Real Estate Wealth Magazine Interview With Sensei Gilliland

rewWhen you first started your martial arts business, were you expecting that it would become a full-time business and a growing company?

At first I started it with the idea that it would become an income stream, until I figured out what I wanted to as a career. During college I realized that I had professors teaching me concepts and theories without obtaining success themselves. I also realized that I was making just as much money working my part-time martial arts business as they worked their full-time. I received my associates degree and quickly exited college so I could myself to building my business.

At what point did you decide to venture in to real estate?

I got started in the real estate because I was looking for a business that would give me a passive income stream. First my eyes were set on coin-op car washes. I understood the car wash business mode, l but I didn’t understand was how to lease or buy land. Now, I had to learn the real estate business. Here’s is what I learned… “He who controls the real estate controls the business”. That was a big lesson for me. So, I quickly dove in to the real estate investing world as I wanted that control.

When you started on your new venture was there a particular real estate niche that attracted you and why?

Yes, I was attracted to fixing and flipping houses. Why you ask… because I wanted big paydays like I read in the books.

At what point did you realize that your real estate business was going to take off and decide to devote yourself to building a second career?

That’s funny you ask… I knew this business was for me right after I took my first real estate workshop. I had created such a passion for flipping houses that failure was not an option for me; especially after I had to break the news to my bride that I just spent $30,000 on a package of real estate seminars. You men reading this article know what I’m talking about.

I understand that you are not just flipping houses and that you have added other divisions to your business. Please tell us how you evolved.

After my first 5 years of flipping houses across the nation and continuing my education, I added other cash generating real estate niches such as wholesaling, purchase options and rentals. I had such a momentum that many people started to inquire about my business and that is when I decided to expand my business to consulting, education, private money lending and asset management.

I see that Black Belt Investors has many spokes to its hub. Would you mind telling us which spoke is the most dominate income stream and which spoke captures your passion?

Oh that’s easy. Buying and selling real estate is my cash machine, rentals are my wealth builder and my passion belongs to educating.

You’ve bootstrapped your business, and as I understand, you run a lean and mean machine. What do you do yourself, what does your staff do, and what do you outsource?

That’s a fully loaded question, but let me put it in simple form. I personally like to focus on the creative side of business. I enjoy to tweaking, testing and enhancing my products and services to stay on the cutting edge. I also love to build new businesses that compliments one of my other businesses.

I have a powerful staff that I can rely on that enjoys their work. Some of my staff works in the office, some are out in the field and many are set up to work through a virtual office. They relieve me of many duties that would normally tie me down just to maintain the business. I know that if I want to grow, then I must be relieved of the work that a $10 an hour employee can handle as ‘time is money’ and my time is much more valuable than to do the tasks of a $10 an hour job.

I will mention a few of the duties that I outsource that most businesses can relate too; such as database managers, internet marketing, social media managing, services and product sales team, and transactions coordinators.

I know that you own multiple companies. How do you manage and control these businesses?

I think it is very important to focus on your strengths and hire your weaknesses. If you are going to own one or many businesses, then you need to learn how to develop systems that can be operated by employees. Let’s take McDonalds for an example… here you have a restaurant that will pull in millions in revenue each and every year operated by minimum wage workers. How can that be? It works because of the powerful business branding and the systems that are in place. By having great branding and systems, it allows the owner to oversee the business and not be in the business, which ultimately allows more time for the owner to focus on business building.

You’re a strong advocate of “personal branding”. Could you define what that means to you?

I had no concept what branding meant until about 8 years ago. Branding to me is a name that stands for something in prospects’ minds. Google stands for ‘search’. Home Depot stands for ‘home improvement’. Redbox stands for ‘video rentals’.

Now personal branding defines who you are and your unique abilities, plus you need to understand other people’s perception of you.

Developing a great brand and you will have what I call ‘positive magnet marketing’. Prospects will be drawn to you and your business. Don’t brand yourself properly and you will have ‘negative magnet marketing’, which means you will push your marketing to find prospects.

How do you define entrepreneurship?

I define entrepreneurship as “the passionate pursuit of opportunity”.

Do you have any advice for new or struggling entrepreneurs?

Yes. Work harder, faster and smarter than the competition. Do whatever it takes to make your business a success, and everything else will take care of itself.

How do you define wealth?

The definition of wealth is very personal to each individual, however, my definition of wealth is “having income streams to control my time without compromising my lifestyle”.

What is next for Black Belt Investors?

I am continuing my work to grow the company and to take advantage of the current market. I am excited to have a few irons in the fire that will increase the value of the company and keep me challenged. I am always working to build the brand, better our service and products and enjoy myself along the journey.


Sensei Gilliland is a husband, father, real estate investor and entrepreneur. He is also the founder and CEO for Black Belt Investors and co-founder of Riches In Niches, real estate companies that offers investments, education hard money lending and consulting. To learn more about Sensei sign up for his free Newsletter by visiting or call 951-280-1900.


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