Cocktails and Dreams Real Estate Podcast | Michael Poggi | Wealth Creation


If you wanted to become a millionaire, and you didn’t know where to start, there’s one guy that I’d send you to – Michael Poggi, owner and president of the The Millionaires Real Estate Investment Group.

Michael exemplifies the focus strategy and tactics necessary to create wealth and real estate, and he does it methodically. He’s calculated and like a stand-up comedian who tested their material over and over until they slay the audience with perfect material. Whether he’s speaking, hosting a webinar, or finding deals for his clients, Michael works with a detail and lethal accuracy that I rarely see. A lot of multimillionaires that I meet are very closed off with their secrets, but Michael is an open book. He’s incredibly giving, and he’s one of the few people that I’ve met whose heart is bigger than his wallet.

I met Michael at an event in Sarasota, Florida, when he was speaking about an investment strategy, and how to make money investing in quarter-acre buildable lots in resort communities. The community that he was referring to was right in my backyard, and here was a guy who was not from around here who had a strategy that was earning him millions each year, and no one around me, including me, was doing this. In addition to his vacant lot strategy, he invests with his self-directed IRA and he’s been doing that for years. He can help people build wealth tax-free using none of their own money.

This is a podcast that I’ve been wanting to record for over a year, but it’s one that I desperately wanted to do in person because I can tell that there’s more to Michael than his powerful suits and strategies. It took me a while to get him to Branson, but he came and shared this strategy at one of our live training events. We went into the studio and we put this episode together for you.

He’s one of the most genuine and giving men that I’ve ever met. He shares with us a taste of that strategy, as well as the forces behind his career, the influential family that pushed him in the right direction, the major successes he’s had as a stockbroker and the dot com era, and some of the major failures that he’s had as an entrepreneur as well. Michael’s ability to come back to life after a major setback, make a mint, and share that strategy with us – in my eyes makes him a hero. They say you’re not supposed to meet your heroes but I’m friends with mine. Enjoy!

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Michael Poggi | WEALTH Find Build Invest Protect Repeat

If you want to become a millionaire and you don’t know where to start, there’s one guy that I’d send you to, Michael Poggi. He exemplifies the focus strategy and tactics necessary to create wealth in real estate. He does it methodically. He’s calculated and like a standup comedian who tests their material over and over until they can slay an audience with perfect material. When he’s speaking, hosting a webinar, or finding deals for his clients, Michael works with detail and lethal accuracy that I rarely see.

A lot of multi-millionaires that I meet are very closed off with their secrets, but Michael is an open book. He’s incredibly giving and one of the few people I’ve met whose heart is bigger than his wallet. I met Michael at an event in Sarasota, Florida, where he was speaking about an investment strategy and how to make money by investing in quarter-acre buildable lots in resort communities. The community he referred to was right in my backyard, and here I was having this major aha moment.

Here was a guy who was not from around here who had a strategy that was earning him millions each year, and no one around me, including me, was doing this. In addition to his vacant lot strategy, he invests in his self-directed IRA, which he’s been doing for years, so he can help people build wealth tax-free using none of their own money.

Now, this is an episode that I’ve been wanting to do for over a year, but it’s one that I desperately wanted to do in person because I can tell that there’s more to Michael than his powerful suits and strategies. It took me a while to get him to Branson and he graciously came and shared this at one of our live training events.

I nabbed him and we went into the studio and we put this together for you. He’s one of the most genuine and giving men that I’ve ever met. He shares with us a taste of that strategy, as well as the forces behind his career, the influential family that pushed him in the right direction, the major successes he’s had as a stockbroker in the dot com era, and some of the major failures that he’s had as an entrepreneur as well.

Michael’s ability to come back to life after a major setback, make a mint and share that strategy with us, in my eyes, makes him a hero. They say you’re not supposed to meet your heroes. I’m friends with mine so here you go, Owner and President of The Millionaires Real Estate Investment Group, Michael Poggi. You always look good. You seriously impressed me. You look good in black and you look good in red and blue. You normally wear red, but you’ve been wearing more blue lately.

Blue is a little softer.

You look good in a suit. Do you like wearing a suit?

I do. Blue is like a Branson color. Red is a Florida color.

Talk to me about that.

Powerful colors attract people, bright yellow, bright red, bright blue. Over the years, I’ve tried different things to see how people react. I’ve tried brown, green, gray, and earth tones, and they didn’t have the same effect.

Powerful colors attract people. Share on X

Tell me about some of the effects that you’ve had and some of these experiments.

I’ve tried different clothes to see not only how I feel in them. Do I feel like a firecracker? Do I feel like a big explosion or do I feel sleepy? If I were to wear, for example, a brown jacket, I would feel just less powerful. I would be perceived as less powerful in the eyes of the people that are watching me. As soon as I started wearing power colors, not only did people comment on it, but it seemed to have people more attracted to the significant powerful colors of the blues, the reds, and so on. Blue is a soft power color whereas red is a punching power color.

Give me an example of when you would wear it, and we’re talking about accents, right? A black suit with a red tie or red shirt. What’s an example of where you would need to wear red?

I’m going to an area like Branson where everyone is laid back, country living, happy people, and like the woods or the outdoors, then I would probably wear a powerful blue, but if I’m going to be in Miami, or if I’m going to be in Chicago, or I’m going to be in New York, or front of a lot of really high-level maniac people, then I would wear bright red. I think about it in the morning when I’m thinking about where am I going to be, who’s going to be in the audience, and what would be appropriate.

You are a very results-driven person. Even in your digital marketing campaigns, you’ve helped recommend people for me and my business that you’ll say, “Yes, this guy gets results.” Even in our conversations where I tend to be more creative and try to figure out a fun thing to do. You’ll say, “No, this is tried and true. Let’s do this.” I love the tried and true nature of your wardrobe because it seems like when you wake up each day, you want to get results out of that day. Tell me about some examples of when you tried certain colors, but they didn’t work.

If I were a green or an earth tone color, not only did I not feel strong or powerful, but I also didn’t convey that power as well. That started early on as a stockbroker in Chicago. As a young man, when I got my first real career as a stock broker, I went from making $30,000 a year to $30,000 a month. Big difference. I was so poor that I lived on a mattress on the floor, renting a place with my brother. I had one suit. That was it. One suit.

Were you in Chicago at this time?

Suburbs of Chicago because I couldn’t afford to even live in downtown Chicago. I had to live as far south as I could to be able to afford the rent. I slept on a mattress, not even with a box spring or nothing at all, just a mattress on the floor. I had one suit and I had to wear the suit every day. I had to drive an hour downtown in bad traffic to get downtown to a stockbroker’s firm to learn how to be a cold-caller.

Entering The Stockbroker World

Let’s talk about this for a second because I think most people would try to get up and don a wardrobe and they will say, “I like this.” “This makes me feel good.” “This is good.” “This is creative.” “These are a lot of colors.” You get up and you don a wardrobe that says, “I actually care about the way people perceive me, so I’m going to wear this so I can get the most out of my day.” Help me understand why you decided to be a stockbroker. Guide us into that part of your life.

Working different jobs as a young man, I was always discouraged about how much I made. What are some jobs that you had that discouraged you? My first job was working at a pizza restaurant, busting tables and cleaning up all the dishes. I saw the owner of the pizza restaurant making big money, having a beautiful car, and a beautiful home. I got a chance to work in the summers on construction. I was hauling bags of cement, hauling lumber, hauling two-by-fours, and watching the laborers put together the walls and the foundation.

Did you have any aha moment during that time or did you just do the work and get the results that you were looking for out of that?

At that time, I was only just a laborer and didn’t know how I would ever become a builder. I thought to myself, “This builder is building three or four houses at a time, over and over again.” When I would visit his house, I was friends with his son. I would visit his house, and he lived on probably twenty acres like you have. It is a beautiful property with a big giant pond with Canadian geese, fishing, and everything.

I said, “This is something that I would love to have someday.” When I would go inside the house, I could not believe how many bedrooms, all the brand new carpeting, how thick it was, and all the big giant garages they had and warehouses on the property for snowmobiles and four-wheelers. I said, “How could this be?” My brother, who is the opposite personality that I am. Very passive, but also very loving and very caring, we have a great relationship. He was always looking out for me. He said, “You need to go work downtown as a stockbroker.”

Your brother said that to you? Why did he say that?

It’s because he was a stockbroker. He went downtown to try it. He saw all these guys making $100,000 a month and he said, “You got to go and do this.”

Why is this story emotional for you? Help me understand and take your time.

It was my first chance to make some real money.

Why is that important to you?

Again, because I struggled so hard just to make ends meet, I saw people doing well. I always wanted to be appreciated by my dad and have my dad proud of me. Since I couldn’t do what he did, which was to open hair salons at that time, I was still too young and green. I knew that I had to do something in sales because I wasn’t good at analyzing things or anything like that. I couldn’t be an accountant, couldn’t be anything like that. I couldn’t be a doctor and couldn’t be a lawyer. I wasn’t great in school. I had to be able to pass a message on to someone and get paid for it.

Now, help me understand this because I’m starting to get to know you pretty well now. I know that your dad recently passed, and I’m sure that’s why. This is all coming up for you. Let me just say that I’m honored to have this conversation with you because I admire and respect you. I hope to learn so much from you and I want to get into that in just a little bit, but you told me stories about you working for your dad and you did so well.

You had to impress him. The way your dad had a chain of hair salons. You were the guy who negotiated the leases, went in, and hired the girls that came in. You were in your 20s, below 25 years old. I remember your story. You grew all of that for your dad. Certainly, he had to be so proud of you, wasn’t he?

My mom, my brother, and I also worked in the company together. The four of us all took part in doing our share. Of course, we didn’t do what we were not good at. Since I wasn’t great at personnel, my brother was very good, patient with people, and patient enough to spend time with people who kept making mistakes. He was the one who handled the people, and I was the one who handled scouting new locations, negotiating leases, and other things like that to help grow the business.

Your most significant accomplishments as a young working man, working for your dad, were helping him grow his Chicago Haircutting Company. You grew that to 51 locations and then had a big exit. Your whole family did.

They were the owners so we didn’t get any of the profit. We only had the fun of helping build.

Watching it happen but still the apprenticeship factor of watching that all happen.

It was a million-dollar lesson.

It was Michael, it was. Here’s one of the things that I recognized about you, and maybe it’s because you were so well dressed, but when I got my BA, I decided I wanted more out of my life and career. When I joined BA, I had massive Imposter Syndrome. I said to myself, “I don’t know if I belong in this room.” It is because I had just come off of a huge win in one market in Branson, Missouri, done $256 million and I had grown this massive team and I decided I wanted to scale.

From talking to Carl Gould at BA, the skill set of going from growth to a scale mindset, I was now dumping all of my money into a model where I would be scaling to five states, having to recreate all of my systems and maybe not having faith in myself that I could take my brand nationwide. It’s because I had the same thing when I started my brokerage. I thought I was not from around here. People aren’t going to do business with me.

In four and a half years, I was doing way more business than the independent guy simply because I’m relentless and I have grit. I guess that coming to BA, I had taken off my black belt and put on a white belt. There are so many amazing business entrepreneurs there because when I see myself trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up, I see you as a man with means and morals. You’ve got a message and it works.

It has worked for you. Your vacant lot strategy, which we’ll talk about here in a little bit. You’re not going to have money because I think you only take good calculated risks. You’re smart with your money.  How to get it and how to keep it. I could tell that about you right out of the gate, and I thought I could learn a lot from this guy because I’ll sometimes give up a bag full of money just for some life experience or for people.

I need advocates in my life who will say, “Jeremy, don’t do that because you need to keep some of that money.” I see you as a big brother to me as we continue to grow in our relationship. That’s what I was excited about. I’ve been after you to do an episode for a long time. I don’t know if you remember the second or third BA, but I said, “Let’s do a blog. It’s so hard to blog there because there’s so much value in the dinners and all that. It’s hard to separate ourselves.

This setting’s much better.

It is much better. Thanks for accommodating me and coming all the way out here for it.

It was funny because when I first met you, I got to know you when you came into the breakout session. I talked about Bella Vista, and you said, “I know Bella Vista. I live right over there.” I couldn’t believe it because no one had ever said that in 20 years. No one’s ever said, “I live over there.” Everyone says, “I live in New York.” “I live in Chicago or Florida.” To have someone who lives where I like was so exciting for me. I’m like, “He knows what I’m talking about. He knows that the place is beautiful. He knows that it’s gorgeous.”

I think I even put my hand up and said, “Everything he’s saying is true.” “How do you know this?” How did you find Bella Vista?

It is because I paid a research company to find the fastest-growing subdivisions in the country that met my criteria. Meaning, under $20,000.

For the readers, we are talking about a vacant lot strategy where you’re looking for resort communities with amenities with vacant lots under $20,000. 

I came up with a few of them. There were a total of four choices and the first choice that I tried was a long time ago in Lago Vista, Texas. Very similar, with lakes and amenities and everything, but that’s the one that I practiced on. I got my feet wet there and I had such a huge success. I said, “If I can do this again in another subdivision similar to it, that has a lot of vacant lots.”

If there are not that many, then you’re in and out of there, and then you have to start all over again with all of the research. Everything has to be learned from scratch, including all of the marketing, learning all about the permit, planning, and zoning. It’s not as just as easy saying, “I’ll move to the next subdivision.” It takes a lot to know everything about it. How fast did a house sell?

The farming campaigns and the marketing letters that get people to respond are all very detailed. What you do is very calculated and systematic and quite beautiful, honestly.

Going back to the stockbroker days, that is deeply rooted inside me because I saw many people invest in stocks and mutual funds and lose money. Whether I picked it or they picked it, it didn’t matter. A stockbroker has no better picks than you do. If you were to say, “I’ll buy Appl.” “I’ll buy Microsoft.” You could be just as right as any stockbroker. You’re paying a stockbroker to pick things for you who has no idea what’s going to happen in the future. It’s guessing.

Cocktails and Dreams Real Estate Podcast | Michael Poggi | Wealth Creation
Wealth Creation: A stockbroker’s picks are no better than yours, yet you pay them to choose your investments despite their inability to predict the future.


Certainly, though, the stockbroker who lives in that world is going to maybe have some idea better than you.

I thought so, but I guess I realized I was wrong. In other words, even all the other brokers in the office, I’ve seen them pick stocks where the FDA didn’t come out with a drug in the stock tank to zero, or maybe the company was doing something wrong with taxes and they got in trouble and then the stock would drop or like Enron or Blockbuster Video. I can name a lot of stocks that all of us said, “Yes, that’s going to be a great one.”

Many of us were wrong, including mutual funds. I just got to see over about seven years, maybe eight years, of people who believed in mutual funds and believed in stocks. More than 90% of them never really got ahead. Maybe they were ahead for a while, and then they were down for a while, and they were ahead for a while.

Not to say that you couldn’t invest in the S&P 500 and do okay, but most people didn’t do that. Most people were not picking the S&P 500. They were picking things they thought would do well because they would agree with the stockbroker. To make a long story short, those people ended up telling me how they were doing overall. I would have lunch with them.

I found out that they were doing way better in real estate. Some of that has to do with the fact that they had apartment buildings, rental income, new construction projects, and land. As I got a chance to get to know them better, some of them were my dad’s friends. They were super wealthy. They would give me $1 million to trade, but they had $20 million or $30 million in real estate or more.

As I got to learn more about them, they would say, “Michael, the money we give you for stocks, even though it may work out, is our gambling money.” They said that a wealthy person doesn’t make their money by betting on John Hancock, Templeton, or any of those types of mutual funds or individual stocks.

They said that they make their money from appreciation in real estate, rental in real estate, and leveraging real estate. Leveraging is where I said, “You mean that you can use $100,000 to control a $500,000 house?” You can’t do that in mutual funds and you can’t do that in stocks. I saw them making way more money outside of what I was doing.

A wealthy person doesn't make their money by betting on John Hancock, Templeton, or any of those types of mutual funds or individual stocks. They make money from appreciation in real estate, rental in real estate, and leveraging real estate. Share on X

There were times when I did make them a lot of money, but even then, it wasn’t nearly as much as they can do with the real estate, with the depreciation, the interest reductions, write-offs, and the rental income they would make. Then when they would sell it on terms, they would be the bank. I got to see them do that. They can’t do that with mutual funds, either. All of the things they were doing with real estate were not being done by a typical buy-and-hold of the stock market.

It seems like there are some things you maybe you can do with the stock market. I mean, you can trade on margin, that’s leverage. You can sell short. There are options, puts and calls. Did you have to do all of that stuff? Did you get to learn all that part of the business?

The people who traded on margin did well during the good times but got cream during the bad times. I’m certainly aware of the dangers of investing in real estate on margin, meaning making a down payment, but there are always ways to get out of a jam with real estate. For example, the lender would extend your term.

They didn’t want the property back and would say, “We’ll give you six more months. Let’s figure it out.”

They don’t do that in the stock market. Secondly, you had rental income from the property that maybe was getting upside down. If your property decreased in real estate, you had rental income to offset that.

You didn’t have to sell.

Exactly, but if your stock dropped and you got a margin call, there’s no rental income. You’re stuck. I saw a lot of people get hurt, including myself. I was trading lots of money in the stock market. I had many good years trading tech stocks, making 30% to 50% of my money per year. When the market turns the other way and you’re not on the right side of the fence, whether you’re going long or going short, it doesn’t matter, and you still can be on the wrong side of the fence and get creamed.

I’ll give you one example. It is funny. There was supposed to be some good news coming out about Microsoft. I went ahead and bought an option, and I was probably going to be betting about $40,000 on one option. I ended up typing the wrong symbol and clicking send. When I clicked send, I realized what I had done and it was too late. I lost a lot of money by typing in the wrong symbol for this, and that was just a simple trade.

Things like that can go wrong, but then there were some great times when I made huge money when Yahoo opened up on the market, an IPO. We had good times and bad times, but it was a roller coaster, and I didn’t want to feel like that. I got a chance to move most of those clients into real estate when I sold my brokerage firm and got out of there.

I remember I was a waiter at the Olive Garden and somebody told me they were so fired up about it. He was about a 60-year-old guy who looked very professional, seemed much smarter, and had more life experience than me. I was this waiter doing a good job. He said, “You know what, son? You’re doing a good job here. I’m going to give you a piece of advice. Go take all your money and put it into Microsoft. You’ll be wealthy.”

I went home and I thought about it. I was talking to Kelly about it and I was like, “This guy says we should put all our money in Microsoft. How are we going to get ahead?” I’m making $320 a week here.  Every single dollar that I made passed through my fingers. I counted literally. I was working hard for every single dollar.

This guy, whom I didn’t know and who I assumed was smarter than me, almost made me invest in Microsoft. I didn’t invest in it, but I watched it at that point and I watched it tank right after that. I was like, “I’m so glad I didn’t invest in this guy.” That helped me realize that don’t take the advice of somebody who’s an armchair quarterback.

I’m sure he lost a lot of money, and how many people did he give bad advice to probably lose money? Let me ask you this. Going back a little bit in the conversation, your brother told you that you needed to go be a stockbroker. Was that because he was a stockbroker, and could you make a lot of money that way?

He knew me so well. He was an average stockbroker who didn’t have the strength and the power to use the phone. He was so smart that he would tell everyone all of the details and facts about the stock. He would spend more time talking about the actual stock when I didn’t know any of those details. All I said is that you need to buy this, send the money now.

I became a top producer and was accelerated so fast that they offered me assistant manager, branch manager, and finally, my own office. The fact that I didn’t know anything about the companies that I was recommending, other than it was Microsoft or Intel or something like that, gave me the ability to raise way more money. Since I was also so persistent and he was more passive and laid back, I accelerated so much that he realized that it wasn’t for him to be a stockbroker.

He didn’t want to be a stockbroker and he wanted to manage people and growing companies as some type of manager, then own his own company and manage the people. To this day, he trains people in a big insurance office and owns half the office. Even though he’s good in sales now, after all these years of practice, he is still a master of patience and training people, and he has the patience to train every single detail about becoming a good insurance agent.

Where for me, I want to go out and acquire insurance agencies. I don’t want to train people; I want to acquire them, and I want to buy more agencies. The difference he and I had was recognizable. He knew what I needed. He was very good at saying, “Mike, this is better for you. You need to go here.” He just sent me there. He said, “Just show up and here, talk to this guy.”

I sat down next to the top producer in the office. He was an Italian guy and a maniac. He never sat down. He walked back and forth in his office, yelling at people all day long. I know that’s not the best model to follow. He yelled at me and everybody, but he made $150,000 a month and was the boss. He was the top producer in the whole office. He made just a penny less than the guy who owned the branch.

When I sat next to him, he hired me as a cold caller. He said, “I’m not paying you anything.” I said, “What do you mean? I thought I was going to have a job.” He said, “You have a job, but you’re probably going to owe me about $1 million by the time I get done with you.” I said, “Really?” He said, “Yes, In the next six months, before you get your license, I’m going to teach you everything you don’t need to know on how to be a millionaire.” He says, “I’m going to send you a bill.”

Really? He did? What did you say to that?

I was blown away. I said, “This guy’s cocky as can be. He’s a son of a gun.” I sat next to him, and I’ll never forget that the phone had a winding cord. I picked up the phone and called people, and I would set it down. I would read the next lead, and he bought leads for me and gave them to me. He said, “Call these millionaires.” “Call these executives.”

I’m calling people, and I would get hung up hundreds of times a day. I’m told no hundreds of times a day, and I slammed the phone on me. As time went on, he would say, “Mike, you’re not working hard enough.” I said, “What do you mean? I’m here from 7:00 AM until almost 10:00 PM every day.” He said, “You’re not working hard enough and that’s why you’re not doing good enough.” I was doing good, but not enough for him. He wanted to make sure that I stretched myself.

What does that mean, “Work hard enough?”

He taped my hand to the phone with duct tape so I couldn’t set it down. Remember, it was a handset, the old days, with the cord. Duct tape around the phone, around the receiver, means that if I went to set it down, it would be awkward. He made sure that I kept the phone in my hand. He said, “Mike, from now on, you keep this phone right here. This is unemployed. This is employed.

For people reading, Mike is setting his hand down to hang up the phone, that’s unemployed, then up out to his ear, is employed.

What happened was he said, “From now on, don’t ever hang up the phone in this office or you’re fired.” I said, “I’ll do that.” What I would do is press the button to hang up, then dial the next number with my left hand, and make the next call. My phone calls went from 200 dials a day to 400 dials a day, just like that. I was giving him 15 people a day that said, “Yes, I would hear a stock idea.”

How long did it take you to get good at navigating the scripts and not getting hung up on so much?

Less than 3 or 4 weeks or so. I became pretty good at it and probably one of the best cold callers in the whole office.

Thanks to him or because of some natural talent you had?

It is because of him. I followed his instructions. He said, “Only say this. Don’t say anything else.” That was it. He just said, “Don’t ask him anything else, don’t tell him anything else, read this. Get it memorized and do it correctly.” I kept handing him the leads and he never paid me anything. The whole time I worked there, I never made a penny at all. I finally passed my test.

You didn’t make any money for six months? How did you live?

I worked in other jobs, whatever I could on Sundays, evenings, whatever I could.

At any point during that six-month timeframe, were you like, “Why am I doing this?”

He kept his paycheck stubs on the wall. $100,000, $120,000 in January, $110,000 in February, $125,000 a month. I said, “How could that be?” When I heard him, he would say, “Listen, we’re buying Intel today. Send me $500,000.” The client would ask him, “Why? What’s going on?” “What’s happening with Intel?” “What are they doing?” He would say, “I don’t have time to explain all that. If I explain it to you, then I’m going to not be able to call other friends of yours and clients that I have, and they’re not going to make any money. I got to go, send the money.” You hang up on them and they would send the money. That’s how he became the number one producer in the office.

He didn’t sell it all. He just told them what to do. It was no sales. It was no customer service. No buyer was being correct or helping somebody understand or educate.

Correct, no education. Just follow my lead.

It was the raw desire in that person on the other end of the phone to go make money, and a person who lives in a money culture speaks with authority and says, “Do this.” Let me ask you this question. Did you ever think that that was like an abuse of authority or were you just like, “No, this is the way to make money?”

Here’s what I realized that he was a doctor of stocks. A doctor tells you what to do. A doctor says, take these pills and then don’t take them with food and don’t eat any more of this or cut out the coffee or exercise and call me back in two weeks. He writes your prescription. He sends you out of the office. He was a doctor.

How do you reconcile that with the fact that stockbrokers don’t know what they’re doing?

It is because I would read something and it wouldn’t stay in my mind because I didn’t like the content. If it was going to be about animals, I probably would have retained it. I couldn’t retain the information. I couldn’t memorize it. I couldn’t study it long enough without getting distracted. I don’t know if it’s a reading problem or whatever, but whatever it is, because I love animals.

I was about to call you like you’re not the Wolf of Wall Street. You’re like the Jaguar of Wall Street because you have a jaguar. I want to get into your animal stuff because you have an unfair advantage in life. It’s your exotic animals. How did you do your first month?

When I first got my license, I had already been well-trained because it took me so long to pass the test. I had been practicing so long. The only thing I could not do was ask the client to send in the money. I could ask them how much money they had. I could ask them if they had an IRA. I could ask them if they had a 401k plan. I could ask them if they have other stocks somewhere else, but I could not ask for the order.

It’s the only thing missing, but that would have been easy for me because I was already used to not only getting told no but also asking hard questions like, how much cash do you have to invest in stocks right now? It’s the same thing for real estate investing. Since I was able to have all those skills before I passed the test, when I passed the test the first month, I made $13,000 in my pocket and I couldn’t believe it.

$13,000, that’s half a year’s pay for a busboy or a waiter. I knew I was on the right track. In the second month, I made $26,000, and then every month after that, I never fell below that. Getting up into the $80,000 a month and $100,000 a month. That’s when I realized that I’ll never want to go back to working for someone a nine-to-five job ever again. That guy finally cut me loose.

Did he send you a bill? He didn’t?

He should have.

Would you have paid it if he did?

No. He was a son of a gun, tough guy. I got to work in the same office he did for a while. I was in a big giant room with 200 people and he’s in his own glass office and you see him walking back and forth, just screaming at people and you could hear him, even being in the office with the door closed. It was so loud that he was overbearing to everyone else in the whole office out of 200 people. I ended up hiring assistants to help me and they were the ones that had to get my clients on the phone for me and hand me the phone.

I didn’t call anybody myself anymore. I didn’t have to place any orders myself. I had runners running tickets back and forth to the trading desk and I was able to do a big volume. Sometimes, I would have $50,000 in one day where I would have 50 clients who bought 1000 shares of Intel at $43 that day, and then, three days later, we’d sell it at $46. They’d make $3,000 in a couple of days. I would make my commission, they’d make theirs, and we made a lot of money for a lot of people and had a lot of fun.

Transitioning Out Of Being A Stockbroker

What was it that helped you transition out of being a stock broker? We’ve talked a little bit about it. Was it because you are just kind of tired of the lifestyle? How long did you do it?

When I finally got my own branch office, that means that my pay rate went up from 30% payout to 90% payout as a franchise owner. I went ahead and trained 200 brokers, which wasn’t my favorite thing to do because I had to train people again.

Did you train them like that guy who trained you?

Similar. Which is to stay on the phone but I was nice about it. I was a fun boss.

You weren’t a son of a gun.

No, fun boss. We did very well. We did a lot of big numbers there, but I also noticed that a lot of my clients still had their IRA somewhere else at a self-directed firm, meaning that they were able to use it for real estate. As I learned more about it, I went ahead and opened up my real estate IRA. I moved to Florida, where I was trading my top clients’ accounts.

I was trading maybe 100 clients and still making a very good lifestyle. I moved to Miami. I started to enjoy the lifestyle of Miami, having fun going to the beach, going to parties, having fun as a young guy, and spending all my money. I went to the Bahamas on jets and flew to the Atlantis, staying there for three days and making $400,000 or $500,000 a year.

What’s the point of having the money if you’re not using it for wild things like that?

If I knew better now, I would have kept all that. With all of the alcohol and all of the girls, I regret all the alcohol.

Yes, your older self regrets the choices of your younger self.

I’m kidding. Anyway, learning that from my wealthy clients, they did way better in real estate and they did it tax-free is what triggered me to say that I need to be in real estate and you’d be raising the same amount of money, but in the real estate deals.


Cocktails and Dreams Real Estate Podcast | Michael Poggi | Wealth Creation


Was it a clean break when you left that?

Yes, it was pretty easy. I sold my book to clients. Not the firm because it was a rented office. I just sold my book, and they gave me enough money to get started in real estate. I ended up immediately getting my real estate and mortgage license. I also got an insurance adjusters license as well. I used all three. I helped people get loans and get paid. I helped people find properties, but I also helped people who were investors get properties. Instead of starting with buyers or sellers, I skipped that. The reason why I skipped it is because I found a mentor in that office, too. I went to the real estate office, got my license, and did the same thing. I said, “Who in here is making the most money? That’s who I want to sit next to.”

Same thing I did in the stock brokerage firm. I sat next to the top producer in the real estate office. He had been there for probably 30 years. He was getting ready to retire and I said, “Please don’t retire yet. I want to be your apprentice for a little while. I’ll do whatever you need me to do, but I want to follow you around. I want to listen to every negotiation and I want to do it exactly the way you do it.” He showed me that working with investors would speed up the process of being a superstar realtor.

He said, “Mike, if you spend time showing a house to a buyer or seller, you’re going to have them and make a commission one time, probably not for a long time or maybe never. However, if you start with investors right from the beginning, you will save so much time and energy that you will be able to outperform any other realtor in the office if you stick with investors.”

If you spend time showing a house for a buyer or seller, you'll only make a commission once or maybe never. However, focusing on investors from the start saves you so much time and energy that you'll outperform any other realtor in the office. Share on X

I started going to real estate investment groups nearby, all the local ones, and all the local REAs. At those REAs, I found people that had money. Some had $200,000, some had $100,000, some had $50,000, but you get the idea. From that, I was able to bring them ideas of maybe a house for sale that was for sale in a foreclosure or a short sale or at a discount.

I would present it to them and say, “If I could find you a good deal and it had a lot of margin in it and we can make money together, would you partner with me?” Sure enough, I found people who didn’t have the skills that I had. Remember, I worked in construction. I had the skills of knowing what to get done, how to put up drywall, how to do all that stuff. I started to buy houses and use their money.

Partner with your clients rather than just make a commission. You had a much bigger vision. We’ve seen a lot of that in our organization, too. It’s so nice to hear you say it and confirm what we’ve been saying for real estate agents for a long time. I realized that very quickly when I got into the real estate game, I was like, “This is a much greater return on my time by working with investors, it’s a lot less emotional. It’s just more about does the property makes money.”

To serve those clients that guided you into learning zoning, better financing tactics, and better deal structuring tactics. I remember the first time I thought I was so smart because I was trying to save a deal and the buyer couldn’t get the loan. I was like, “Let’s see if the seller will carry the loan back.” I didn’t realize that was a thing and it is, but I was having these aha moments because I didn’t have a mentor.

The reason why I’m still figuring out what I want to do when I grow up is that I had to figure it all out on my own. I just would not stop. I’m relentless, but I can see the value of mentors. I truly can see the slingshot that a great mentor will provide you. I probably was a little hardheaded, too, where you seem to be more humble. Your brother said, “Go do this.” You’re like, “Yes.”

I follow what I’m told to do.

I don’t. I question what I’m told to do. My dad and I had an issue with that when I turned 18. He would tell me to do something and I would want to know why, not because I was resisting his authority, but because I truly wanted to know the logic and reason behind it because I learned that way, but not so great with mentors and not so great with a dad who grew up by doing what you’re told without asking questions.

That was his philosophy and I had to adopt that philosophy, but it didn’t necessarily serve me. When I tried to serve myself, he and I had some issues. Of course, we get along great, my dad and I are great buddies. We love and respect our differences. He’s my cigar-smoking buddy and I like to have a glass of scotch with my dad. He turned into a different man after he retired. He was just a stressed-out guy working shift work at a power plant. I’ll never forget when he retired, he just chilled out.

He’s a mellow marshmallow now?

I wouldn’t call him a marshmallow, but I’d call him mellow. It’s nice to have that relationship with your dad like you did. It’s great to have that influence in your life and mentors in general. I regret maybe not being able to listen to people more when I was younger because people would say that you need to do this. Many of the things that people told me to do were wrong, though.

Just like the old, “Go get a job.” “Go work overtime.” “Go put money in mutual funds.” I was like, “No, there’s a better way.” I just had to read books and people would even tell me, “You read way too many books, you just need to go get a job.” I’m like, “No, there’s a better way.” I don’t know, for me, I’ve always tried to serve people.

By serving like your brother, I enjoyed seeing people move through a transition in their lives. That gives me joy. I started as an entertainer and never realized that I love to entertain because there’s so much sadness in the world and we need so often to just forget about our problems for a minute. I love laughter.

That’s why you’re friends with Shannon, aren’t you? You like Shannon because he’s a clown. He’s awesome.

He was the first friend I made in Branson.

He told me about how you are pretty good at entertaining. He gave me a little bit of the update. That’s fantastic.

I had a great entertainment career. I moved to Los Angeles as an actor, and I had an agent and a manager. I auditioned for the Groundling School in Los Angeles, where they farm actors for Saturday Night Live and I passed. You can only audition twice in six months and if you fail, they won’t let you in the school. For every class that you take, your instructor has to recommend you to pass. Otherwise, they kick you out of the school.

I made it into the advanced class, the one where they learned to write for Saturday Night Live. This was in 2005, right before the market crashed. I was working as a national account executive for a mortgage bank. Kickin’ butt with my sales numbers because as long as I could make some sales and get some loans in, they didn’t care if I was gone for a two-hour lunch break to go audition for a Sargento cheese commercial.

When the market crashed, I’ll never forget the day. It was October 2005 when, all of a sudden, the inbound call stopped and it became an outbound call business. All of a sudden, they’re asking, “Where’s Worley? He’s not, he’s not putting up the numbers.” I made it into the advanced classes and I ran out of money.

I had realized that I didn’t want to drag my wife and now we had a daughter at that point. The entertainment world is tough because there’s a lot of schmoozing and I’m not a schmoozer. I didn’t want to go schmooze with people who I didn’t know and didn’t care about. I wanted to get off work to go home to my daughter and go home to my wife. That’s where my happiness is.

When I was in college, I met Kelly there; she was just my good friend. I was bussing tables at a restaurant and I would hate it when I would get to work and I would find out that I was the only busser because it meant I had to work my butt off because I had to finish the restaurant and close it in time to get home and call her on the phone. There were no cell phones back then. She was my friend.

I just had to have enough time to call her on the phone before it was 11:00 because if it was past 11:00, it was too late socially to call a girl. If I could get home at 10:30, I could just call her and say, “Buddy, how are you? What’s going on?” I just wanted to hear the sound of her voice. That’s what made me the best busboy in the state of Missouri for a while there because I just wanted to see her. That was my driving force.

I’ve never really had that driving force for money. Money to me has always meant many bad things. It always meant you didn’t care about people because, honestly, listening to the story about this man changed your life and gave you great opportunities. The good in my opinion, that came out of that is that you got to learn all that and you’re a kind and generous man who does quality and good things with his money. Money is not bad. In the right hands, money is extremely powerful.


Cocktails and Dreams Real Estate Podcast | Michael Poggi | Wealth Creation


I think I value more the act itself, but like no charity can operate with it unless somebody is providing money even in my faith-based opinions, I think some people are the hands and feet of God and some people are the wallet of God. If I can’t go to China to be a missionary, I can finance that mission and I’m doing just as much good for the kingdom.

I think maybe one of the reasons why I haven’t had some of the biggest successes yet is because money and I still have boxing matches all the time. Did you ever experience that? It just seems like you have a much more black-and-white philosophy when it comes to making money because I look at a guy like you. You are extremely successful. Like I said, you know how to make money. There’s not a lot of negotiation in what you do. It’s like this is going to work or it doesn’t work. Did you have any issues with money?

I only had issues when I failed at something. For example, along the way there, in the middle, I was able to buy a Sun Tan salon chain. I was trying to duplicate what my mom and dad did. I bought 21 Sun Tanning salons throughout Florida. They were popular and they still are. They’re still very successful, but for the ones that I bought, I negotiated with the seller to have a seller hold a note.

That helped a lot and I borrowed money from the SBA, used some of my funds, and acquired 21 Sun Tanning salons over two years. Very fast. Instead of taking fifteen years, the way that I learned, I was able to do it faster because I knew everything about lease negotiation and negotiating with sellers of Sun Tanning salons. The salons all netted around maybe $40,000 each, maybe $50,000 or $60,000 for some of the better ones. You’re looking at 21 Sun Tanning salons all netting $40,000 a year. It was not a bad day, and that was with me not even being in the salons.

Did you just have systems that worked or did you hire the right employees?

My brother helped me with the people. I knew that he would cover me there. He was an expert and great at it. My job was just acquisitions, but then Hurricane Wilma came around and wiped me out. I lost all of them. I lost everything and lost $4.5 million of value.

No insurance money?

Insurance doesn’t cover hurricanes. They’ll cover fire, they’ll cover slip and fall, regular liability, but when it comes to something that big, they don’t cover that. In addition, while you’re closed because of the hurricane, you have no electricity, no cameras, and no way to monitor who’s coming in and out. Sure enough, most of the employees, and their boyfriends would come in with them and steal the money, the computers, the clothes, the swimwear, and the lotions.

Cocktails and Dreams Real Estate Podcast | Michael Poggi | Wealth Creation
Wealth Creation: Insurance doesn’t cover all hurricane damage. While it covers wind damage, flooding, which is often a significant part of hurricane damage, requires a separate flood insurance policy.


Everything got stolen, and there was no way to track it. They would just come in with the key. For me to drive to all 21 locations and try to change all the locks, when I needed them to come in there anyway, they had to come in there and clean up all the water. There was water in every single room, and the front windows were broken. There was water leaking from the ceilings into the tanning beds, so you can’t turn them on. There is no electricity anyway. I had to pay the employees, the managers by law, they had to have their salaries paid.

Plus, they’re stealing from you.

We don’t know who, but it could have been a regular employee or a manager. While that was happening, I started getting phone calls from customers who had tanning packages and wanted a refund because they were going to a competitor in a bigger shopping center that had a generator.

They would go to a bigger shopping center where they had a big giant grocery store that had a generator and the salon was open up within a week, whereas mine was closed because of no electricity no generator and lots of damage from the roof. We had to have restoration clean all that stuff out of there. I ended up having to pay back $480,000 worth of refunds. I did that out of my cash and I did it on my credit cards to keep the business open and I had to pay $80,000 a month in rent.

How’d you get out of that business?

I filed for bankruptcy. I had to, I had no other choice. That’s one of my embarrassing moments. There’s no way to recover from it. I lost $4,500,000 out the door, and all the employees were friends of my brothers and me. They were like your people here. They loved me the way they loved you. It was heartbreaking to have to lose all that. Stuff happened.

Getting Into Real Estate

How did you then recover? Is that when you started getting more into real estate?

I immediately started building houses and flipping houses, and I did everything I could to find private money. I started speaking on stage everywhere I could going to every single real estate event within an hour’s drive and started to have a builder build houses for me. Started to buy properties that had passive income and hire management companies to manage those.

Then, when the crash hit in 2008, my father and I purchased fifteen properties together. We lost all fifteen during the crash. It’s a second debacle, but during all of that, my IRA, which is protected from bankruptcy and creditors, stayed afloat, and that’s what kept me going. I couldn’t use it for living expenses, but I was able to maintain some sense of net worth.

You could build wealth tax-free so your future was secure.

All I had was the IRA to use.

That explains a lot, Michael, because you have all these advanced strategies for building wealth within your IRA and this vacant lot strategy is such a great buy-and-hold strategy for an IRA. Above that, you had a knack for buying on terms and selling on terms and taking the margin. That’s what you teach in the live events and some of your webinars. How can somebody get a hold of you? How can they get onto one of your webinars and learn these tactics from you so they can use buy-and-hold strategies?

They can either email me or maybe even text me, and I can then put them on our invitation list so I can invite them to a webinar. We’ve been running webinars pretty much every week, usually on a Tuesday night from 7:00 to 8:30 PM which is Eastern time zone, Florida time. We discuss how to buy quarter-acre buildable vacant lots in fast-growing resort communities. Then if someone wants to do it tax-free, instead of using their LLC or instead of using their name, they can do it in an IRA. We teach them how to use an IRA where 99% of the time, the IRA is full of stocks or full of mutual funds, or just cash sitting there. We help a lot of people every month.

I went down and I evaluated those lots. I looked at them and I think it’s a great strategy. It’s a great buy-and-hold strategy. You’ve helped me roll over my IRAs and I’m looking for the right lots just because I’m a little nerdy. I want to be sure that they have A, B, and C, but that’s not a great buy-and-hold strategy. I think I am looking to build on them, which would be a different strategy than somebody wanting to buy and hold.

With everything that’s going on in Bella Vista and how fast it’s growing even now, I still think that the whole community is a great place to stick some cash. I still think your system is phenomenal. We had some people at our event sign up to take these webinars, and I’ve been a part of some of your webinars. They’re extremely informative, and you are a great mentor to people who want to build wealth through vacant lots, through their IRAs or not. Thank you for doing what you do. You’re helping a lot of people grow some wealth.

Thank you.

Before we get off, I just want to say that in this entire story, there’s something that people don’t know about you yet. It’s this unfair advantage you have with the exotic animals in your life. You’ve told me some awesome stories about these exotic animals. You just drive around with them, or you have them. You have all kinds of different monkeys.

Animal Buddies

You can talk about that in just a second, but it seems like of all the times in your life when you’ve gotten significant attention from investors, celebrities, and women, it’s all because you were driving around with a Lynx or you just have these exotic animals. You did tell me, and I thought it was really special. You said that when you grew up, there weren’t a lot of kids and friends. The animals were your buddies. You have a real affinity for animals. Talk to us a little bit about your animals.

We grew up out in the country, South suburbs of Illinois, south of Chicago, about an hour away. We had five acres, and we were probably one of the few houses within miles. My mom and dad put us there to stay away from the big city and keep us out of trouble. All we had was ducks, geese, goats, pigeons, pheasants, and stuff like that.

Four wheeling and fishing and everything. I grew up in this atmosphere out here. That’s why when I come here, I just feel so at ease. I love it here, by the way. One of my other beginning jobs was to work as an assistant veterinarian. What I did was I got a chance to work with a veterinarian that handled zoo animals. Instead of just cats and dogs, he handled the Michigan City Zoo animals. When I went to college at Valparaiso University in Indiana, a veterinarian hired me as a technician.

I have to be in surgeries with them every day, and we declaw on a tiger, spay or neuter on a lion, an alligator, a deer, or all that stuff. Most of those animals needed nurturing before they went back out to the wild or before they went back to the zoo. My job is to keep an eye on them and make sure they get their medication. I decided that I wanted to be involved in animals but not as a veterinarian where I had to deal with animals dying most of the time.

I got a chance to start rehabilitating animals. I started taking in monkeys, raccoons, foxes, lemurs and everything. Right now, we have a big facility in Florida where we rescue exotic animals, but no cats or dogs. We rescue only exotic animals. I get a chance to spend time with some of them where some of them are pregnant when we get them and they have a baby and we then can nurture that baby and they become our companions.

I know you do care about the animals for you. You have enough money, it’s just more about the joy for animals. Having a way to finance your love and care for them.

It’s expensive to take care of all those animals, especially the ones that come in as a rescue that need medical attention. Medical bills are expensive and food is expensive. We can at least cover that cost.

Is there anything else before we go that you just want to share with people, or are there any wisdom nuggets? Anything else that you just think might be significant or that you’d like to tell people about, maybe it’s something you’re working on or just anything.

We touch on how I learned how to help people without really knowing much about the product. Now, at my older age, I’m more like you. I do care about knowing exactly what I’m doing. When I recommend something to someone, it’s because I’ve studied it and I know it inside and out. When I help people, it’s because I genuinely care about them and their net worth. I care about helping them grow just like I did. I don’t mind giving the details and the facts. Now, I spend time with them and make sure they know everything about the land or the real estate deals so that they are 100% comfortable without just asking them for the money. It’s changed a lot over the years.

You’re a good dad, husband, friend, and mentor to a lot of people. Thank you so much. I am so grateful for spending this time with you and for coming and speaking at our local event here and sowing into the lives of our real estate team and all the investors that came. I can’t thank you enough. I appreciate it.

I appreciate your friendship because you took me under your wing the day you met me. It was love at first sight. I appreciate that. You always have a friend here. If I can do anything to help you anytime you can call on me and I’ll climb over mountains to get here.

Thank you. Appreciate that. Thanks for being here with us on this episode.

A big thank you for reading until the end. I know your time is valuable and I hope you got a few takeaways that are going to help you get a greater return on that time. I know you will and if you did enjoy it, I’d sure appreciate a share or a comment. Feel free to subscribe for instant access to new episodes and offers. There’s also a ton of free content and ways to learn more and engage more at Until then, we’ll continue to bring you recipes for success and real stories from real people who like you are living out your divine purpose and God loves you. No matter what happens, don’t give up.


Important Links


About Michael Poggi

Cocktails and Dreams Real Estate Podcast | Michael Poggi | Wealth CreationMICHAEL POGGI Published Author, National Speaker, Real Estate and Alternative Investment Spearhead Michael Poggi, the founder of and Poggi Wealth Institute, has been the industry’s leading authority in alternative wealth-building strategies. Michael Poggi is a nationally recognized public speaker and professional investor, developer and author. Michael speaks on how to buy real estate and invest in many other venues using your IRA or old 401K plan through the power of self directing it. In fact, he shows people how they can transform their IRA’s and 401K’s into completely self managing money making machines, creating cash flow monthly and TAX FREE. He also runs a private equity group that funds projects all over the world. In addition, Mr. Poggi is the President and Founder of The Millionaires Investment Group, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. You can find Michael as a featured guest on the Money Talk radio shows. His company, Build Wealth With Land, LLC, is one of the largest land providers in the U.S., providing hundreds of secure vacant lots yearly to investors and builders. And amazingly, Michael does all of this legally Tax Free!