Sunday, May 25, 2008

Scott Gonyeo

Scott Gonyeo:

Freedom through Real Estate Investing

I was once told, “Mentors find you, not the other way around.” That is what happened to me with Scott Gonyeo. Earlier this year I met and befriended his nephew Shaun Walker. After becoming good friends, Shaun introduced me to his uncle Scott whom he works with on a variety of real estate and business ventures. In fact, I can recall the first time we met quite vividly. Probably because it was only about two months ago…

Scott took Shaun and me out to lunch in Geneseo at the Big Tree Inn. We seemed to get along quite well and he was pretty impressed by The VIP Profiles. What interested me about him was his vision and passion for real estate and deal making. The man seemed to be a magnet for success. His lifestyle mimicked, almost to a “T,” that of the first book which inspired the entrepreneur in me, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki. That evening I remember going home and saying, “I would rather scrub toilets for this guy than take any corporate job.”

And then it happened. The next day I received an unsolicited phone call from my friend Shaun, saying Scott wanted to have a conference call at 3 PM. He said, “Are you available?” I replied, “Absolutely.” The 3 PM call lasted seven minutes. Scott works fast. He invited me into the empire.

Scott began his career in property management for Conifer Realty LLC in their affordable housing business. After Home Properties purchased some of Conifer’s businesses, Scott worked with them until he decided it was time to quit his day job. Some Russ Whitney real estate investment training and the equivalent of a year’s pay in the bank, Scott left Home Properties to pursue financial freedom through real estate investing. Now, I am blessed with the opportunity to learn from this man. The following is Scott’s recount of his life’s pursuits! ~JWN

VIP: What is your definition of success?

SG: “GLIFS” is my personal acronym which means: God; Love; Integrity; Fun; and Success. When I recognize God wants us all to be happy; when I have someone I Love to share my life with; when everything I do is done transparently with Integrity, then everything I do is Fun…then I am Successful. Money and things pour out of these thoughts, actions, deeds but do not “drive the bus” for me. They are not my motivators. Check out for a great daily perspective from my new best friend Michael Chriswell in Orlando…

VIP: What is your current occupation and what has your career path looked like?

SG: I am a real estate investor, developer and mentor. Some describe me as a “Serial Entrepreneur” as I’ve never met a new business venture I didn’t like. I’m thinking of having new business cards made that give me a title of “Empire Builder” though this may come off as to egotistical to others. My thought and chief goal in life is “To serve others in ever increasing numbers” or to help OTHERS build their personal empires; whether that means financially, spiritually or however they define their goals.

VIP: What are some influential books you’ve read?

SG: There have been so many but “Rich Dad Poor Dad” and all the Kiyosaki books helped me see the fork in my road that pulled me out of my corporate treadmill. “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsh opened up my mind spiritually. “4- Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss is challenging me to rethink being a serial entrepreneur to focus more on a few of my key businesses that I can develop into passive income streams, leaving me more time to enjoy life, my family and helping others achieve their freedom.

VIP: Who are three people from any time period that you would like to meet?

SG: Jesus, though we have daily conference calls already so he may not count. Hugh Hefner, tons of great people stories in that man. He’s met them all. And, Donald Trump, to learn whatever he is willing to teach me. (Editor’s Note: Scott is currently a national speaker for Donald Trump’s mentoring company, Trump University. He speaks on Tax Liens and Deed Investing)

VIP: Who are a few people that have had a meaningful impact on your life?

SG: My parents of course were most influential in molding my work ethic and positive attitude towards life. My wife. She is my love and continues to teach me daily. My kids, who I love to watch and help grow. Shaun Walker, my own personal human Guinea Pig. He will one day be greater than I and he’ll do it sooner than I achieved anything. And the many other great folks who have mentored me, led me, pushed me and opened my mind.

VIP: What is your favorite candy bar?

SG: None. But I’m an absolute Starburst Jelly Bean FREAK. My wife has to buy me a case every Easter. Sadly it’s now the end of May and this year’s stash is gone…I’ll be jones’in till next Easter, bummer.

VIP: What is your “average” day like?

SG: Haven’t had an “average” day since I quit my day job and became a full time Real Estate Investor in 2004. All my days are now EXCEPTIONAL. My days are filled with positive, energizing, like-minded people who pursue their dreams inspite of the naysayers surrounding them.

VIP: What got you into real estate investing? What are some of your near term and mid term
goals with your pursuits?

SG: Bought my first rental property in college. It was a little single family house I rented to my buddies. Got my first job out of college in property management and got sucked into the corporate vortex for 21 years. Then I bought some books, tapes, courses and mentoring from a Real Estate guru. That last piece finally made the difference. Got the education first, then had someone show me how to apply that knowledge.

Near term ventures:

  • Building 90 unit senior apartment complex with Fed and State Tax Credits, looking for the next site.
  • Operate 3 self storage properties, looking for the 4th one
  • Consulting on real estate projects for others
  • Partnering on fund raising for other developers
  • Resort development in Costa Rica
  • Launching a new real estate investor club ( with plans for 15 more across the United States
  • Teaching real estate investing for 3 companies; one being Trump University
  • Investing in real estate through government tax foreclosure auctions across the United States

Mid term ventures:

  • Consolidate all the above so I only have to work 4 hours a week (thanks Tim Ferriss!).

VIP: What is your “secret to success?”

SG: Help others achieve their goals. Always think Win-Win. Work hard but smart and with integrity. Always ask God for help.

VIP: Tell me a little bit about your family…

SG: My dad passed two days before my last day of my day job. It was very sudden and very sad. But now looking back, I realize he went to Heaven to work behind the scenes to help me achieve my dreams over the past 3 ½ years. It’s been an unbelievable run. Mom does well in her circle of activities and friends and will always be a success story. My sister struggles with life at times, but always ends up on top. My wife is the rock in my life, the touchstone to reality and sanity in my insane world. My kids are the cherry on top of my life of ice cream. Shaun…well, what can I say? He’s a great friend and partner.

VIP: Where did you grow up?

SG: I was an Air Force brat. So, everywhere. I finished Junior High and High School in Penfield.

VIP: If you could create anything with the snap of your fingers, what would it be?

SG: Instant awareness of the universe around and within us right now.

VIP: Or, if you could instill one bit of knowledge into everybody, what might that be?

SG: Wake up people, this life is a great experiment we should consciously explore and enjoy, not wallow in.

VIP: What advice would you give a recent college graduate?


VIP: Your peer group?


VIP: People in general?

SG: Same as above. Isn’t it obvious by now?

A final note…

SG: Thanks for the opportunity to share with you and your readers and for the opportunity to become your mentor. Together we will help many people in ever increasing numbers. This is “What’s In It For Me” through you…

Editor’s Note: “Thank you for your generosity of time and resources Scott. I look forward to learning with you and making things happen together!” ~JWN