Property Investory
Rob Flux on Going From a Lawnmower to an Outright Owner at 24
September 21, 2022
Rob Flux is a property developer, educator, and mentor as well as founder of Australia’s largest property network group Property Developer Network. His personal and professional journeys have intertwined throughout the years, starting from purchasing his family home from his parents as a teenager to starting Property Developer Network through a conversation with friends sharing their property experiences.
In this episode Flux details his life that has been a flurry of activity, taking him from Darwin to Brisbane and keeping 44 countries alive— all while flying under the radar. In pressing the ‘reset’ button on his life in his 30s, his property journey and ultimate goal of financial freedom suddenly seemed out of reach, but Flux is no stranger to resilience. After spending a down payment on an education that ended up teaching him nothing he needed to know, he realised how his previous lives had always been leading him to where he wanted to go.

01:30 | Turning a Negative Into a Positive
08:17 | The Honour System
11:31 | And Then…
13:55 | From TV to IT
18:51 | Data Tells the Story
23:09 | NT to QLD
26:16 | From Lawnmower to Owner in 30 Minutes
28:31 | Take Two


00:10 | A Bigger Portfolio Isn’t Always Better
02:56 | Error… Error…
07:48 | Investor vs. Developer
12:50 | Thinking Ahead
17:23 | Power in Numbers
22:10 | Be a GPS
30:11 | It’s a Two Part-er
33:48 | Hiding in Plain Sight

Resources and Links:

Rob Flux:
[00:28:31] So at the age of 38, I no longer owned my house, and was having to start again. And so I had that 20 years of investing. And the second time around, I didn't want to take 20 years to do it again. And so that's when I started on my property development journey. 


Tyrone Shum:
This is Property Investory where we talk to successful property investors to find out more about their stories, mindset and strategies.
I’m Tyrone Shum and in this episode we’re speaking with Rob Flux, head of the largest property networking group in Australia called Property Developer Network. In sharing both his personal and professional journeys he explains the mindset that allowed him to acquire his first property at 18 and pay it off at 24, and illustrates the talk he gave his parents that changed his life forever.



Turning a Negative Into a Positive

Tyrone Shum:   
Flux has worked hard to attain financial freedom, and is passionate about educating and coaching others to achieve the same goal. However, financial freedom hasn’t slowed him down one bit— in fact, it may have evern spurred him on more. As well as running Property Developer Network, he runs four additional businesses and has a fifth in the works.

Rob Flux:   
[00:01:30] I'm one of those people that [is] restless, and I'm always wanting to do stuff. 
[00:01:35] Between running those businesses, I have a combination of mentoring calls, I have a combination of preparing and running property networking events. We run a bulk purchasing power card for all of our member community, and still running some deals. 
[00:01:53] So I guess when I put all of that together, plus a software platform that we're putting together from a space, so five businesses, not four. So it's busy, mate. Very busy.

Tyrone Shum:    
He certainly has a lot on his plate, but it’s made easier by the fact that all of his businesses are within the same realm, which he sees as one of two main keys to success.

Rob Flux:   
[00:03:21] They're very complementary, very symbiotic. So each business runs in its own right, but they benefit from each other. But the way I do that is by having an awesome team that sits around me. I've got 11 staff that work with me, scattered all the way around the country and overseas. And I guess the power of delegation, mate, that's really the key to this.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:03:44] Totally, totally. And I agree with you. You need a team, you can't do everything yourself. And it's usually the question is 'who', rather than how you do it. At the end of the day, you've got to figure out who's going to be able to help you on that side of things.

Rob Flux:   
[00:03:55] That's one of the best pieces advices that you will ever get. ''Who' rather than 'how''.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:04:01] Have you read the book from Dan Sullivan, or have the book from Dan Sullivan? Who [Not] How?

Rob Flux:   
[00:04:05] No, I haven't. And I guess this is where I own up to your audience that I'm partially dyslexic, so I don't read a lot. So a lot of my world comes from real world lived experience, and the lessons learnt from that. 
[00:04:20] I try to learn from others and mistakes that others make, rather than reading books. And I find that by doing that, I can actually apply my knowledge really fast. And like you said, who not how. Who's the person that's gonna get me the knowledge the fastest? 

Tyrone Shum:   
Dyslexia is just one of the struggles Flux has faced in his life, which started in Darwin in the Northern Territory. After living there for 33 years, he felt the itch in his feet and made the jump interstate.

Rob Flux:   
[00:05:26] I went through Cyclone Tracy. So we had all of our house destroyed in that piece. The house was eight months old when it got knocked over. And I spent three years living in a caravan underneath the floorboards of the house, having a shower through a garden hose behind a corrugated iron curtain, and a whole bunch of things like that. 
[00:05:49] So I kind of came up with a really harsh upbringing. Not through anything that my parents created, but just the circumstances. And so that kind of forged the foundation for me to say, 'I never want to go through that again'. 
[00:06:07] And the house that that we grew up in, as I said, was eight months old, [so it] wasn't insured. So Mum and Dad lost everything. That set them up for a life of hardship from there to try and pay back that loan [and] go into the next house. 
[00:06:25] And so I was really, really, really determined to not have that happen to me. And to make sure that everything I did was gonna set me up for success.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:06:36] Wow, I'm sorry to hear that. That's quite challenging. Do you remember what age that was roughly? 

Rob Flux:   
[00:06:41] [I was] five. 
[00:06:43] I guess as a kid, you don't really think about the hardship. You don't know any different. So it's not a negative, it's actually a positive. I had a great life. 
[00:07:00] One of the fun facts that you have from a cyclone: Cyclone Tracy hit [on] Christmas Eve, for those who aren't aware. And so one of the fun facts is that we would find toys strewn all through the neighbourhood. And I had a Tonka truck that I that I dug out of the mud in my backyard, that became a toy for me. So there's fun things that can happen from it. But it wasn't my present, it was someone else's, but I'm sure that they enjoyed mine.

The Honour System

Tyrone Shum:   
Although school returned after Cyclone Tracy, Flux’s primary school had been shut down. This forced him and his classmates to join the high school campus, though the primary school’s library still saw its share of visitors.

Rob Flux:   
[00:08:17] I would walk past my primary school every morning in order to get to where we were having primary [school]. 
[00:08:23] And the library that we went past, there was a giant hole in the side of the wall. And I remember that on the way home every day, we would walk through the hole in the wall, borrow a book out of the library, go home, read it, come back the next morning and just throw it through the hole in the wall and return it. It wasn't like the books were living on shelves. They're all they're all strewn all over the place. We figured if we were returning it, we were never stealing it. So we still used it quite fondly.
[00:09:09] A lesson for everyone out there: Bad stuff happens. Okay? You can't change the fact that bad stuff's gonna happen. You can't avoid it. But the story that you give that and the power and the meaning that sits behind that is really what determines whether or not it's going to be something that inhibits you or enables you. 
[00:09:29] So for me, I look back at those things as an enabler. It's not something that is going to hold me back, but rather is going to [be] something that's going to power me and fuel me to actually say, 'Well, I'm not going to have that happen to me'. 

Tyrone Shum:   
The positive mindset he adopted at an early age has served him well in all areas of his life, including property. After he and his family moved into a new home after Cyclone Tracy, he used this way of thinking to get himself onto the property ladder at a young age.

Rob Flux:   
[00:10:16] I spent 25 years in the same house. I actually ended up buying that house off Mum and Dad. When I got to the age of 16 I went to work, I used to deliver catalogues, junk mail into your mailbox. [I] was a trolley pusher at Kmart. [I] saved up a lot of cash. And I was determined, as I said, to actually go out and buy my own house. 
[00:10:45] Mum and Dad were still in a little bit of financial challenges from their early days. They knew that they couldn't help me to actually do that. Except for a very creative thing that we came up with, which was: 'What if I bought the house off them?'. And then they could stay and pay me rent. That would get them out of some financial challenges and would also set me up. 
[00:11:08] So I was an 18 year old, bought my house off Mum and Dad. They were living with me, paying me rent. Mum was doing the cooking [and] the cleaning, I was being an 18 year old and going out and doing the things that 18 year olds do. Going out at seven o'clock at night and coming home at 7am in the morning and doing all the teenager type things. 

And Then…

Rob Flux:  
[00:11:31] And then one day Mum and Dad sat me down and went, 'Son, this life that you're having, this party life, it's probably not good for you'. And I distinctly remember the words coming out of my mouth. And it's a moment that I'll never forget. And I went, 'It's my house. It's my rules'. 
[00:11:52] Now, that moment changed my life. Because Mum and Dad looked at each other and they looked at their watch or they went, 'It's time for us to go'. And they moved out. 
[00:12:04] And all of a sudden I was looking after that mortgage by myself and having to be very responsible for myself. And that was just before the recession that we had to have. So 17 [and] 18 [and] 19% interest rates. And times were tough, mate. 
[00:12:23] So when we look at lessons learnt, I very quickly had to work out, 'How do I scramble to actually do this?' And I started subleasing rooms out. So I was doing, I guess what many people call HMOs or rent per room all the way back when I was about 19 and a half.

From TV to IT

Tyrone Shum:   
Although he was a typical 18 year old in terms of socialising and having fun, his focus on his goal never wavered. He continued his education after finishing high school by completing three trade certificates.

Rob Flux:   
[00:13:55] I did electronics repair, so TV, video repairs. Then I went into computer maintenance and computer hardware repairs and that sort of thing. So electronics trade, radio, TV mechanics, and computer maintenance were the three trades that I kind of accumulated. 
[00:14:17] Basically, in the TV world, I was fixing things down to the two cent component level, and then suddenly realised that the apprentice that I had trained up who moved over to IT was earning twice as much money as me, and he was just throwing boards away. And I was trying to fix things down to this two cent component level. 
[00:14:35] So I transitioned over to IT and had a 20 year IT career and ended up designing multimillion dollar data solutions for Virgin, for BHP, for Flight Centre, and a whole bunch of other people like that. So very, very long career in IT.
[00:15:12] I grew up with mobile phones that were like that. Netscape as a web browser. Like, the Internet was being formed as I grew up. So I've gone through the lot, mate.

Tyrone Shum:   
Despite being admittedly naive about his career options at the time, Flux knew where his interests and talents met. Choosing electronics repair was a sensible choice, but didn’t turn out to be as long-lived as he’d hoped.

Rob Flux:   
[00:16:12] And it was the advice from our parents: Work hard, do the things that you need to do. And so I did that, and then very quickly realised that that was a dying career, that the world was becoming disposable. And that electronics repair was not going to be a long term career. 
[00:16:33] That's when I decided to transition over to the IT world, where as I said, my apprentice was earning twice the wage as me doing half the work. And that's probably the smartest decision I ever did. And then I went back to university and got myself an IT degree. And that kind of set me up from there.

Tyrone Shum:   
In his IT career he designed systems and did a portion of what was called solutions architecture.

Rob Flux:   
[00:17:20] So I'd design anything from a cloud based solution to a data centre to disaster recovery solutions. Anything that had seven or more zeros on it was really the kind of work that I would work on. People that didn't need their stuff to stop working. And [we focused on] how do we build things that are completely redundant so that if something breaks, there's going to be something that actually takes over it. 
[00:17:49] Understanding data, data flow, you start to see that data actually tells you a story. And that has formed a lot of the foundations of what I do in my property world is understanding the data. And knowing that if you can read the data, it's like The Matrix. You start to see all the ones and zeros and you start to see patterns in the data. And when you see patterns in the data, that's going to give you the insights into how and what to do with that.

Data Tells the Story

Tyrone Shum:   
Flux was an architect of sorts in that he was dealing with data, which translates well to the world of property development.

Rob Flux:   
[00:18:51] It transitions really well. The number of people that we see in property development that have come from an IT background, because it's a very logical kind of process. Because it's less emotional, I guess we're not emotionally attached to the property. We're looking at the numbers and that tells us a story. 
[00:19:12] So a lot of people from that very... whether it be IT or otherwise, but if they come from a very systematic type approach in their normal career, they transition really well over to property development.

Tyrone Shum:   
Flux enjoyed working in the IT space as much as he does property, due to his innate ability to recognise and analyse data, and see problems as a puzzle to be solved. 

Rob Flux:   
[00:20:06] It's 'Don't be afraid of the problem, take on the problem. Solve the problem and see the success that comes out of that'.
[00:20:12] I have done major, major, major projects. So one of my biggest achievements [was at a] company called Flight Centre, I'm sure most people have heard of Flight Centre. 
[00:20:25] At the time, they were in 44 countries. Now, most people don't realise that they're that big. So my role was to move their data centre from one location to another location, 30 kilometres down the road, and keep 44 countries alive all at the same time. So trying to do that, and not have a system outage. 
[00:20:45] That's the kind of work where you have to really, really think about everything that you're doing. And the funny thing about that, and the sad thing all at the same time, is you get success at the end of the process, when nobody notices what you did. 
[00:21:05] If you have a failure, everybody notices what you do. And so at the end, I'm sitting in the room with my team, and everything's moved across. And there [were] no balloons, there was no fanfare, there was no confetti. And we [were like], 'Okay, well, I guess we're going to the pub'.
[00:21:59] It's because of that that I don't need a pat on the back from someone else. I get personal satisfaction because I know that I did a good job. And you don't need the glory, you don't need everybody seeing what you've done. You just know that job is [done] and I can drive past and I go, 'That's where it used to be. And that's where it is'. And in my mind I still get joy out of that nearly 20 years after having done that one project. Probably 15 years now, I should say. Because I know what I achieved, and I don't need the accolades of others.


Tyrone Shum:   
After spending the first 33 years of his life in Darwin, he jumped on an opportunity that came his way and made the move to Brisbane. 

Rob Flux:   
[00:23:09] When I moved to Brisbane, I found that it was a very similar kind of culture to Darwin, [it had a] very small hometown kind of vibe. It's not what you know, it's who you know, it's two degrees of separation. So  it's if I don't know you, then the person I know knows you. So you always have to do the right thing. You always have to have integrity and honesty. And if you make a mistake, you have to always fix it. 
[00:23:34] And when you move into a new town, it takes a lot of time to rebuild that reputation, because nobody knows you. But now that I have, I can't see me going anywhere. It's now grown up to be a big city, but it still has that small town vibe.

Tyrone Shum:   
Although the move wasn’t initially for his benefit, it worked out in one way— but not so much in another.

Rob Flux:   
[00:23:58] My wife at the time— [I'm] currently divorced— had a very senior role working for Optus in the Northern Territory. So she used to look after the Northern Territory Government contracts for Optus. They lost that contract. And so when Telstra took over the contract, she was given an offer to either have a redundancy or relocation. And we went, 'Well, if we take the relocation it's like having a free swing for a holiday to see whether or not we like this new place'. So we decided to do that. 
[00:24:33] Things didn't pan out in that department for her and I, but I guess from a location perspective, I'm very happy with the outcome.

Tyrone Shum:   
Returning to property, Flux fondly remembers the first mentor he had after he purchased his parents’ home. However, she likely isn’t aware of her influence.

Rob Flux:   
[00:25:25] I then read a book [by a] lady by the name of Jan Somers. So I guess one of the first educators in the property world. And indirectly, she became my mentor without having ever met her. And I would love to meet her at some stage. 
[00:25:45] The book was all about investing and negative gearing. And so I bought my first investment property at the age of 21. And I distinctly remember that I had no intention of buying that particular house on that particular day. 
[00:26:01] But I had this beautiful drive where I was that was an ocean drive. So every time I left my house, I would go via the ocean drive even though it was the long way out, because it was always a pretty way. And I saw a home open sign. 

From Lawnmower to Owner in 30 Minutes

Rob Flux:  
[00:26:16] And I walked in. I had just finished mowing the lawn. I was 21 years of age. I'm uncovered in lawn clippings. And I walked in, and the agent looked at me sheepishly and went, 'You're clearly not a buyer here'. And within half an hour, I'd put a deposit down and actually purchased my first investment property overlooking the ocean. 
[00:26:41] And at that stage, I didn't really know what I was doing. It was more that [I] was a local area expert, just from living there without actually being a property expert. And I guess I've got a whole bunch of good timing with regards to the market and that sort of thing. 
[00:27:01] And that made a massive return inside of about three years, which I then flipped, which then allowed me to own my first house outright with the one I bought at 18 by the age of 24.
[00:27:21] That first house was in a place called Rapid Creek, and the first investment property was in a place called Nightcliff. Overlooking the ocean and the Northcliff rocks, it's a gorgeous spot.

Tyrone Shum:   
He no longer has the property, though flipping it was the catalyst for what happened next and propelled him to where he is today. 

Rob Flux:   
[00:27:45] That allowed me to pay for the first house outright. So at 24, I was completely unencumbered. I just started purchasing a few more investment properties [using] negative gearing, which I did 20 years of negative gearing, and found that there are a lot of obstacles in that approach, given serviceability. You keep hitting glass ceilings with regards to what you can do. Do you have enough deposit? Those sorts of things. So [I] did very well out of that. 
[00:28:16] Mathematically, I was in a position where at the age of 38, I could retire. But regretfully, as I touched on before, got divorced at 37. So didn't quite hit that magic marker, and had to reset. 

Take Two

Rob Flux:  
[00:28:31] So at the age of 38, I no longer owned my house, and was having to start again. And so I had that 20 years of investing. And the second time around, I didn't want to take 20 years to do it again. And so that's when I started on my property development journey. 
[00:28:53] And in doing that, I spent a lot of time paying for a lot of educators and mentors out there. [I] found that many of them were more spruikers. They left you motivated to do something but didn't give you the how-to on what that something was. 
[00:29:13] And I guess having spent about $120,000 on my own personal education, [I] found that I still didn't know exactly what I needed to know. 
[00:29:24] And [I] had five mates that had a very similar experience. We all sat down together over a kitchen table and decided through the power of a masterminding process that we would try and help each other's projects move forward. And that then started to [give] me momentum [and] started to [give] them momentum. And as each mate invited a mate and they invited another mate, that slowly then [was] turned into what is now the largest property networking group in the country. So that's Property Developer Network. 
[00:29:56] And it's through that process that I got most of my learning, because you can only solve a problem through your own worldly experience. But when you mastermind with others, then you get the collective of the group. And you get the wisdom of the collective experience, and so [it is] much faster to accelerate. 
[00:30:17] 'Proximity is power' is a phrase that I would like to throw out there for your community. Hang around with people that are doing the things that you want to do.

Tyrone Shum:   
Flux started his property journey when he was young, and while it’s served him well, it doesn’t mean his portfolio is bursting at the seams. He believes there’s one key element to getting your portfolio to earn the passive income you need, and it isn’t about the number of properties in it. 

Rob Flux:   
[00:00:10] Glass ceilings kind of stop you from going massive. And you don't need a lot of properties. That's probably the clue that I want to give everyone out there. It's not about how many properties, it's about how well those properties actually do from a cash flow perspective. 
[00:00:20] So probably seven or eight was all that I needed at that point to have enough passive income to do that. That's nearly... I can't do the math, 20 odd years ago now, that was generating healthy, healthy return for me at the time. 
[00:00:33] I guess I generate more from one individual property now than I do from that collective way back then. So [it's] really important [for me to say] to your community, 'It's not how many, it's what does that property do for you?'

Tyrone Shum:   
His modest portfolio doesn’t mean that he hasn’t made a large number of transactions. In the impressive number he’s done, not every experience has been positive at the time but have always offered a positive learning experience.

Rob Flux:   
[00:01:35] The worst experience was clearly that story I gave about kicking Mum and Dad out, right?
[00:01:44] But it's also the thing that empowered me to move forward. Every career that I've had— so electronics repair, I guess the computer repair, the solution architecture, design, everything— was about problem solving. So there was never a problem that I was afraid of. 
[00:02:05] And so when you say, 'What's your worst experience?', it was more, 'What's the funnest challenge to take on? What's the nicest problem to have solved?'. 
[00:02:15] And probably the most satisfying, rather than the biggest problem. And that was more than mindset switch that I had to actually get through, was my first property development deal. 
[00:02:25] Now, that first property development deal was a... it was a curly one, because [I] actually was buying an existing dwelling that had been running as a rooming house solution. For quite some time, it was being very poorly run. But I saw it for the development potential, rather than the rooming house potential. So there were two existing properties at the front of the property and a lot of room at the back. 

Error… Error…

Rob Flux: 
[00:02:56] Now, from a funding perspective, I had enough deposit to purchase them as a house and get a residential type loan. But the problem there is that the bank said, 'Well, that's actually a commercial property. And so you actually need to do commercial terms, which means you need more deposit'. 
[00:03:18] So I didn't have the deposit. Then I said, 'Well, what if you just tried to treat it as a house?' Because it really was a house being rented as a rent per room. They said, 'Well, if we do that, then we can't recognise all the rent that it generates. So if you want to recognise the rent, then you need to have commercial. If you want to not recognise the rent, then we need to get it valued as if it rented out to a single person'. 
[00:03:44] So it wouldn't meet from a serviceability perspective if I did it residentially, and it wouldn't meet from a commercial perspective, from a deposit perspective, if I did it commercially. So I knew that the deal was there. But I just didn't know how to put the deal together. 
[00:03:59] And I could see that there was an opportunity to put six townhouses on the back of this. And this was going to be the deal that kind of got me out the second time. And I knew that it was there. But I just didn't know how. And it was about trying to think differently. 
[00:04:18] And the big lesson that I got out of it is: Don't let your lack of resources stop you from being resourceful. And so I went, 'How do I do this?' And so I had my sister come onto the transaction. 
[00:04:37] Now, it took a long time for me to have the intestinal fortitude to ask someone else to actually help me out. And I really, really, really didn't want to do that with family. It was one of those things where everyone tells you, never work with family. And so it took me a long time to actually build up the guts to do that. 
[00:04:56] And when I did that, it unlocked the opportunity for me that then became the deal that got me out the second time. 
[00:05:07] So what I would encourage your community to say is, 'How do I do something?' So the problem in front of you, that's the question you want to ask. 'How do I?' And don't be afraid to ask friends and family for help. That's probably the biggest thing that I got out of that process. Because everyone says, 'Don't work with family'. But I couldn't have done it without my sister. I'm very, very grateful for her contribution.

Tyrone Shum:   
He got it across the line eventually as a residential deal, with his sister on as a serviceability partner. While she didn’t put a cent of her own into the property, she was there on paper to guarantee the rent and keep the bank happy.

Rob Flux:   
[00:06:09] She stayed on title for enough time for us to get the development approval. At that point, we had to transition it to a commercial loan. But we generated the soft equity uplift through the development approval process. I got some other investors to tip in equity at that point, and bought her out. And I was able to transition that. 
[00:06:32] That ended up being two properties that were sitting at the front generating really, really massive rental returns, plus the townhouses at the back, where I ended up selling most of them, keeping one that I owned outright, and generating a very healthy cash flow out of that. So about a million dollars in equity, and about $210,000 in positive cash flow out of that one deal.

Investor vs. Developer

Tyrone Shum:    
Flux’s philosophy is certainly to not have any limitations, and his advice to those that do is to shift your mindset to fit. However, there’s a bigger lesson.

Rob Flux:   
[00:07:48] The bigger lesson is that there's a very distinct difference in investing versus developing. 
[00:07:56] Investing, you need to be able to afford to hold that for a long period of time. The bank is going to assess you on how much deposit you've got, and what your serviceability is, and your ability to meet that debt over a 20 or 30 year period. 
[00:08:09] Property development is very different. It's a very short-term timeframe. And it's manufactured profit. And so the ability to get alternative lending into a deal on a short-term timeframe— where you can manufacture the profit and get in and out in a very short period of time— lots of people will give you lots of different creative ways to get in and out of that deal. 
[00:08:34] Because they've got money that's sitting there that is stagnant and stale, and not doing anything. And they want to tap into the success that you're getting. And so I found that doing creative deals and controlling property rather than owning it was a great way to almost manufacture money out of thin air.

Tyrone Shum:   
He’s experienced a lot of aha moments along the way, but not all of them have been his.

Rob Flux:   
[00:09:18] It's a combination of doing my own deal and seeing that aha moment for myself. But then the community that I was starting to create, and sharing those aha moments with them, and then seeing them getting variations on that theme. And so what I unlocked with one approach, they started teaching me a whole bunch of others. And now I know seven different ways that I can control a property and never own it and still make money from it.

Tyrone Shum:   
Flux started with a boarding house and added townhouses before moving on to other developments, but he makes sure not to spread himself too thin.

Rob Flux:   
[00:10:19] I have done all types of developments along the way. And I found— if you're wanting aha moments— one of the things that I found is if you are doing too many different things, you become a jack of all trades and master of none. 
[00:10:32] And so it was only when I started to niche down that I started to get very, very good at what I did [and] very effective. I can make decisions really, really fast, I can assess a deal in minutes, not weeks. And so that the big aha moment is to say, 'I don't want to be inch wide, mile deep. Instead, I want to turn it around and go, I want to be mile wide inch deep, I want to be inch wide mile deep'. So same amount of effort, and I can be very, very, very productive. 
[00:11:04] When you do that, it doesn't matter what strategy you choose, so long as you get really good at it. A phrase I like to say to my community is, 'Every strategy works, but it doesn't work everywhere'. And so when you get really good at one thing, then you start to see where that one thing works really well.

Tyrone Shum:   
His efforts to ensure he doesn’t become a jack of all trades and master of none is paying off, as he’s found his niche market and is sticking to it.

Rob Flux:   
[00:12:01] Most of what I do is land subdivisions. And I like that because you can get in and out very quickly. You typically need a lot less money to actually run the deal. You aren't exposed to the building and construction risk that a lot of people are actually concerned about right now. But instead you're handing that on to the ultimate buyer who's going to be building their dream home and it doesn't become your problem. 
[00:12:26] But I'm finding myself nowadays starting to move back towards townhouse and apartment construction as my next phase. The land subdivision side of things I've been doing for a long time. I'm very good at [it]. I think I've got room now to actually master something else.

Thinking Ahead

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:12:50] So I guess moving into that, why? Why move into townhouses or units and stuff like that?

Rob Flux:   
[00:12:58] Because there's a very large disparity. With the recent boom that's just happened in the property market, there's a large disparity between a house and a multi unit dwelling, so a townhouse or an apartment. 
[00:13:14] Now typically, the difference between a house and a townhouse is about 10 to 12%. Typically. But with the boom that we just went through, that disparity is now closer to 28%. Which means that the housing market is going to come down a little bit, and the townhouse and apartment market is going to come up. 
[00:13:38] Because people can't afford a house anymore. And so the demand for a multi dwelling is going to increase significantly as our population starts to kick back into gear. And most of our population growth has been stalled when we locked the international borders. 
[00:13:58] But now that the borders are open back up, population is going to start to come back, that disparity is going to start to close. And all of a sudden, if you can buy well right now, by the time the population gets here, it's going to be a great time to sell.

Tyrone Shum:   
Flux doesn’t let anything, including dyslexia, stop him from learning. One book in particular made a huge impact on him, as it has many others in the property industry.

Rob Flux:   
[00:15:00] One of the few books that I did read was Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich. Now, that book, he followed a gentleman by the name of Andrew Carnegie around for 25 years. Andrew Carnegie was an iron and steel magnate, and one of the richest men in the world at the time. He was a billionaire. This is nearly 120 year old book at this point in time. 
[00:15:26] And what he found was that the way that the rich do business and the way that the poor do business are very different. As the poor, we tend to be very insular with our problems. We keep them to ourselves, which means we can only solve the problem with our own worldly experience. 
[00:15:41] What the rich do is they talk to their mates. From a tall poppy syndrome, we say it's always job for the boys. But in reality, what they're doing is they're masterminding. And they're saying, 'Hey, who's seen a problem like this before?' And they help each other to progress their journey forward. And they use the worldly experience of everyone in that group to create that. 
[00:16:02] What happens there is: 'You've got a great idea that I wouldn't have had'. And then when you raise your great idea, someone else in the group says, 'Hey, that reminds me of another great idea'. And the answer that you get is very different than anything that any one of you would have created individually. 
[00:16:21] So Napoleon Hill likens that to having a third mind. So it's an answer that no one would have got[ten] individually. That is what we created around the kitchen table, that mastermind process. That is what we still do at our networking events today. 
[00:16:38] And so if you want to progress your property journey, the answer to that is: Hang around with people that are doing the things that you want to do, that have more experience with what you want to do. Get into a masterminding type process. We run those events all the way around the country. And start to bring your property journey problems to that community where others have done what you want to do.

Power in Numbers

Tyrone Shum:   
Flux’s Property Developer Network community are well-versed in the art of masterminding, but their mastermind sessions are even more powerful than they appear.

Rob Flux:   
[00:17:23] So you will go into that masterminding with one problem of your own and the community will try to help you. But you're in a group of, let's just say, six or seven people. And then you listen to the next person's problem and how that’s solved. Now that's a problem that you haven't had, but you now know the answer to. And then you pick up six problems and six answers that you haven't yet experienced. But at some time on your journey probably will. So you're accelerating your journey six times faster. 
[00:17:55] Now you come back next month, and you catch up with that person, and you go, 'Hey, that solution that you were given, how did you go?' Now you get to learn: Did it work? Did it not work? And you learn another six, and then another six, and then another six. 
[00:18:08] And then what happens there is that your mental capacity outgrows your actual worldly experience. And so your ability to take on a problem is much more powerful.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:18:20] So how did you form your mastermind group for people? Because you did around the kitchen table, how people be able to do that within the group?

Rob Flux:   
[00:18:29] What we do at our events is we have industry experts that talk about different issues and challenges. So we might have a town planner or a civil engineer or architect, all those sorts of things. So you're always getting an industry expertise teach you with somebody in the community sharing a real deal. So the good, the bad, and the ugly of a project. So you get to see the problems and how the problems were solved. And what worked and what didn't work. And then that mastermind process at the end. 
[00:18:55] We break up the group into lots of small groups. So we might have 100 people in the room and we have all these little huddles, and everyone tries to help each other's journey move forward. 
[00:19:07] So if you want to move forward on your journey, even if you don't know where to start, the best place to ask that question is from other people who've started. Come to a meetup event! 
[00:19:21] We run them almost every weekend around the country in different places. 

Tyrone Shum:   
COVID-19 threw a spanner in the works for just about everybody, including the team at Property Developer Network. They pivoted from in-person to online, but thankfully had some secret weapons to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Rob Flux:   
[00:19:44] I guess one of the the advantages of coming from a very tech background is [we] pivoted very quickly and did them online. And so we still managed to still do the networking, the industry experts, the masterminding, all of those sorts of things. 
[00:20:02] And then as we started to transition back to the physical world, we now do a hybrid event. So that is we have a physical event that you can turn up to if it's in your local area. But we live stream that at the same time, and so people can participate via the live stream and still do the masterminding. 
[00:20:20] So we will run an event in Melbourne and from Sydney and Brisbane or Perth, or wherever you are, you can dial into that and still [attend]. So pretty much there is something to learn every weekend for the entire year. Industry experts and real deals that you can actually learn lessons from, plus continue that journey.

[00:20:57] It's one of those things where with practice, answers just start to materialise. And sometimes you don't even know where the idea comes from. But it just materialised.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:21:15] So I'm curious now, like if people want to find out a little bit more about how to get involved in these type of masterminds and enjoying these events, how did they do that?

Rob Flux:   
[00:21:23] If they Google Property Developer Network, they will find our website. It's Just go to the events link, and that will show you all the events that we've got. We typically run an event most weekends of the year, with the exception [of] major public holidays, Christmas, Easter, etc. But there's always a way to contribute. 
[00:21:50] And [we're] looking to grow it into more states as well. So we're currently in Brisbane, Sydney, [and] Melbourne. But delusions of grandeur are going Adelaide and Perth in the not too distant future. And I guess really trying to grow those communities to make that worthwhile.

Be a GPS

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:22:10] [I'm] interested to know, if you say you met yourself, say 10 years ago, what do you think you would have said to him?

Rob Flux:   
[00:22:18] Start with the end in mind.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:22:21] That's interesting. I've heard that many times. But interesting to hear what your thoughts and perspective behind that is.

Rob Flux:   
[00:22:27] Okay. So I want to give you a metaphor. 
[00:22:30] So the first thing that you want to think about is a GPS. Okay? Now, a GPS needs two things. It needs to know where you are. And it needs to know where you're going. 
[00:22:43] Now, a lot of people don't know where they are. That's probably the first part of it. They don't look at their financial circumstances. They don't know what's my cash flow? What's my liquidity? What's my serviceability? They don't know what their budget is, they don't know what they need, the problem is they're trying to solve. 
[00:22:57] Then, where are they going? So what's the development strategy I'm going to do? Or the investment strategy I'm going to do? How am I actually going to achieve that? How many properties do I need to own at the end, in order to solve this problem that I'm at right now? 
[00:23:11] Now, if you know those two things, then the path in between starts to become easy to work out. And like a GPS, when you deviate off target, it's really easy to come back on target, because you know exactly where you're going.

Tyrone Shum:   
The why behind Flux’s journey developed through a traumatic experience, and since he achieved the goal he set out to, his why has changed dramatically.

Rob Flux:   
[00:23:51] I'm financially free, I don't need to solve that problem anymore. And one of the things that became an epiphany to me, I guess, in starting the community, is that I actually get a great deal of satisfaction in helping others. 
[00:24:09] And I've got a very simple philosophy. I could be the richest man in the world. And I would be at the peak of the mountain with a beautiful, spectacular view. But the peak of the mountain is very pointy. It'll stick in your bum, it won't be very comfortable, and you'll be sitting up there alone. 
[00:24:27] If I come down the mountain a little bit, there's a lot more room to fit a lot more people around me. And so you can all enjoy the view together. 
[00:24:37] So by helping other people, I find that I get a lot more satisfaction out of life. I have a lot more friends at me and my measure of success is how many people are going to turn up to my grave, not how many toys I have when I get there.

Tyrone Shum:   
Flux refers to a well-known psychological idea to describe how he came up with his latest goal.

Rob Flux:   
[00:25:07] For anyone who does a lot of personal development, you probably have heard of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. And so as you start to move up the pyramid, you solve the problems with security and [having a] roof over your head and that sort of thing, you start to move up towards enlightenment. And I guess I'm trying to get to the top of that particular pyramid. And for me, my 'why' now, I've set myself a personal goal of setting 1,000 people financially free by the year 2030. So everything that I'm doing is a drive towards that.

Tyrone Shum:    
While his latest why is a big one, the most exciting thing coming up for him is a lot of smaller moments that come together to form something monumental.

Rob Flux:   
[00:26:15] The most exciting things are the little things, Tyrone. 
[00:26:20] When I'm in a mentoring session, and I see the light bulb flick for someone, and you get to be the front row seat of someone suddenly getting it and they now actually know what needs to be done. They know how to do it. Or more significant and more impactful is actually being there the moment it happens. 
[00:26:46] I'm very fortunate to have had a number of our people already announce that they are financially free. [And] a lot more that are financially independent, as in they've left their day job, and they're doing property development full time. And I can see how many of them are on that journey to get that financial freedom. And I tear up when somebody announces they're financially free. 
[00:27:10] I've been in one on one situations where there's two or three people on the call and all of us are crying, because it's the moment they recognise they made it. And it's a funny thing. 
[00:27:27] I had one of our community members who's not a student, but just a community member, who shared a story with me. They had been working so hard, that they didn't actually stop and take the time to actually go, 'Well, what's my revenue, what's my expenses?' They didn't realise that they were financially free. 
[00:27:49] You don't suddenly get streamers fall from the sky. That moment doesn't happen like that. So you have to actually take a deliberate action to go and and measure yourself to say, 'Where am I at? Where do I sit in that particular role?' 
[00:28:06] And that's part of that GPS side of things. Where am I? Where am I going? You need to keep checking in: Where am I? Because how do you know that you're deviating off path? 
[00:28:17] And I think that's something that most people don't do. They will buy a property, and they will hold it for 5 [or] 10 [or] 15 years, and they will never check how it's performing. 
[00:28:28] There's only really four reasons why you buy a property. One: Capital gains. Two: Cash flow. Three: Manufactured profit. And four: Lifestyle. 
[00:28:39] For lifestyle, you're just going to make decisions irrespective of the monetary value. Manufactured profit, it's really easy to tell, you're in and out really quick. 
[00:28:51] But for capital gains and for cash flow, it's amazing how many times I see people just don't check. 'Is this performing? Am I getting the capital gains that I should be out of this particular property? Is, cash flow wise, it performing better than other areas in the country? And could my money be working harder somewhere else?' 
[00:29:10] And so if you check in on a regular basis, every three months or so, look at your portfolio. How's it performing? And start to predict the future by reading the market and go, 'Well, where do I think the market's actually starting to go?' You can start to work out, 'Well, is now the time to exit that stock? Do I think that moment is coming up?' You can actually prepare and get ready so you're responsive rather than reactive.

It’s a Two Part-er

Tyrone Shum:   
He finds that there are two parts to the financial freedom process: The first is the recognition that it’s possible, and the second is the realisation that they’ve done it.

Rob Flux:   
[00:30:11] People that come through my mentoring program, we kind of help them put together a formula with regards to: How do you actually work out how many properties you need to own? How do you actually put a plan in place to own that number of properties? 
[00:30:25] And so then they start to realise that, hey, for most of us, three to five years is all you really need in order to become financially free. The average Australian wage is only $80,000, which means that most people are living within their means. And so if you could get somewhere around $80,000 a year passive income, it's going to pay for all the debts. It's going to put food on the table, fuel in the car, those sorts of things. 
[00:30:54] Now, what's amazing is [that] it doesn't take a lot of properties to actually generate $80,000 a year. So for most people, they need somewhere between three and five properties owned outright, which is very, very easy to achieve.

Tyrone Shum:   
Many people can get discouraged by thinking they need to buy 10 or 20 properties to become financially free, but Flux notes there’s a difference between investing and developing.

Rob Flux:   
[00:31:35] For investing, you're putting a deposit in and you've got a large amount of debt. And so you have to service that. And so, in order to get to that financial freedom side of things, the differential to pay the debt, and what's left over is not very much. 
[00:31:53] From a development perspective, our goal is to still be an investor, but we want to manufacture the profit at a wholesale rate, not a retail rate. And when you do it at a wholesale rate, the profits that you manufacture, you can own a property outright with a really simple formula. 
[00:32:17] I'll give you a loaded question if you're okay, Tyrone. 
[00:32:20] What is the typical property profits that you hear most developers are actually aiming for? 

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:32:27] 20% profit margin. 

Rob Flux:   
[00:32:29] 20% profit or cost. Everyone answers the same, give or take a couple. So if we do a 20% profit on cost, then the magic formula says six is the number that you are looking for. So if you build six of anything, and you sell five, that will pay for the costs, and the sixth one is free.  
[00:32:53] So if you have one property that's owned outright, that's 100% positive cash flow. That is one property that is going to grow with the market. Every seven to 10 years, it'll double in value. That's one property that has no mortgage so you can use that to leverage to go into your next deal and go bigger.
[00:33:15] Because you never sold the property, you didn't actually realise the profit, which means that you didn't actually pay the tax. So you're keeping 100% of the profit, not the GST, less the company tax, less the income tax. And so you're basically going to accelerate really, really hard once you get to the point where you can do a six pack.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:33:42] Gotcha. So if you do a few of these, there's your financial freedom formula.

Hiding in Plain Sight

Rob Flux:   
[00:33:48] That's the point. That is the property development formula. [It] is how do we actually get to doing a six pack? 
[00:33:58] And so going back to my statement before, start with the end in mind. I know that I need three to five of those. So let's just say four, in the middle. Okay, so that's four projects of a six pack. Now, how do I learn to do a six pack? Well, I need to do something smaller. So maybe a four pack? How do I learn to do a four pack? Well, I might do a two pack. 
[00:34:22] So you need a couple for the practice to get yourself to the deal size, and then a couple to run. So most people can do those those projects. You might be somewhere between five and eight projects and you're financially free.

Tyrone Shum:   
He mostly sees people running these projects concurrently.

Rob Flux:   
[00:34:45] The reason why they run concurrently comes back to the point I was making before. By learning to control property rather than owning it, you don't need all the cash to do it.

Tyrone Shum:    
[00:35:14] I'm curious, how much of your success do you think has been due to hard work, your intelligence, and skill? And how much of it do you think has been because of luck?

Rob Flux:   
[00:25:25] Well, I'm going to give you a definition of luck. And then you you tell me if I'm right. 
[00:35:32] Luck happens when opportunity presents itself to preparation. So if you do the hard work, and you get prepared, the opportunity when it passes you by, you're able to grab [it]. 
[00:35:47] The opportunity will always be going past you. It's whether or not you're ready to recognise it and whether you're ready to act on it is based on the amount of effort you put in upfront. So it is hard work to create your luck.

Tyrone Shum:   
[00:36:06] You're making me think. I totally agree with you. And that I've heard many, many times. And it's so true. For you, though, is that what you believe as well, too? Just to double check.

Rob Flux:   
[00:36:21] Absolutely. I only recognise opportunities because I've been exposed to so many things in the past. Let me give you an easy metaphor that most of your community will be able to pick up on. 
[00:36:37] Have you ever bought yourself a brand new car? And if so, you remember the make, the model, [and] the colour of that car. Now, the week before you purchased it, you probably never saw any of those cars on the road. But the week after you purchased it, there were hundreds of them out there. And you will always say, 'There's another one, there's another one, there's another one'. 
[00:36:58] They were always there. But your subconscious mind, a thing called the reticular activating system, was not switched on to actually see them. And so what we need to do is we need to train our subconscious mind to firstly recognise the opportunity and then start looking for it. Because they're hiding in plain sight. They're always there, we just don't know how to actually see them.


Tyrone Shum: 
Thank you to Rob Flux, our guest on this episode of Property Investory.