It takes more than one person to break generations of racial barriers. We all have to work together to empower our people and bring economic and social transformation.
Thomas Lopez-Pierre joins us again today to talk about how we can take action to create collective change. Supporting black businesses and black banks is key to a thriving community. He also believes that we need to learn from other groups who overcame their own struggles and have the knowledge and resources to help us close the wealth gap.
Listen in for another packed episode with Thomas!
[00:01 – 17:00] Coming Together To Build Black Wealth
- Check out part 1 of the interview with Thomas!
- How to grow the business and community through strong partnerships
- The education versus capitalist society
- Learning from other groups and leveraging capitalism
- Black people need to be smarter in their investments
[17:01 – 24:09] Closing Segment
- The final 2 questions
- Thomas on diversification: Believing in diversity and not putting all the money in one developer
- Connect with Thomas!
“If you’re going to live the Gucci lifestyle, the bling-bling lifestyle, do it off passive income, don’t do it off earned income.” – Thomas Lopez-Pierre
“I hate to break it to you: Your home, it’s not an investment. Your home is an expense. You have to pay a mortgage for that and if you stop paying the mortgage, you get foreclosed. An investment is when you have tenants paying you rent, and if they stop paying you rent, you will evict them. That’s an investment of black people, food for thought.”- Thomas Lopez-Pierre
“Invest in things that produce cash flow, not things that make you feel like a bourgeois, you know, feeling important because you will achieve some social status.”- Thomas Lopez-Pierre
[00:00:00] Thomas Lopez-Pierre We need more black businesses so that these black banks can then give us mortgages and give us small business loans. So that then they’re doing so much business. They need open branches in our communities. If people say bank black, so let’s all move our deposits over to a black bank. Great. Now they have all this money. Where do they put it? There’s no black business. So it’s like, we got to grow. It’s like parallel, you know, when you were a kid, you would put your back behind your friend and push up. Well, that’s how black business have to go with the banking and the business side, we have to grow parallel to each other so that we’re, our foundation is strong.
[00:01:32] Thomas Lopez-Pierre I Have you read the book, The Color of Money?
[00:01:34] Nicole Pendergrass I’m reading it is so long, but it’s good. I’m like halfway through it.
[00:01:39] Thomas Lopez-Pierre Yeah, so. I’ve read that book. And if you and it’s interesting, because in the book is so true, if you talk to a black banker that owns that from a black owned bank, they will tell you that the worst depositor is a black depositor, absolute worst. And the reason is, because when a black depositor puts their money in a black bank, they take that money out 30 to 60 days later, because they, you know, they got to pay rent, they got to pay this, I got to say that. White depositors leave their money in longer. So that means the bank has its, you know, deposit to cash ratio is lower. So it’s able to loan out more money to has less money, it doesn’t need as much money on hands. And so the reason for that is, is because, you know, black depositors are depositors always needing to pull out the money. But most banks they’re not profitable, because of their positives, their profit, they’re profitable, because of their, their loans. And because black people don’t have any significant amount of businesses, black banks can grow. Because black banks, right now black banks making money off charging fees, they feel to death for you for this for you that for that dadadada. But where they should, where they want to make money is off lending money to black businesses, that’s where they become wealthy. So we need more black businesses, you know, so that these black banks can then give us mortgages, and give us more business loans, so that then they’re doing so much business, they need open branches in our community. But, you know, if you go if people say bank black, so let’s all move our deposits over to a black bank. Great. Now they have all this money, where do they put it, there’s no black businesses. So it’s like we got to grow. It’s like parallel, you know, when you were a kid, you would you would put your back behind your friend and push up, you know, well, that’s how like business have to go with the banking and the business side, we have to grow parallel to each other, so that our foundation is strong. So one of the things that we want to do is, as we build our real estate fund is we want to go to these black banks in America and do what the United States did with Mexico. Like 10 years ago, Mexico was going bankrupt. They called all the United States banks, and they said, Listen, you’re each going to loan Mexico, we’re going to form a consortium. He’s going to loan Mexico a billion dollars, we’re going to bail out Mexico, and the United States is going to guarantee these loans and Mexico was bailed out, and these American banks made a fortune. Well, what we want to do is build a private equity fund that is has like $100 million in equity. Now we have $100 million in equity, that’s at least seven times that in debt. So we want to build a fund that has significant amount of equity that we can go to the black banks and say you guys need to form a commercial real estate debt fund. Where you all the black banks in America, I think there’s like 20, 25, 30, put your money in this fund. You all are going to share the risk and If you’re going to help finance, strong, solid, responsible commercial real estate deals that make sense, that have been vetted, and together, we will grow in partnership. That’s that’s what I see in the future for black banks. If we work together, we can solve a lot of the economic financial issues in our community. If we work together, somebody asked me the other day, what’s your selling proposition? Is it because you’re really smart? And real estate said no. I said, Actually, I’m the dumbest guy in the room. Like, what do you mean? I said, I have 120 members, Black Lives Matter real estate form, LLC has 120 members each paid $1,000 of the member, one time membership payment. And out of that, you know, I got 18 lawyers, 17, medical doctors, a bunch of CPAs, and PhDs and like 40 MBAs, I said, I’m the dumbest guy in the world. They said, Okay, so what’s what’s your selling proposition? I say, Here’s my solid proposition. Two things. Two points is my selling proposition. If you talk to doctors, particularly doctors, they would love to invest in black neighborhoods. But the problem is, they don’t know these developers, they don’t have time to know them. And if you do, if you deal with doctors like I do, you don’t talk to them during the weekday. You can only talk to them on the weekend, because they’re in the emergency room. You know, they’re serving patients. They don’t have time to get to know these people. They don’t know which black developers credible and not going to rip them off. And let’s be honest, everybody complains about the white man. No, I have no problem with white people. White people are not ripping me off. You know, white white people are not ripping me off. Because I don’t do business with white people. I don’t fear white people. I fear black people. I fear black people that look like me that are just lowlife crooks. They just steal. And so yes. So the answer to what our selling proposition is this, people will be able to come to BLM RAF fun number one and Black Lives Matter real estate form. And they will be able to deal with black people that have credibility, integrity, transparency, and honesty. That’s, that’s a powerful brand. These doctors are going to say, I can give Thomas Lopez-Pierre this money, he gives me my 15% or more return year after year, and I don’t have to worry about any ghetto nonsense. They’re not going to strip clubs, they’re not doing this. Everything is transparent, everything is open, everything is gray. That’s a powerful brand. That’s why white people put their money with these big corporations for the brand, because they know this stuff is going to be secure. And that’s what we are going to be pushing is, you know, you can trust us with our deals. Now. If we do 10 deals, we will want to go that Yeah. But that’s the beauty of investing in a fund. If you just invest one deal, it goes bad, you lose your money. But if you invest in a fund that has multiple deals, you won’t even notice that, you know, if you’re getting 19% 21%, and because the deal went bad, you’re only getting 17%, you’re not going to get to notice whether you’re just going to be happy. While I beat the standard and Taurus, you know, and we bet these developers, the second thing that we’re building is, which is very powerful, is if you talk to like corporations, they tell you, we would love to invest in the hood, we just can’t find any deals that are $25 million. Because they have a threshold, they can’t put their money. I mean, their lawyers are $500 an hour, they can’t do some $1 million deal in the hood. Like the when you do the economics, it doesn’t make sense. We are building a supply chain, a national supply chain of black developers all over the country, that, you know, we can basically operate as a font of a font. That’s the direction that we’re going. And that’s what we’re building. And that’s what our Jewish friends are. Our Asian friends, our Indian friends and I are friends. And I’m going to tell you a joke to help I think highlights. You know, it’s not so much a joke. Secondly, a friend of mine that was really nice to date, she was Indian. And she told me that her family when they came to America, two uncles, or father’s in real estate, but she had two uncles, and they both were born in India. And they came here and they became doctors. And they’re respectable, high income earning professionals becoming doctors. Her father was lazy. He was born in America, very lazy. He only got a bachelor’s degree. He was a B plus student didn’t particularly excel academically, he took some time for him in his 20s to find his way. He was corrupted by American values. Now, if you’re a black parent, you’re probably thinking oh my god, you know, my son is doing so well. But you know, Indians become you know, they’re active. They’re known for their economic base, you’re getting in hospital, the you know, the black doctors are from Nigeria. And in the in the, in the rest of the doctors are Indians, Asians and Jews. And so, so anyway, so just the two doctors are here in America, and they’re very embarrassed, great shame of their younger brother, who’s been corrupted with American values. He’s very lazy. So, you know, the younger brother said, you know, I want to be an entrepreneur. I want to do this, you know, some silly stuff. I think what was the business was a very silly business. I want to do like motels, you know, and Something called commercial real estate. And you know, the brothers were, you know, they were embarrassed, but they were happy you found something to play it. So they gave him $100,000. Anyway, long story short, five years later, he bought his mother, the biggest house in town. And he paid off his brothers student loans, their medical school loans. Why? Because what these brothers didn’t understand is that we don’t live in an Education Society in America, we live in a capitalist society, and the younger brother who was corrupted by American values, and so called lazy, he invested in a whole bunch of motels. And if you know anything about traveling, you know that Indians dominate the motel business on the highways, they dominate. And so we could do the same thing. As a people we can come together and put our people to work. If Tyrone has a job, he’ll pay his child support, you know, with for his baby mama, and he won’t be engaging in criminal activity. Yes, they listen, 70% of all black babies in America are born outside of marriage. I’m not advocating, you know, I’m just saying that, you know, every study is so every study states that if two people are married, living in the same house, it’s like having a roommate economics are better. And so, you know, the only time Asians have children out of wedlock is when the father is a black man, you know.
[00:10:31] Nicole Pendergrass I told you guys, this was a firestorm.
[00:10:31] Thomas Lopez-Pierre You know, I mean, if we look at these different groups, they, they are just immensely successful and leveraging capitalism. And instead of being angry at them, I think we need to learn to what they do, right? And reconfigure it to fit our our values and our needs in our community. We have to stop as black people making white folks so rich.
[00:10:58] Nicole Pendergrass So okay, gosh, we need to we need to we definitely need to wrap up with that last statement. I have another question. So, as we know, we are not the majority owner of businesses and real estate and all those kinds of things, and in these opportunities that are in America. And what I have heard somebody say that kind of hit me and made me start thinking differently, is that instead of because, you know, hoping about closing the wealth gap, it’s almost like That’s impossible, like we can increase our net worth. But anytime a black person is doing business, most of the time, the people with opportunities are of other ethnicities. And so you’re helping increase their with your own opportunity where you’re helping increase your family’s position, you’re increasing other families positions at the same time, because maybe your partner together. So how we like addressing that, you know what I mean? Like, were we just worried about increasing our net worth, and how are we getting ownership and stop? Like how you said, stop making other people rich, but we kind of need to partner with people who have opportunities and who have knowledge and resources. So I don’t know Is there is there something? It’s how we do that?
[00:12:15] Thomas Lopez-Pierre It’s a catch 22. It’s like, you know, Robert Smith, who is the billionaire that paid off? What was the school in Atlanta, he paid off their student loans?
[00:12:24] Nicole Pendergrass Yeah, I remember, but I don’t remember what school was.
[00:12:27] Thomas Lopez-Pierre It was a Morehouse, it was yeah, it was Morehouse. It was Morehouse because Howard is in DC. And what’s interesting is, I like talking about Robert Smith and Bloomberg. So Robert Smith and Bloomberg both worked at Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg got disrespected, he wasn’t given the CA CEO position, general partner position. And so he left and he started Bloomberg. And he became a billionaire, very successful. Robert Smith was at Goldman Sachs. And it was making a million dollars a year and his mother was like, Oh, my God, why would you quit? You’re making really good money. This is crazy. But Robert Smith saw what the white boys are doing. And he know, he knew that you’ll never make the real money by working for somebody else. So he quit. He started his own shop. And he invested in something that was new, which was enterprise software. You know, we use it all day, I use Constant Contact LinkedIn, you know, all these type of different software’s b2b, and he made a killing and now he’s a billionaire. And so it’s, it’s hard. You know, it’s hard for black folks to leave their comfortable position. And I’m not advocating that they leave I’m saying, instead of trying to keep up with the Jones, because everybody thinks it’s a Tyrone in the projects, who’s buying, you know, $300 sneakers when he’s on public assistance, you know, as families and public systems. Why would they do that crazy? I’m not going to be critical of them because they don’t know any better. I’m critical of the black professional who has to put their kids in these elite schools. You know, be a member of the private club, drive luxury car, when all they’re doing is spending their disposable income. and putting a couple of dollars in their 401 K, when they should live below their means take that money and invest it in wealth building opportunities. If you’re going to live the Gucci lifestyle, you know the bling, bling lifestyle, do it off passive income, don’t do it off earned income. And so, you know, we need these black professionals. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve talked to black professionals, and they told me Oh, I would love to invest. Right now. I’m renovating my house in the Hamptons. And I’m like, and I’m like, Oh, you have a multifamily in the Hamptons. That’s great. That’s it? No, no, it’s the it’s the family house. I said, so you’re not earning any money off that property. It’s just sitting there until you use it. Yeah, it’s like, yeah, that’s our investment. That’s it. That’s not an investment. like black people. I hate to break into your home, it’s not an investment. Your home is an expense, you have to pay a mortgage for that and you stop paying the mortgage, you get foreclosed on an investment is when you have tenants paying you rent, and if they stop paying you rent, you will evict them. That’s an investment of black people, food for thought. So invest in things that produce cashflow, not things that make you feel like a bourgeois Negro, you know, feeling important because you will achieve some social status, you know, cash flow, people, cash flow, cash flow, cash flow, because as black professionals, you want to make sure you have ***ng money. You want to be able to tell the white man, I’m getting the *** out of this place. *** ya. And so you can’t do that. Because, you know, your, your, your wife expects you to be this important person. You got to pay the, you know, the summer home, you got to go to Martha’s Vineyard, your kids, you know, you are you’re a slave. You’re just a high-paid slave. You know, I teach my children. I said, Listen, I told my son, my son, Mark, as I saw this, I don’t want you to bounce in a ball. I don’t want you being a basketball player and bouncing a ball. I want you to be the person that owns the team and has people bouncing the ball for him. Or her. Like, own the team. Not be the slave on the field. You know, and I feel could be a basketball player, football player or whatever. Own the team. You know, there was LeBron. He was in the paper and LeBron was saying this and saying that and this that the white female that owns the Lakers, she gave she rarely talks to the press, but she got tired of listening LeBron’s mouth so she got told the papers, I own the team. And I made the decision and, you know, good or bad it’s my team all right?
[00:16:29] Nicole Pendergrass Man, well, you know what you have given us a lot to think about you have great thoughts and like your underlying the whole thing about like, having that passive income, like don’t spend earned income on frivolous things trying to keep up with the Joneses. The whole takeaway is have passive income and that can pay for your, you know, expensive lifestyle or the other things that you want in your in those other like the doodads, right?
[00:18:08] Nicole Pendergrass But okay, so I got to ask you the last couple of questions. First, monopoly. I know you played Monopoly.
[00:18:014] Thomas Lopez-Pierre I love it. My favorite game.
[00:18:16] Nicole Pendergrass Good. So in Monopoly, Boardwalk, or Baltic? What is your strategy for winning the game? Which one are you buying? If you can only buy one?
[00:18:26] Thomas Lopez-Pierre Boardwalk.
[00:18:27] Nicole Pendergrass Why?
[00:18:27] Thomas Lopez-Pierre It pays the most. Baltic is you know cost less, but the but the payout is lower.
[00:18:34] Nicole Pendergrass Okay. Got that.
[00:18:35] Thomas Lopez-Pierre But I would still buy all three of those low paying because you know, you’re going to land on it. And you know, I buy the utilities too. All right.
[00:18:42] Nicole Pendergrass So you’re well, you’re well rounded. Diversify. That leads me actually to my next question. Warren Buffett said that diversification is protection against ignorance. And I kind of take that to mean that people diversify when they don’t really know what they’re doing to spread their risk around. But and that could be a good thing or a bad thing. But like, what are your thoughts on that? What do you think that statement means?
[00:19:04] Thomas Lopez-Pierre Well, you know, we’re raising a million dollars this year to give us a strong track record. I’m not investing a million dollars one property, I’m investing a million dollars in 10 properties. I’m not investing a million dollars in four properties afford a million each. I’m investing 100,000 in the 10 properties, and I believe in diversifying, and so it makes sense and not just in we’re investing in the northeast, so Baltimore, Philadelphia, DC, Boston, I mean, I was just in Boston this weekend, we put $100,000 in a teardown situation with a black Real Estate Developer there. And we’re very excited about that. And so yeah, I love diversity. And we’re not putting all our money with any one developer, we’re going to have 10 developers. And so listen, I’m the stupid guy in the room. And I want to profit from the brilliance of these guys that are on the ground. You know, they, there’s a, there’s a movie called jobs. So talk about Steve Jobs and Apple. And in the movie, he was arguing what is number two? And as number two said to him, why does your name get to be the name of the company, you’re not an engineer, you’re not a coder, you’re not this, you’re not that. And Steve Jobs turned to him and told him, you know, you would be nothing but an overpaid engineer in the basement. If it wasn’t for me, I said, the reason my name gets to be on the companies, because I’m the one that had division. And so I have people, I have 120 members, all smarter than me, half of the Ivy League educated and ungrateful for their brilliance and their intellect and their inner capital. But, you know, I’m the one that had the vision to organize a National Fund to build wealth and create jobs for black people. And I’m grateful for their support. And you know, and three generations from now, my family’s going to be like, Wow, we’re glad that our great great grandfather thought of this.
[00:21:00] Nicole Pendergrass Yeah. Oh, my gosh, that’s so fantastic. And Thomas, how can people get in touch with you? Should they reach out to you on social media? Should they email?
[00:21:11] Thomas Lopez-Pierre They can, they can definitely find me on LinkedIn, I have 24, over 24,000 connections on LinkedIn. And what’s interesting, my connections on LinkedIn, I got no school teachers, social workers, connections on LinkedIn, all my all my I have over 5000 doctors, and I’m connected to on LinkedIn, primarily on LinkedIn. I’m connected to lawyers, doctors, real estate developers and professionals, and Wall Street types. And regulators like it used to work for Fannie Mae or the Federal Reserve and sec, I love connecting to you. And so if you’re one of those types, definitely want to connect to otherwise email me directly at my, my website, blmref.com. And I’m a reachable guy, I’ll take a phone call with you. And, and I listen, I share information. You know, I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 25 years old. I have not worked with a white man, I’m 53 years old, I have not worked for the white man and 28 years. And I’ve never gone hungry. And because I’ve been smart about how I how I manage my finances, and I really believe that the only way to true wealth is to have you know, *** me money, and to be financially secure. Like, I don’t care what white people say, I don’t care what white people think. I don’t even care what other black people think. Like, I’m like, if you’re not one of my investors, like really your opinion, you know, it’s an opinion.
[00:22:32] Nicole Pendergrass All right. And actually, I think it’s like, it’s *** money. The *** money.
[00:22:38] Thomas Lopez-Pierre Yeah, I’m sorry. Did I say me? I said, right. Yeah.
[00:22:41] Nicole Pendergrass Okay. Yeah, but anyway, this is probably the most risque episode we’ve had so far. So glad that you came what man this is, people’s minds are going to be blown.
[00:22:59] Thomas Lopez-Pierre Somebody told me said, you know, Thomas, why do you get to say two things. I said, you know why I get to say the things I want. Because I don’t work for anybody. It’s like, I can put anything I want on social media. And I don’t have to worry about the human resources department calling me and saying we didn’t like what you say, you know, I fire client. If my clients become too much of a pain, I’m like, Yeah, that’s not working.
[00:23:21] Nicole Pendergrass Okay, that’s a whole nother conversation because I’ve definitely heard that too. It’s all about your internal peace. We got to go. We got to go. Okay. Thank you so much for coming on. Excellent. Thank you for listening. And thank you, Thomas. All right.
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