I started my first business in college, which was a Janitorial Service. At other times I had up to four jobs at once. After college I began my career in the Information Technology field. Even then I worked a second job until I “Got a Clue” that this was not the way I wanted to spend the next 35 years. So, in 1987 I said adios to the second job, went to Hawaii for 3 weeks, and came back refreshed with a plan to escape the 9 to 5 route.
While in the IT field I started another business doing Factory Liquidations, then an Import/Export Business. Both went bust and left me with huge debt. In June of 1993 I was introduced to a direct selling company that sold long distance service. Over the next 1 1/2 years I built a sales organization that at its peak had some 30,000 Independent Agents, and I was making more money than I had ever dreamed. I left my career in the IT field 1994 working in the Database Administration Group, and threw the biggest retirement party I could. I was very sure that I was never going to have to work again, EVER! I proceeded to do very little over the next two years until the amount of my checks started to dissipate, and again I found myself with no money and at a crossroads.
I then started a Telecommunications Consulting business which after a couple of years of nice growth and profits started to go south because of bad decisions I made on the direction of product lines. A good friend said “Leon, stay away from local telephone service. With all the deregulation going on at that time I was sure that “local” was going to be a golden ticket. Well, teaming up with the myriad of Competitive Local Exchange Carriers out there and trying to compete with MA Bell just did not work and I eventually filed bankruptcy.
It was at that time that I realized that I needed to make some major corrections in my flight plan. I had a couple of systems on board my circuitry that were not quite functioning properly. I had gotten pretty good at making money but I was still lousy at figuring out how to keep it. Keeping money is not necessary a necessary skill when money is flowing, when money is ebbing is when the skill is desired most. Most of those 30,000 agents had the same fate. I couldn’t teach them how to keep their money, because I didn’t know myself. I vowed then and there that whatever it took I would prevent that from happening again. So I started on a path to seek out anybody who could teach me these very important principles of money. Even in the bible there are many teachings about being good stewards of money such as “the parable of the talents”. It did not matter how much I paid for this knowledge as I began to spend greatly on learning from people who knew. My education budget ran at most times to the tune of about $150,000 per year on seminars, trainings and just flat out payments of time.
It had taken years to figure out what I was lacking but once motivated you would be surprised how fast you can learn, especially if you are in the right paradigm. The first step was learning about credit. After filing bankruptcy and my FICO score dropping to 495, I was able to get it back over 700 in just 1 year. I then started a Credit Restoration business to show people how to come back from the same pit that I was in.
Realizing that the mortgage debt on the home was the largest debt that most of us will ever have in our lives, I needed to understand that part of it and learn how to manage it. At the time, almost 40% of our income was spent on mortgage debt, and the percentage became greater, which is a big factor in the crisis we find ourselves in. We have somehow gotten under the illusion that a house makes a home, which could not be further from the truth. A house is just a thing. A house is just one of the many things that are around us. When we leave these physical bodies, guess what? That’s right the house is staying. We can make a home anywhere. Most people just think about managing their assets but I am here to tell you that if most people focused on managing their liabilities they would be much further ahead.
I became a Real Estate and Mortgage Broker, but quickly got my Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist Certification and began teaching my clients Equity Management Principles and concepts in debt leverage. Just as I had learned how to leverage my mortgage debt I knew others needed to learn the same thing.
I then started the Insurance Agency and Financial Services division, which at the time was quite a feat. It took almost a year to convince carriers and a master agency to accept a brand new Insurance Broker who had never written a policy, with no previous Insurance experience in Property & Casualty. All carriers wanted a minimum 3 years experience running an Insurance Agency before they would let you write business for them. I am still not sure how we pulled that one off. I guess it was sheer determination. My personal experience and education from mentors, teachers, and trainers taught me that this was a very large area that people were not optimizing, and they were downright killing any chance at a prosperous future for themselves. The average person thinks of Insurance as something they are forced to get, but I learned that wealthy people understand that Insurance structured properly can not only be a huge asset protector but a major factor in wealth accumulation. Believe me, in the 1980’s there were two professions I swore I would never get into, Real Estate & Insurance. Why? I was much too smart for either one of those professions. A mentor use to say “some people have more degrees than a thermometer and are still stuck on stupid”. I was “stuck on stupid” for a long time. It took a lot of bruises and money loss for me to “Get a Clue”. It’s amazing to think about the paradigm that I existed in at that time.
During this last real estate run, people found fountains of money which they thought had no consequences. Acquaintances I knew seemed to come up with new toys every week that they had just purchased. Almost none of these people are left in business or with their new toys. Throughout this real estate run I screamed equity management, debt leverage, safe asset accumulation etc., but most often it fell on deaf ears. Because our company is still in business, the natural assumption is from people I know is that we are swimming in revenue. The truth is, I learned how to keep my money while enjoying my life to all ends. We survived because of huge reserves, holdings where it doesn’t matter what happens to the stock market my money is safe, proper equity management, and knowledge.
Essentially, the NueStart companies, which are composed of LUCA Financial Services, LUCA Insurance Services, NueStart Financial Services, Williams Landmark Real Estate, and NFS Commercial, were created for the purpose of teaching others lessons I so painfully learned. My mission is to promote Financial Literacy not only in this country but all over the globe. The cluelessness that I felt, I know others are filling. It is my purpose to stand as a bridge from financial ignorance to knowledge.
This is my Passion, My Purpose.
Leon C. Williams