiring and insightful episode. I have Casanova Brooks on the podcast. Hi, Casanova.

Casanova Brooks 03:15

Hey Jamila, how are you?

Jamila Souffrant 03:17

I am excited to talk to you and to learn more about your story. So, one of the things that we talked about before I pressed record was just like all the things you've been through in life and how you turn all that adversity into things that fueled you to success. You made a name for yourself in real estate investing. But I think what stands out the most for me is just your ability to mentally succeed. And I feel like for journeyers, people who listen to this podcast, the mental part of stuff, to me is actually the most important key to building wealth. Like it's like that stuff that you actually have do the internal work. So, I'm really excited to get to learn more about your story, and for you to share what you were able to do to be able to elevate yourself to this so just I'm excited. Welcome to the podcast.

Casanova Brooks 04:00

Thank you. I mean, I'm excited to share and hopefully I can be some type of value to your listeners. And yeah, I'm very excited to be on.

Jamila Souffrant 04:08

Okay, so first, let's tell everyone a little bit more about who you are. I know like real estate is your background a bit, but like, what have you been able to accomplish? Because people like okay, so who's Casanova? And why should we care? Like, what have you been able to do with your real estate investing portfolio, and then we can kind of like jump into the mindset stuff that allows you to do that.

Casanova Brooks 04:27

Yeah, so I would say really looking at my backstory, I think it would, it would lead up a lot into where we are today, and what I've been able to accomplish. So, I always like to think of myself as a relationship builder before anything else. So, for me, I grew up in inner city, Chicago, and I was raised by a single mom, I was also my grandma stepped in to help lead the way of being my dad. So, for me, I never had anybody that told me exactly what I was supposed to be in life, which was kind of a good thing, but at the same time, I never had anybody who could really lead me as far as from a man's perspective. I was the only child. So, I didn't have any older brothers or anything like that. So for me, it was a lot of trial and error when people look at it now of like me owning multiple businesses, me being in real estate having a real estate investing portfolio, me being the Rookie of the Year here in Nebraska in my first year, within nine months, I did 46 deals and $8 million in volume, in real estate as an agent, all those things I think they attribute to just how I've been able to build relationships. So that's how I think I've gotten to this point. But looking back, I know a lot of the times people love to know the backstory, and if it's okay with you, I'll share a little bit more into that backstory.

Jamila Souffrant 05:41

Yeah, let's go there. Because I think obviously the backstory, all those things that you've went through allowed you to be who you are today, so I definitely want to jump into that.

Casanova Brooks 05:49

Yeah. So again, I grew up inner city, Chicago, raised by my mom and grandma, and when I was growing up, I was raised in the heart of gangs, violence, just everything that should have told me that this was not supposed to be where I am today because I had the odds stacked against me. But I did have a strong mind. I had two strong minded women who always tried to protect me. So, they would always tell me, you know, that like, I could be anything that I wanted to be. But again, I didn't know where exactly I was supposed to go in life. So, I guess the first stage of adversity that I went through, was I had two best friends who I was spending all my time with. And we were young. I mean, this was around first second grade where we would always go to the beach, and Chicago. And basically, one Sunday, they came over to the house and we was this was routine, and they said, hey, we're about to go to the beach. And I for whatever reason, I can't tell you the reason why. But for whatever reason, I said, I don't want to go this morning. It was a fast forward that story about four hours later I remember their mom coming over to our house saying hey, do you know where the boys are thinking that I was supposed to be with them and maybe they would have knew where we all were? A mom says no, you know, Cass is in the room and then come to find out they both wind up drowning at that beach that day. So that was the first time that I was like, man, like this is crazy.

Jamila Souffrant 07:06

Wow.

Casanova Brooks 07:07

I just lost lost my two best friends and I was supposed to be right there with them.

Jamila Souffrant 07:10

How old were you?

Casanova Brooks 07:12

At this time? I was probably about eight years old.

Jamila Souffrant 07:15

Okay.

Casanova Brooks 07:16

Maybe nine years old. So that was my first thing that like, I was just like, oh my god. I mean, I was spending 100% of my time those were my guys. We were The Three Musketeers. So that was kind of that first thing that it was like my while and I had to figure out how to cope with that. But then again as drugs and gangs and everything else became more accessible to me because I became older and I'm starting to become more and more aware, my grandma started to become more and more aware. So, my grandma says, hey, you know what, we gotta get him out of here. So, by the end of my sixth-grade year, basically my cousin had just graduated college and then she went on to not come back to Chicago, but to go to a small town in Iowa called Sioux City. So, a lot of my other family started to migrate there just to give kids a better life. Word gets back around to my grandma. Next thing I know less than two weeks later, we're on a greyhound going to check out Sioux City, Iowa. And then less than two months later, all of our stuff is packed into a uhaul. And my grandma makes the decision that I'm going to Sioux City, Iowa, obviously, she's coming to, and my mom didn't really have a choice. But she came along because I'm an only child. And so yeah, so that's how everything starts the first change for me.

Casanova Brooks 08:23

So, what does that look like? Well, first off, I'm about 13 years old, 12,13 years old. And now I'm in a totally different environment, as you can imagine, coming from inner city, Chicago, where people only look like you and I to now being basically exposed to all of this diversity and having to figure out who are the people that are really on my side and things like that. But I always tell people that I was fortunate enough that my grandma made that decision for me, because I didn't grow up with a sense of ignorant mindset that said that just because you didn't look like me, did not mean that you had to be against me and you couldn't be with me. So, it allowed me to really get out there and just try to build relationships with other people and try to figure out how I could really fit in and even stand out in a world where it's it's so much going on. So, I'm now living life in Sioux City, Iowa. Things are a lot different for me. But then I hit my next stint of I would guess you would call adversity. And that is when I was 15 years old, I was diagnosed with stage four, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer. And so, I was two weeks away from death. And

Jamila Souffrant 09:25

Wow.

Casanova Brooks 09:26

Oh, yeah.

Jamila Souffrant 09:28

Yeah. Wow.

Casanova Brooks 09:29

So, so what that look like it's for me, you know, going through high school I'm a sophomore in high school at this time, very popular and playing basketball, football, track, and I'm also on the dance squad, and they're winning national titles. So, everything is going great. Now keep in mind, I never was sick as a child. I never had chicken pox, measles, anything. So, this was all foreign. And what happens is I wind up leaving football season, about a month early and I was ready for basketball to start up, and I just decided that I didn't want to play football anymore. So then as we're walking through the hallways, I'm telling like my friends, I'm like, Yo, I'm having a hard time breathing. And they're like, Ah, it's probably just because we just started conditioning and basketball. And you're probably just out of shape a little bit. So, I'm like are you know what you're right. But then when I would get out of school and out of practice, I would come home and the first thing I would do is like, take a nap. And so, unlike me, and my mom saw, and she's like, hey, what's up? And I'm like, I don't know, I'm just having a little bit of hard time breathing. I'm super tired. And she's like, okay, well, if this persists, you know, over the next couple of days, like we're gonna go to the doctor and see what's up. And so next couple of days, of course, it did persist, I kept taking lots of naps and feeling tired. And so, then we go to the emergency room one night, and I remember again, I'm always I've always kind of been ignorant to the fact because growing up, I was never exposed to a lot of things. So, like, for me, I didn't know what it looked like to really even go to hospitals and things. So, all I could really think of was when the nurses said, or the doctor said, like, hey, we think it might be a little bit more serious. We're going to do a lot more testing since obviously, it's dealing with breathing and my chest and they're like, we were going to keep him overnight. So, I'm thinking I'm gonna get like sponge bath from nurses, I'm gonna get ice cream, like, I'm only 15 at this time like, this is gonna be great. And then all of a sudden, I remember they come back in and like 1am in the morning, they're like, hey, you know what, actually, we got public transportation that's going to take you guys to the University of Iowa, which is on the other side of the state about four and a half hours away. And we think it may be a little bit more serious. And I remember my mom and grandma being like, wait, what do you mean, like, tell us what's going on. And then the doctor says, like, we think he might have cancer. And then I remember my grandma just being like, whoa. And I and at this time, I'm like, well, what the hell, like I don't really even know cancer, like, what does that mean? All this other stuff? And they're like, well, we don't want to say too much in the beginning. Let's just wait until you know you guys get there. They have specialists there and we'll go from there. So, we go to the University of Iowa about, you know, six, seven hours later, we arrived there, and they do all these testing and thing and then they say like, yeah, you know, it's stage four. It's all throughout your body. And if you would have waited two more weeks, it could have just died. So obviously, I have to stay in that hospital for about 45 days. And I go through all these testings and everything else. So that was where obviously life took a huge turn for me at this time because being 15 those are like your golden years of trying to figure out who you are, are you popular? Are you not? Are you going to go to college? Are you going to become an entrepreneur, all these other things, and I didn't know how to cope with a lot of those things. But I would say that's where my mindset really started to take that shift. And yeah, I guess I would turn it over to you to see, you know, where you'd want to go from here.

Jamila Souffrant 12:31

Yeah, well, so it was cancer, something that like, was in your family before or...

Casanova Brooks 12:38

No, so you know, growing up in Chicago and and I don't want to limit it just to Chicago, but obviously, when you're growing up around an inner city, there's a lot of things that you're doing that is not really conducive to you living a healthy lifestyle. So, for me what was you know, profound in my family was alcoholism, right, everybody was smoking, drinking. You know, there was some drugs, but cancer was wasn't necessarily a big word in my family, at least not that I was exposed to. So no, it's definitely not in childhood cancer. So no, that was all super, super foreign to. So that's why my grandma was like, whoa. And again, I was never ever sick. So, it was like, how do you go from never being in hospital? So, all of a sudden, yeah, two weeks from now, you wouldn't have came in here, we wouldn't have caught this, like you would have been in trouble.

Jamila Souffrant 13:24

Right, right. And, you know, I've experienced a lot of loss from cancer, like personally from people in my life. So it's just one of those things where I remember growing up where cancer was things that happened to other people, right, you know, you heard about it, and like, maybe it's a coworker or someone else and now it's more even rampant like in my just life with people that I know and family members of friends that it shows up more. So, I'm just amazed, you know, at such a young age, you had to personally go through that. So, what did so you recovered? You're here still so thank God but you're here. So, what was that like? So, you're only 15 I know that you've still even like that's not the end of it. Some people love You already talked about a couple of events that would have been enough to really set anyone back, right? And these were all before you were even in your 20s. So, and I feel like it's still not done like you still had a few more moments in your life that were hard that you had to get through. Can you talk through a bit about the recovery from the cancer and then what else do you had to face as you were growing up?

Casanova Brooks 14:21

Yeah. So after I go through this two years of chemo, I'll be honest with you, it was a lot for me, and it would be a lot for anyone, regardless, but when you're 15-17, here's what I'll tell you is for me, what I didn't like about it was, in a sense, I felt almost invincible. And as a high school kid, a lot of people willing, when all things are going away, right for you. It felt like my grades were going fine. I had a lot of friendships, everything was good. Well, then after I got back from the University of Iowa, what started to change was everyone looked at me like a victim. Right? So, this was a big thing for me because now people were asking me Oh, how do you feel like, are you sick or things like that? Well, I had to try to be strong, but then at the same time with going through, you know, chemotherapy every couple weeks and really feeling tired and things not sitting well in my stomach and all these other things, but then at the same time when you're 15 to 17 years old, as we know, just being like a kid anyway, it can be very, very gruesome on what people say to you.

Casanova Brooks 15:21

So, I remember like my buddies and people like that, they would say things that they didn't, I don't think intentionally thought that was gonna hurt me. But when people would say like, oh, man, you better you know, shut up for a knock that poured out of your chest, right? Just things like that. That was like, but I had to be strong about it. And now it was kind of like they never let them see you sweat. So then, like people would laugh, but I would try to, you know, make it seem like it didn't really affect me. So, all of these things. I'm really trying to figure out how do I cope with these things mentally? How do I not show that I am a victim? How do I stay strong, but then at the same time, after school is over and everybody's going over a friend's house but me knowing that I got to either go to cancer treatment or at the same time, I have to just go home and take a rest because I've been at school all day, and I'm super tired. So, I think that is what kind of started to build my armor and build my character.

Casanova Brooks 16:09

But I'll tell you, when I first got done with it, I remember going to my mom and grandma and being and when they said like, hey, you're cured. I remember saying, like, Hey, I'm just gonna be honest, if this thing comes back, like, I'm going out comfort care style, like, I'm not going through all this again. Now, of course, now I have, you know, an eight-year-old son, I have a two-year-old daughter, I have my wife and a lot of other people who depend on me. So of course, I would go through it again. But at that time, it was so so mentally draining on me and physically draining that I thought that I would never go through it again. But so yes, I come out of that. And now I'm really trying to figure out where my life is gonna go. Now I'll tell you early on people asked me was I an entrepreneur early on was I doing all these different things and I would say that I was and the reason being is because, for one, I never saw anybody who was doing anything that I wanted to do and where I got a lot of my inspiration from was the TV because my parents my family never owned house, car, business nothing. So, for me, I'd tell people all the time, like my favorite show growing up was VH1's "The Fabulous Life Of" Do you remember that show?

Jamila Souffrant 17:14

Oh, yes, I remember that.

Casanova Brooks 17:15

Right. It was like their version of MTV Cribs. So, I remember seeing like Richard Branson, and he had the island, right? He had yachts and they would show the bling or the numbers of what this cost so that's what really gave me my inspiration. And, and not really understanding that I had a lack of resources at that time, I was just living in it. And my mom always tried to, you know, instill some type of positivity in me, even though she didn't have it to give to me as far as financial literacy or resources. So, I always felt like one day I'm going to get that type of stuff. So, as I started as really like my first ever job came around the time that I was like eight or nine years old. And what I would do, there was a gas station, probably about four or five blocks away. So, what I would do is I would go over to that gas station mean a buddy or two and we would just stand outside in front of cars. And when you would go inside, you'd come back out if you're at this time. And this is around to give people my age time, this is around 95. Right? So, I would go in there and or you would go in there and come back out. And I would say, hey, if you wouldn't mind, Ma'am, can I pump your gas? And then you would say yes or no. If you said yes, I would pump your gas in hopes that when it was done, you would give me 50 cents $1, whatever. Well, there were some days where I would walk out of there were like, 20 $25, after four or five hours, being eight, nine years old, I'm feeling like I'm rich, right. And at this time, you could still get like penny candy or quarter candy. So, I had my own money. So that was the first time that I could really start to see that I could create my own success. And that just kind of kind of and my parents were proud because I was doing something on my own. I didn't keep coming to them saying hey, I need $1 $2 here or there. And so that was like the way that I kind of found my way through entrepreneurship. So throughout high school and throughout even when I was done with high school and going into college, I tried my hand at so many different things. And it was really just because I love the fact of being exposed to all these things because I knew that I didn't know what was all out there. And I struggled with always making a choice on what I wanted to do, because it was like, again, like thinking about it. When we have kids, and I believe you have kids, right?

Jamila Souffrant 19:18

Oh, yes, three.

Casanova Brooks 19:19

Yep. And so, we have these kids, we think about we want our kids to try some of everything, right? Whether it's sports, or their show choir, whether it's band, whether it's a doesn't matter what it is, we want to try everything to figure out the ropes. And so, for me, I wanted to try everything. And so, I think once I got into college because I wind up going to the University of Iowa. I did three years there. Well as I got into my junior year, about two weeks, in I remember calling my parents after they dropped me off and saying, Hey, I don't think this is what I want to do anymore. But first off, my mom's hot because she's like, you could have told me this two weeks ago.

Jamila Souffrant 19:56

Right.

Casanova Brooks 19:56

Before we dropped you off four and a half hours away, but on top of that, you're not gonna gotta tell your grandma. And remember, I'm first generation everything. So, they're loving the fact that now past two years of going into my junior year, I'm in a four-year big-time university. And they're going to be proud on that. But I really became of the under of the belief and the understanding that just because I had a degree did not mean I was going to be successful in life.

Jamila Souffrant 20:19

What was your major?

Casanova Brooks 20:21

Well I switched my major four times.

Jamila Souffrant 20:23

Oh, my God.

Casanova Brooks 20:24

I started out with computer science. Then I went to business. Then I went to pharmacy because I was going to be a pharmaceutical sales event. And then my junior year, I switched over to communications. I just wanted the piece of paper and I want it to be done with it. Now keep in mind even going throughout all that stuff in high school, I graduated at 17. Right. So, for me, it was like I and then I saw I went even to college like I was a late bloomer, so I turned 18 about three weeks into my freshman year of college. So again, I was done with school. I didn't really want to go anymore, but I knew that it was my parents wanting me to get this piece of paper. So, it's something they can be proud of. And so that was like I changed my major every single time because I didn't like any of those things. I was just trying to figure out, where was my path. And so, I wind up leaving college, my parents didn't support it. They say, okay, you're going to come home, you're going to get a job. And then maybe you can go to community college and figure out what it is that you want to do. So, along this path as well, I'm just trying some of everything. I mean, I'll tell you, I probably had 18 different jobs in my lifetime. I've tried everything. If you think about it, I've sold it. Besides, like major hard drugs.

Casanova Brooks 20:24

Yeah.

Jamila Souffrant 21:32

I do have a question. So, for you because I find it very interesting that you tried so many things. It's good though, because so many of us like we'll start something and be like, this is not for me, but you know, to pivot and do something else. You don't do it right. Like you just think about it and you don't go after it. So, what was the thing that was throughout all those jobs that you tried? Like what was the thing that you were just like this is not it. Like was it a feeling were you dissatisfied with maybe if you had a boss because I've always had that feeling too. Like I hate having to answer to anyone. What was that? How did you know that it wasn't right for you?

Casanova Brooks 22:05

Yeah, I think that it was really about I wanted to control my own time. Right? Because maybe that came from having the cancer where I knew that tomorrow was never promised. And so, I think the other thing was, I was early on in like, I would probably say about 14, it was the first time that I really started to get into the Forbes list. Right? So, I remember when I was young, I would look at all these people on the top 400 of the Forbes or the richest men in the world, women in the world as well, richest people. And I would look at what they were doing. And I was like, oh my god, and so me sitting in a cubicle, or me having somebody else tell me what I could or could not do or go to the bathroom, whatever it was. I was like, listen, this is not my way that I'm going to make it on the top Forbes 100 list. And so that was always where I aspire to be in the end. And then on top of that always felt like in my heart of hearts, I felt like I was never being valued at what I was worth. Right. And so, and so those are a lot of the things that went in there. And I think that I looked at it and I said, listen, if I want to be able to have a true impact on this world, I have to be able to leverage my time. So, if you look at that, let's look at anybody who's a thought leader like Oprah or somebody like that. Nobody tells Oprah where she really has to be. Right and, and things like that. So, I just knew at the end of the day working a job, it was never going to get me to where I needed to be. And so, I tried a lot of different things in hopes that I would find that right path that would lead me to where I want to be. And I think a prime example of this for somebody who when I heard their story, I loved it was Sara Blakely, the Spanx lady.

Jamila Souffrant 23:41

Yeah, uh huh.

Casanova Brooks 23:43

And so, she talks about this, she said early on, she knew she wanted to find like a billion-dollar product. And so, everything that she saw, she was like, okay, is this gonna lead me to my billion-dollar path? Is this gonna lead me and for anybody who's wondering like, what was that? How can they hear it? It was on Reid Hoffman. It's called Masters of Scale. Have you ever heard of that podcast?

Jamila Souffrant 24:03

Yes. Mm hmm.

Casanova Brooks 24:04

So, he interviewed her on there. And I listened to that interview, and you can hear her talk about those things. And it was the first time that I felt like I resonated with someone else who had that vision early on.

Jamila Souffrant 24:15

They just knew.

Jamila Souffrant 24:16

Yeah, they knew. Yeah,

Casanova Brooks 24:18

Exactly. But shared it because so many people, they won't share it like that they will share that they were crazy in the beginning. Right, though, don't make it seem like they had a planned and methodical, you know, way of doing it and yet but she said early on, she said I was crazy. She's I tried to do everything and everything was like will this allow and I think again, if you seek it out in the end, I tell people all the time, people are coaching that I don't coach, like you don't have to love the journey. You don't have to love the process. You just have to be married to the destination.

Jamila Souffrant 24:49

Mm hmm. So, let's stop there. Because I actually think that's very interesting because the thing about like people like Sara, who made it and then are like telling like the actual thought process When they first started, like people will listen to Sara more because they're like, well, she was successful. So, like, I can listen to her. And like, she actually proved herself, right. And I feel like there's so many people and this could be some people listening, you and I probably similar in certain ways in which you have a big vision, you're not necessarily the big vision has not come fully into scope yet, but it's there. And so sometimes, like when you're in the middle of the journey, like you said, it's harder to predict like the outcome, right? Because you don't know exactly what the billion-dollar thing will be, or how many what the big impact you're going to have is going to be and so you do have to start out where you are. And so sometimes I feel like people get a little discouraged because there's like a gap between the vision and where they currently are. So, I find it interesting because I feel like with the journey while you said you didn't have to like enjoy it.

25:46

You don't have to love the journey or even love the process, but you have to be married to the destination.

Jamila Souffrant 25:51

You have to be committed to the destination and I agree, and I would just add in like personally for me, I say that the journey though is the longest part. It's like, who you become on the journey allows you to get to the destination. So, it's like you may not enjoy some of the things you may have to do and go through the obstacles and all that stuff to get there. But it's like part of part of my thing is like, the journey is what really makes you who you are.

Casanova Brooks 26:16

Yeah, absolutely. And I think that when you think about when I say you have to be married to the destination, for me, I believe that I'm a dreamer before anything else, right? So, you, we all are dreamers, when you start out. That's the reason why I have the podcast name what it is, which is Dream Nation, right is because everything starts with a dream. You didn't know when you first decided that you were going to start Journey to Launch you didn't know necessarily that you were going to get to a million downloads, you didn't know that you're going to get to 50 million downloads, right? But you had a dream and you knew that you wanted to impact the lives of others. And you wanted it to be able to be some type of a bridge for them to be able to find where their purpose is and find their clarity and be some type of a resource. So, it started with the dream and now if you looked at this, you think of all of the things that you probably didn't know it was gonna go like this over the last two and a half years, right? Well, there's so many things that you never could have predicted when you first started the now, you'll look back and you'll laugh on it. And you'll say, wow, I didn't know, I never would have thought that I would have been able to get these people to have interest in my podcast. So, where my audience would turn. So that's what I think for a lot of people. All you have to do is think of the big picture, right? And you think about at the end of the day, in a perfect world, who am I going to impact? And what is the legacy that I'll leave? And then along this way, as long as you know that that's my end goal. That's my mission, my vision. Here's my values. I think the path is definitely going to change.

Jamila Souffrant 27:41

Yeah, yeah. So, it sounds like you were searching for that thing. You said you went back home. What was your next move? What did you find that thing? It seems like real estate became that for you?

Casanova Brooks 27:53

Yeah. So real estate was funny because I knew nothing about real estate. Before getting in. I'll tell you how my journey became was my first every job well first, I played online poker at my first real thing that I thought that I was gonna do was video gaming, I thought I was getting so it's funny now because my son, he's just he's very, very good at basketball, he's big into sports, all these other things, but about two and a half weeks ago, and I'm you might be able to relate to this. I asked my son, I was like, Well, what are you going to do when you get older? And there was a lot more context to this and before would always be basketball. But yeah, he just told me a couple weeks ago with pure conviction that he's going to be a YouTuber when he grows up, right and until I'm like, Oh, my God, but and now he's big into the fortnight and everything else, which is us as parents, we're learning how to cope with these things. Because obviously, we've always been fed the traditional route, but we could see that that's not there's no longer necessary to really have a purpose in life and to be successful. We see people winning all day, just like with these podcasts.

Casanova Brooks 28:52

So anyway, for me, I thought originally, I was going to be a professional gamer tried that way out there. My son was born and at the time, there was not a lot of money behind all these things. So, I was like, Okay, well, I gotta get a real job. So, I tried my hand at a lot of different real jobs, then I play poker for a living for two years, that wind up getting shut down in the US. So, I had to get a passport and go live in Canada for three weeks, so I could continue to play. And then but my son was on his way of being born. So, I knew I wasn't going to be able to stay outside of the country while I had a son that was about to be born and all these other things. So, I wanted to come back and I had to get a real job. And so that real job for me at the time was serving tables. And I was around 23 at this time, right? So, I'm I'm 23. At this time, I'm done playing poker, I get a job. I'm serving tables and trying to figure out what my next move is going to be.

Jamila Souffrant 29:37

You're being responsible now you're like, all right, I gotta come back. I have a son on the way.

Casanova Brooks 29:42

All of those things. So, I get this job serving tables, still knowing that I still want my flexibility. So, the reason why I'm serving tables is you get cash tips, you can pick up you can drop shifts whenever you want. All these other things. So, I decide, and it's set up a higher tier restaurant, right? Not full on like the highest but it's probably the average plate there is around $18-$19. So, Mike, okay, so I'm going to do this well, here's what starts to shift in my mind. I begin to get a lot of regulars. So, I will see you, I say, hey Jamila, and you would say, hey, and I would say you're waiting on the table, like just making small talk. And you're like, Yeah, actually, we see that those people are about to get up in your section. We're waiting for them to get up. And then we're gonna sit down there if it's cool. And I'm like, yeah, absolutely. I'll clean off the table. And then what started to dawn on me Is that you, your family, your friends, like you could have went anywhere in the city on this given Thursday, Friday, Saturday night, but not only did you choose to come to this restaurant, but you choose to wait on a table in my section in a world of instant gratification, because you knew that I would serve you because you knew that you wouldn't be hassled it wasn't about the tip. It was really about the relationship. So that started to like dawn on me. And I love the conversations and I was like, Man, this is like maybe I'm onto something here.

Casanova Brooks 30:53

So, I'm just serving tables and keep doing it. I'm having a lot of fun. Well during this time, I wind up having the GM have a pretty large car dealership that came in and he became one of my regulars. So, we go in to buy a car, and I'm buying it from a buddy of mine. And he says, he sees me out there. And he says, hey, is that Casanova? And he says, Yes, it is. And he says, ask him if he has any interest in selling cars. And so, my buddy comes back out, and he's like, hey, Justin, who's the GM wants to know if you want to sell cars, and I look at my wife, and I keep in mind, I didn't know anything about cars. My parents never owned a car didn't know how to drive a car, really. I was getting my first car, all these other things. So, I'm thinking like nah because all I had in my mind was used sleazy car salesman, right. And I didn't want my name to be associated with that. So, I'm like, Nah, I'm good. So, as all sales managers are, he was very persistent. So, he gets me to come in a few days later. And he's like, yo, let me ask like, what are your goals in life? Now at this time is still serving. So, I'm like, Look, I don't really know. All I know is that I want to make $100,000 in one year, right? I just want to be the six-figure man, I didn't know how I was going to do it, but that would be my first step in my journey to launch. Right? And so that was a big thing for me. So, he says, okay, you see these three guys outside of my glass window. So, I look back and he's got this big glass office and I say, Yeah, he said, Well, all three of those guys made over 90 grand last year, two of which made over 110. And he's like, look, I'm not saying that you're gonna and I, here's what I'll tell you. I knew one of the guys and he was a year younger than me. He went to a different high school, but we at least knew kind of knew each other.

Casanova Brooks 32:27

So now, he's like, pushing my hot buttons. But I didn't know like that. That was still what I wanted to do. But he's like, listen, I'm not saying you're going to come in and make over 110,000. He's like, but I know potential when I see it, and you have that potential. So, he pushed my hot buttons. He told me a couple other things. And long story short, he wants to being able to get me to come sell cars. Well I knew nothing about it. Within six months. I got car salesman of the month on my fifth and the six months, so two months in a row out of 27 other sales reps, and I'm crushing it. So how am I doing that? I know nothing really still about cars, but I know how to build relationships with people. So, around the same time, I'm selling cars, but my son's now born, right? And he's going through this potty-training stage. And now I find that I'm missing so much time there because I'm at the dealership. 8am to 8pm sorry, okay, I'd like I don't really like this will. During the same time, my old my seventh-grade football coach hits me up, and he says, hey, you know, how's things going? Are you interested in making some money on the side? You know and building a business also stuff, so I didn't know what I didn't know what he was getting me to come to one of these meetings. It's a network marketing thing. And specifically, it's Amway. If you've ever heard of that, it.

Jamila Souffrant 33:39

Yeah, yeah.

Casanova Brooks 33:41

Yep. So, I do the Amway thing. And I quickly find within about six to eight months that Amway in particular is not for me, as far as those products and services at that time in my life. But what I did learn was the personal development side, I absolutely love being exposed to it. So, it was the first time I got exposed to like Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, Go for No! Richest Man in Babylon, all these other things. So, I'm like, wow, like nobody's ever told me about this. And so, I want to doing that on the side for again, like six to eight months. And then how I wind up making it to real estate was I got a job opportunity because I'm working so many hours at the car dealership. So basically, I just come off my first 10k month, which and I was is huge because keep in mind, like our average home price in Sioux City, Iowa was like $140,000 right? So, it's like small town, all these things. So, I'm making good money and I'm only like 25 at the time. So, I wind up quitting the car dealership, which looked, it looked like I was crazy. So then moved to Omaha, Nebraska, which was an hour and a half south of Sioux City, which is where I am now, I want to move in here. So, I could basically be a marketing consultant for a big company that at the time was 70% in the telephone directory. Now they've tried to transition out of that, but I remember distinctly my sales manager being like, Nova are you effing stupid? Like you're gonna leave this you just came off the biggest month you've ever had what you're doing for your family so you can go sell Yellow Pages?

Jamila Souffrant 35:11

What made you want to do that? So, for a lot of people I'm listening like in terms of like finding your way finding your path. It sounds like you build it upon like the skills so the one of the things you first said in the interview was relationship building is key. And so that is something that I think any like whether you are entrepreneur or not, relationships are everything. I always say your network is your net worth because if you're able to communicate and find camaraderie with people and really like get to like what people want and need, you're able to then conduct business or be able to exchange services with them. So, for you, it seems like that and plus you had a lot of like ambition and drive. Plus, probably now you're learning about sales because you're doing well with, I mean, sales like even with being a server you're kind of it's like a sales job almost right. You're selling the dishes and its part of it. And so, it sounds like you just you kept building upon your resume. So now you're, you move jobs. So, what was the reason? Was it more like you thought it was a better opportunity to also employ your skills and make more money? Or why did you give up this sales job at the car dealership for this new thing?

Casanova Brooks 36:16

Yeah, so the other thing was sales as well. It was a marketing consultant; it was still going to be based off the sales. But keep in mind that in the beginning, my whole goal through this was to be able to have more time I wanted to control my own time. So how they propose this to me was saying, hey, one, the network marketing congregation the big one that I was a part of was down here in Omaha. So, they say, hey, look, man, you got to get out of that job. How about you come do this job, you're only going to work eight to five, but then there's tons of incentives for you to only work instead of 40 hours, like 25 to 30 hours and then when you're not working, you can quote unquote, build the business, right? And then eventually look for your time freedom. So, I'm like, Okay, cool. So, it was still a sales job. So, I took this job opportunity, but I was always again I use my path, because I knew that I wanted bigger. And I knew that I couldn't get that out of Sioux City and selling cars. So here, let's try this other thing. Plus is in a bigger city. And my wife and I, at that time, we'd always do it over the last like year, year and a half of that time, we were looking at moving down to Kansas City, Missouri. So, the thought was, it's bigger, it's more urban, you got the Chiefs, the Royals, all these things, so we'd be able to have more to do with my son. So, we didn't have any family down there. We had no support. So, when I got this job opportunity in Omaha, it was like, listen, before we move four hours away and leave our families, her mom or dad, her dad, everything. Let's make sure that Omaha works, which is right in the middle. And then if it's still not big enough, after we've made sure we can make this work, then we'll move down to Kansas City. So again, I was just taking every step, but I knew that I always wanted bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger.

Jamila Souffrant 37:50

Okay, yeah.

Casanova Brooks 37:51

It was just one stepping stone in the process. And I knew that I had to do something so.

Jamila Souffrant 37:56

So then how did you get into real estate? At what point were you like how did you start to build your portfolio and know that real estate was for you?

Casanova Brooks 38:02

Right? So, what I decided to do was I took on this job started crushing it at this. Well, then I quickly learned that in the corporate world, everybody could tell you no, but nobody could tell you yes. Right. So, for me, I was leading all these emergent leader programs and things like that, because this was probably about 4000, inside sales reps. And within nine months I finished is number eight in the entire company. Right? So, they were loving everything that I was doing. And I'm like, look, I want to try my hand at management, though. And they're like all Casanova. You know, you're doing so great, but there's no opportunity right now. I'm like, Okay, I see where this is going.

Casanova Brooks 38:38

So, around the same time, I started to look, and do you know who Jay Morrison is?

Jamila Souffrant 38:43

Yes. Hmm.

Casanova Brooks 38:44

So, I wind up catching a Jay Morrison video on YouTube. And he had said, you got to figure out a way to be the Lord of your land. So, for me, I'm like, what the hell does that mean? Like I love that, but I don't. We've never owned real estate. I don't know how to do that. But I look deeper into his story. And I seen that at that time, he was the acclaimed celebrity realtor. So, I said, Okay, and I was like, Okay, I don't know how to own real estate. But what I do know how to do is just from my journey, my path, I know how to build relationships with other people. So how about I get my real estate license, I help other people buy, sell, and invest, and then I'll take my commissions and buy my own real estate. So that was the path that I decided to go on. So, I wind up getting my real estate license because of that path. And then never knowing that I would become this celebrity realtor. My whole goal was just to really figure out how to be the Lord of my land. And that's kind of where that path came in.

Jamila Souffrant 39:41

Yeah, I love that phrase, "Be the Lord of your land." So, with the real estate, you became successful with that, so throughout all of what you're talking about, you know, the adversities you've been through, staying consistent. You know, some people would have given up and just said, you know what, maybe I'm never going to find like the thing maybe I'm not meant to do this big thing. I always say you don't have to have have a crazy big dream, whatever it is that makes you happy, right? That makes you feel like you're fulfilled in life. What are the qualities that allowed you to withstand and to succeed the way that you have so that people can start to think, Okay, what can I do more of in my life? or How can I change how I'm perceiving this thing that's happening to me right now?

Casanova Brooks 40:20

The number one thing that I always thought of is that joy wouldn't feel so good if it wasn't for pain, because we all go through some type of pain. So, if somebody right now is trying to figure out how do they navigate through life, well, first off, always say what is your gift, right? And so, your gift is what comes easy for you and harder for others. So, you you think about what's my gift in this world? And then I think the second part of that is, if you don't really know that, ask yourself when you go throughout your day, what does somebody already tell you? Wow. And thank you for we all have our own unfair advantage. Right?

Casanova Brooks 40:56

And so, what does that look like? You could be somebody who's an engineer Where you look at things on the analytical standpoint, you can be somebody who you're just very detail oriented. And maybe you're a proofreader, or maybe you're some type of a freelancer, you can be somebody who loves your artistic ability. And maybe you want to be a graphic designer, you could be a video editor. There's all these things of what you can do in life. So, for me, if you look at what my path has been, it was always what was my gift. My gift was building relationships with people. My gift was having high energy high charisma. And I understood that because people were already saying, wow, Casanova like your energy is contagious, it's infectious. And so, I just built off of that.

Casanova Brooks 41:37

So, it didn't really matter what I was selling, right? It just mattered that I built the relationships and that always brought positivity to someone else's life. When I went through my last stint of adversity, which was four months after I got my real estate license, and this was probably the biggest one for me. After I got my license, basically, my mom and grandma calls me up and they say, hey, you know what we want to move down to Omaha to be closer to you, Julie and CJ, and they had nothing left in Sioux City. So, we say okay, well within moving my mom down here within a couple weeks, within 24 hours, my mom ends up going to the hospital here in Omaha. To shorten up this story within a week and a half stretch. I lose my mom at that hospital as a domino effect just because of where I am in life right now of transitioning from inside sales to outside sales. So, I can build my real estate business and have more control over my time. I wind up losing that job because I was so brand new, and I still had to protect my grandma and everything else. And then as a result of losing my job, I wind up losing my home, which is our first home that we had under contract. So, when they went to re verify employment to make sure I still had a job. I no longer had that job because of a couple of different other things. So, all within a couple of weeks timeframe, I lose my job, I lose my mom and I lose my home. All within a matter of weeks. Well to fast forward with the nine months. I had did 46 deals in that eight million dollars in volume. But how did I do that I really just honed down on what were my strengths. my strengths was again, I was able to build relationships. People didn't know me, but people didn't know what I even knew about real estate at the time. But I focused on making sure that I could pour into other people that I could have high integrity and high energy. And so, people didn't really care. They didn't know that I was sleeping in a basement next to a furnace and a water heater for my first nine months of selling real estate. But yeah, I was helping them by $300 to $400,000 houses, obviously, which is higher in Omaha as well. So, I just focused on what my gift was. And so, for you think of what is your gift, what comes easy for you and harder for other people and then double down on that strength is what I would say.

Jamila Souffrant 43:44

Yeah, and it sounds like too, because you know, you can never predict what life throws at you or what you endure. And so, you know, there are a lot of people who wouldn't have been able to show up and still do you know that kind of work or sell the real estate or continue on mentally, right? And so, I always say that that's why the mental side of things like how you perceive things, how you withstand things is really what allows you to succeed. Because everyone that I've ever spoke to whether it's on the podcast or in personal life that has succeeded at any level, it's not that they haven't gone through anything and everyone's level of pain. And you know, you can't even Yeah, sure, we can like stack pain against each other and kind of compare it, but everyone has their own thresholds, right. But even the littlest things that may not seem like as big as losing, like a parent can feel like a big setback for someone. But it's really just like not giving up, right? Like, it's almost just like expecting that these things can happen in life. But realizing that the only way that you fail, is if you don't like you said, use your gifts that you were given.

Casanova Brooks 44:43

Yeah, absolutely. And so, the only thing you can never control the result, but the only thing that you can control is your effort. There where you can't control if you're going to win or lose that game. You can't control if your business is going to succeed or if it's going to fail after five years. It doesn't matter only thing can control is your effort. And you always have to find some type of positivity out of every single situation, you can always find something positive. I'll tell you, obviously, over the last 30 days, our world has been super impacted by the loss of Kobe, his daughter and everybody else who was on that flight. And so, for so many people, myself included, your faith is tested by something like that, because you're like, man, this young girl, she was making such a positive impact for other girls and what Kobe has done. I'm a huge basketball fan. So, it's been amazing. And so, you struggle to find what what is the positivity out of that. But then for me just trying to search for what I could find I thought about, you know, I don't know if there's ever been another icon over at least this generation or the last 20 years, that's been able to bring together the world as it has with losing them too. So again, there's no positive out of taking their lives but at the same time, you have to find some type of blemish of hope. And so, if you think about Michael Jackson or Prince or anybody else like that, there's still that disconnect. Because some people might not have really listened to their music or whatever else or the thoughts that they had. But with Kobe and with his daughter and with the other people on there, it was a profound impact in the way that it unified all of us to really just think that there's so many bigger things that we can be grateful for in life, because it can be gone too soon.

Casanova Brooks 46:23

So, I think in every situation, no matter where you are in life, you can find some type of hope. Right? It allowed me to just keep going when I lost my mom to know that everything that I do every minute of every hour, every person who I tried to impact their lives, and I can use her as the beacon of hope that was for me. I'm sure that she's looking down on me and she's proud because that was all she ever wanted in life. I was very, very close to my mom and being a single mother and her doing everything she did for me. Now when I look at this, I say why did I have to lose my mom, but maybe that opened up my eyes to understand that again. It can all be gone tomorrow. You have to figure out what is the positive angle that you can take from this that allows you to smile. Because if you can smile, somebody else will see that smile. And it becomes again contagious and infectious. And if you hit him with a thank you or whatever else, maybe you made somebody else's life, or at least day that much better that day.

Jamila Souffrant 47:19

Yeah, that's so powerful. I'm so glad that you walked us through your story and you overcoming adversity. I know, there's some people listening that may have lost a loved one recently, or just in general in their life, or are just going through something. And so, to hear that at the end of the day, like you can still realize your dreams, even if you know like you try different things and it's not working. You really just got to keep pushing forward that you can come out on the other side. So please Casanova, we'll let everyone know like where they can find out more about your story. Follow your journey and you have a podcast. So, share all the things where people can catch up with you.

Casanova Brooks 47:51

Yeah, first I'll say again, I appreciate you having me on here. This has been a wonderful conversation, and I look forward to having you on mine as well. For anybody who wants to stay connected with me, I am very, very accessible. I'm on all the social media sites. @Casanova_Brooks. I'm the most active on Instagram. And then I do have my podcast, which is Dream Nation. It's one word. It's out on iTunes, Google podcasts, Pocket Casts. That's all over but it's Dream Nation, and I guess the last thing that I would say on this is, understand that your journey, a lot of the times, it's not for you, right, we all have our own stories that we tell ourselves in our head, but you have to be able to get outside of your own head and you have to understand that you're going to impact somebody else with your journey. So, every day when you push forward, maybe it's your son, maybe it's your brother, your sister, maybe it's somebody who is in your mastermind group, but everybody's looking for inspiration and hope to just keep moving forward every single day. That's the reason why masterminds and coaching programs are so big. And so, understand that if you're only thinking about yourself, and why you can't do that next step forward, that you're being selfish because your journey is not for you, it's for someone else. And that's how we make this world a better place.

Jamila Souffrant 49:08

Yeah, thank you so much. And so, I will definitely link all of this in the show notes. So, thanks again. Casanova. This was great.

Casanova Brooks 49:14

Yes, thank you. I appreciate it.

Jamila Souffrant 49:19

Okay, journeyers I really hope you enjoyed that podcast. That conversation with Casanova Brooks. Adversity is all relative. I don't think we should compare our problems and issues to someone else. Because what is a lot for someone may be not a big deal for someone else. And we all have our journeys that we're on, and are things that block us that stop us that temporarily stop us right not permanently, but that cause us to pause and decide if we're going to continue and hope because you're listening to this podcast, you'll always decide to continue no matter how bleak things seem because there is a light at the end of the tunnel. So, I'm glad that I was able to talk to Casanova through how he was able to get through all those tough times in his life and put him to where he is today. So, I hope you can take away something from this. Implement something, shift mindsets, be more encouraged for your journey in life and in financial freedom and independence.

Jamila Souffrant 50:18

Don't forget if you want the episode show notes to get any of the links mentioned in this episode, go to journeytolaunch.com or click the description wherever you're listening to this to get the link to the show notes. And if you want that free Jumpstart Guide to help you on your financial freedom journey, text launch to 33777 text launch to 33777 to get your free guide today or go to journeytolaunch.com/jumpstart. If you want to support me and the podcast and love the free content and information that you get here, here are four ways that you can support me in the show. One make you're subscribed to the podcast wherever you listen. Whether that's Apple podcasts, that purple app on your phone, your Android device, YouTube, Spotify, wherever it is that you happen to listen, just subscribe so you are not missing an episode. And if you're happening to listen to this and Apple podcasts, rate review and subscribe there, I appreciate and read every single review. Number two follow me on my social media accounts. I'm at journey to launch on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And I love love love interacting with journey are there. Three, support and checkout the sponsors of this show if you hear something that interests you, sponsors are the main ways we keep the podcast lights on here. So, show them some love for supporting your girl. Four And last but not least, share this episode this podcast with a friend or family member or coworker so that we can spread the message of Journey to Launch. Alright, that's it. Until next week, keep on journeying journeyers.

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Casanova Brooks lost everything–his mom, his house, and his job all in a short span of a few weeks. However, he refused to allow adversity to stop him. Nine months later, he was a real estate agent, breaking records. He closed 46 deals worth a total of $8 million dollars his first year as an agent.

Casanova is an award-winning real estate agent, investor, podcast host, and CEO. Previously featured on Yahoo News, ABC, NBC, and more. He has an amazing story of triumph and perseverance. 

In this episode, Casanova and I talk about overcoming adversity, the power of relationships, and how to become the master of your time and freedom. This is an inspiring conversation you don’t want to miss! 

In this episode you’ll learn: 

  • Ways to overcome adversity under any circumstances
  • Simple techniques to leverage relationships and grow your business
  • How to create your own success
  • Great books and podcasts that will inspire you
  • The effect a positive mindset can have on your journey, and more

I'm listening to Episode 161 of the #journeytolaunch podcast, Overcoming Adversity and Building Wealth Through Relationships with Casanova Brooks! Click To Tweet

Celebrate the 3 Year Anniversary Episode of the Journey to Launch Podcast 

Hey Journeyers! Do you want to celebrate the 3 year anniversary of the Journey to Launch Podcast with me? I have something special planned and I need your help to make it happen!

I would love to hear how the Journey to Launch Podcast has helped you and your journey to financial freedom. Send in a a short voicemail (90 secs) for a chance to have it played on the 3 year anniversary episode in July!

Here’s a guideline of what to say in your voice-note:

  • Your name & where you are from
  • Something you’ve gained or accomplished since listening to the podcast (a money win , paid off X, negotiated a raise, better money mindset, etc)
  • A money/financial tip for other Journeyers on the path that can help them too that you’ve learned or implemented

You can record your voice-note here (please make sure you’re speaking clearly into your mic so that we can hear you and that there is no background noise)

Thank you in advance!


Other related blog posts/links mentioned in this episode:

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