Welcome to the next installment of our Better Know a Young Millionaire series. Remember, every two weeks (or so), I like to highlight a conversation I've had with a young millionaire. I define young as someone who is less than 35 years old, and has over a million dollars net worth – assets minus liabilities. The goal of this series is to provide insight into what it takes to be successful, give motivation, and to talk with successful people about what they're doing today in this economic environment. I love sitting down with people from different backgrounds and talking about some common themes.
Today, I have the pleasure of sitting down with JC Hite. JC is the founder and CEO of Advint, a company that is trying to redefine the way that students study abroad. Founded on the belief that every student should have the opportunity to study abroad, JC has built an innovative company around study abroad programs and other internships. I'm a huge believer in his core philosophy that education is more than just a classroom activity. You can learn so much from getting out in the world and interacting with new people and cultures.
Anyway, let's get to know JC a little better…
Tell me about yourself and your company?
JC: My name is JC Hite. I’m 24 years old, graduated from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. I am a Christian, traveler, love to write and speak. I’ve been a part of the real estate business my entire life. Growing up, I was so involved with real-estate – I would go every day when I was 14 – 15 and I would get the paper and in the housing section. I would look at the different properties and analyze them. One day my grandfather took me to go look at one of the houses and he asked me if we should buy it. I said yes, but instead of my grandfather buying it, I did. He took me to the bank where I signed “loan papers”, it was my house. I paid the bills, I took care of it, and so at 15, I had my first house. Instead of my family giving me something, they showed me how I could get it myself and taught me how to run a real estate company.
That start has evolved into my current company, Advint. I still have my real estate business, but now I'm pursuing another goal of mine in helping students.
Our mission is “Taking on Adventure with Intention.” We believe that education is more than just a classroom; we believe it’s the experience. Through our top notch and accredited language immersion programs, you can start learning a new language, explore different cultures, and go on an adventure. We offer study abroad, group trips, and virtual lessons.
How do you have time for two companies (your real estate business and Advint)? Most people can barely do one!
JC: I don't! I have an incredible team that helps me with each!
How did you make your first million?
JC: I made my first million by accumulating real estate for both income and by selling and trading properties.
Investing and More
Where do you currently invest your money and why?
JC: I invest all of my money in real estate. I believe that real estate investing has the best return over the long run. You can borrow money from the bank at very low interest rates and you need a very little down payment to start. If you invest correctly, you have a small monthly profit immediately, and then you get to take tax deductions to boost your paper returns come tax time. Plus, all the while you are building equity.
Has that changed over time?
JC: No. Four generations of my family have been involved in real estate. Real estate has been a blessing to me since I was young. It's what I know. I believe if something works, you need to stick with it.
Many millionaires have made money through real estate (especially you). Why?
JC: The best way I can answer this is to recommend a book, Investing in Real Estate by Andrew McLean and Gary W. Eldred. It has everything you need to know about real estate and investing.
Risk and Reward
Is there another way to be a young millionaire without starting your own business or being an entrepreneur?
JC: Well, that depends on your definition of young. Being an entrepreneur may not be the easiest way, but it is not necessarily the best way.
What's the biggest risk you ever took? Do you regret it?
JC: When I think of risk, I think of the saying “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Risk is the opposite of that; I minimize risk by being as prepared and informed as possible for that risk. However, on a non business risk, I lived in Africa and travelled all over the world without knowing where I was going to sleep and I don't regret the experience at all!
If you could make one change (past or present), what would it be and why?
JC: I know it's cliche, but I don't think I would change anything. Everything that has happened to me has happened for a reason, and looking back I can see where I have grown from some of my worst experiences.
What advice do you have for young adults and college students when it comes to entrepreneurship and money?
JC: First, learn, talk, and befriend as many experienced people in your field (and not in your field) as possible. I make it a point to visit with or take one of them out to lunch once a week. This next bit of advice goes along with the first, no matter what happens, build relationships with people and respect them. Third, get a journal, take notes, and write down everything. Lists, notes, ideas, anything, it’s the only way to be affective. Fourth, get in the habit of making a budget; it’s good for your business and good for yourself. Fifth, read, read, read and read some more, if you don’t like to read then buy the audio books.
What I Learned from JC Hite
Thanks JC for an amazing interview. I think, whether we like to admit it or not, we never really fall too far from our family tree. So, in JC's case, he grew up around real estate and it came naturally to him. In many cases, we default back to what we know and understand. More than that – it's probably a good thing! Warren Buffett continually extols on invest in what you know! So, in JC's case, he sticks to what he knows.
On top of that, I love how he transformed a formative experience for him (studying abroad and getting out of the classroom) into a business that is thriving. All it takes is a differentiator to be successful, and that's what JC does with Advint.
What did you learn from JC? How can you apply investing in what you know into your own life?