Andrew Cushman is a Chemical Engineer turned real estate investor who started flipping...
Investing in Coastal Markets, Taking the Path Less Traveled, and a Positive Mindset with Cliff Cheung and Joyce Shangkuan
Cliff Cheung is a CPA formerly with PricewaterhouseCoopers who shifted to help smaller businesses with strategy and tax planning. Joyce Shangkuan is CPA turned realtor and real estate investor.
Together they’ve made real estate investing a core part of their long-term strategy and have succeeded in two intimidating major coastal cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
What You’ll Learn In Today’s Episode:
- Cliff and Joyce questioned the wisdom of the traditional retirement path and chose to take a different direction. After looking around at what other successful people were doing, they started to pursue financial independence through real estate investing. It’s your life, make it count!
- Be deliberate in what you want to do, and how you want to achieve.
- They invest in two of the most competitive markets in the country, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It’s the oldest rule in real estate, “Location, location, location.”
- Anything is possible in this country, take ownership of your life.
Ideas Worth Sharing:
“We work really hard, and we try our best, but I think mindset is kind of the secret sauce if you will, that can really can help leapfrog you in the face of adversity and challenges.” – Cliff Cheung
“We both think that financial freedom is more important than having a house.” – Joyce Shangkuan
“Take inventory of what you have, and be grateful for what you have.” – Joyce Shangkuan
Resources In Today’s Episode:
- Joyce Shangkuan: Instagram | LinkedIn |Email
Enjoy the show? Use the Links Below to Subscribe:
Cliff: Hey Mark. How’s it going?
Joyce: Hey Mark, thanks for having us.
Mark: Thanks for joining me. So let’s jump in. I like your story. How did you ultimately end up in real estate investing?
Cliff: I was born and raised in San Francisco. My mom grew up in San Francisco, but my dad grew up in Hong Kong. I grew up very much having the default American dream ingrained in my head. I became a CPA primarily because my dad and my aunt who’s my current boss. And I always thought that my route in life would be to climb the corporate ladder, get a high paying job, buy a big house, start a family, and then sail off into the sunset once I retire. And I always had this thought in my head like, Oh, well, once I retire, those are my golden years. And that’s when I’d finally get to enjoy everything.
Mark: You called that the 40, 40, 40?
Cliff: Yes. So it’s the 40, 40, 40 plan. So work at least 40 hours a week for 40 years, at least. And then retiring on and living off of 40% less income than when you were working.
Mark: Oh. Okay.
Cliff: So 40 years, 40 hours, 40 years and potentially 40% less income.
Mark: I’d never heard that.
Cliff: So I have really observed this from a lot of people that I’ve worked with. Some family friends. I’ve been in San Francisco now for almost 30 something years. So I’ve seen the passing of generations and seeing this plan play out for a lot of people, it really made me reconsiders and thinks how to reframe and shape our goals.
Mark: Yes. Do something different.
Cliff: Yes. As you had alluded to earlier, I did work with PWC and I studied accounting to become a CPA. And I worked with many clients in the real estate industry, aircraft, leasing banking, and FinTech. And this really gave me the opportunity to work with a lot of great clients. And it taught me to think very critically and to see things in ways that I might not have otherwise had I not had the experience. And it also taught me to work really long hours.
Cliff: Yes. And then after working at PWC for several years, I really thought is this all that life could be, I was getting a little burned out and I felt like everyone was repeating max out your 401k, stay here for partner track, wait until promotion day. It’s going to be great. All you have to worry about is busy season. Things will be better after busy season and as each year progressed for me personally, things always got busier and I always felt like something was still missing.
Mark: Sure. Squeezing out your life little by little.
Cliff: Yes. So during that time, I was slowly beginning to work with my aunt. Who’s had a tax practice in San Francisco for the last few decades and some of her clients were actually in real estate working with her and seeing not only the benefits of having your own business, but also investing in real estate. It really made me begin to second guess, particularly with the 401k maxing out, just to get the employer contribution. I was like, hmm, well, it doesn’t really make sense to put money that I can’t touch until I’m 59 1/2 because that’s quite a ways away. I saw a lot of clients and a lot of friends that we knew that had invested in San Francisco had invested in LA or other very high cost cities. And some people were able to retire at a very young age, some as young as 46 to 50. And they were able to really live lives that I thought was the American dream.
Mark: Sure. The envy of you working 60 hours a week.
Cliff: I saw that and I was like, man, it doesn’t really make sense. I’m working so hard. I’m paying a lot of taxes and one perspective that I couldn’t really appreciate; at least working in a corporate environment was that if as a business owner or as a real estate investor, I did have certain expenses. I was able to deduct that against my income. So not only am I making decent money as potentially an investor or a business owner. I’m also able to build connections with people and also write off some of those expenses versus in a corporate setting where if I wanted to start a business, I would need to save after tax money and pay lots of taxes first.
Mark: I had the same realization being in the entertainment business and then getting into real estate, the vast difference in taxation on the entertainment side, that’s 50% tax. And then beyond tax, we have agents and managers and lawyers. So your ultimate take home is like 40% of what your gross income is.
Cliff: Yes. And having that perspective and having that insight really made me re-evaluate the 40, 40, 40 plan because I was like, do I really want to pay this much taxes for the next 40 years? It really made me evaluate what I was doing not only from my corporate background; do I just want to help corporations? Like why not help individuals with their businesses through working with my aunt? It really has given me a greater appreciation for helping people because I can see how we are very tangibly helping our clients.
Mark: And so how did you get into real estate?
Cliff: So our first deal in real estate was in May of 2012. I had never owned a house to today. I was maxing out my 401k and my aunt had a client who due to some financial issues wanted to involve us into his investment property. And the investment property was in Los Feliz in LA. And it was a 12 unit apartment building. And prior to that, I really had no experience in investing. Again, my only form of investing was in my 401k and my IRA. So I considered myself a moderate investor. And after investing, I slowly began to learn about rent rolls, occupancy rates, and some construction. And it gave me insight into how the industry worked and also how challenging it was, but how beneficial potentially that it was.
Mark: So you partnered with a client of yours in the Los Feliz Los Angeles property?
Cliff: Correct. Correct. So we bought in to become partners and I feel like we were very lucky in that project, but at the same time, I think it was because we had such an open heart and open mind that when the opportunity arose, we were really able to take advantage of it.
Mark: That’s somewhat of a unique situation where someone who has owned the building for a long time invites you to be a partner in that. Hopefully it was a good opportunity.
Cliff: Yes. Yes. It was a great opportunity. He was very familiar with some of the management and construction and that were areas that we did not have as much experience in, but because we are CPAs, we do tax returns and we do books. We were able to bring value to his operations from that standpoint. And it made for a very great partnership.
Mark: Do you guys have a joint plan to grow your assets, which include what real estate sounds like?
Cliff: Yes. We really took the time to sit down and evaluate again the course of our lives and how going the traditional 40, 40, 40 route, what that would look like from a lifestyle perspective, from raising a family and being able to achieve and do the things that we wanted to do together.
Joyce: And we constantly talk about what our goals are. We often talked about what we want to do with our life, and we took stock of what our advantages are and what we have in our life that we can take advantage of. So I think that constant conversation between the two of us was really helpful.
Mark: That’s impressive to me. I’ve had the benefit of knowing you both and you are very proactive and you’re planners.
Cliff: We were thinking about potentially buying a house in San Francisco, which we barely might have been able to afford with a complete white picket fence. Although it would have been a small white picket fence, but we realized that that would only have tied us down more potentially. And in order to do some of the things that we wanted to do, we weren’t necessarily sure if that was the best route.
Mark: So you decided not to buy a house, you went straight into investing in multi-family, right?
Joyce: We both think that financial freedom was more important than having a house we were willing to wait until later in our years, when we do have some more financial freedom and have more disposable income to really buy maybe our dream house, a bigger white picket fence.
Mark: Right. You communicate about finances, which a lot of people don’t, a lot of couples don’t and having that open conversation and being able to make adjustments along the way is pretty amazing.
Joyce: Yes. San Francisco is a very expensive rental market and we’re very fortunate because Cliff grew up in San Francisco. We actually live in the house that he grew up in. It’s a two story house and we live in the bottom floor and his mom lives upstairs. So she’s basically our landlord. So that’s kind of our way of house hacking. We do see a lot of our friends trying to move out of the house that they grew up in because they simply just don’t want to live with their parents anymore. But although there are pros and there are cons of living with his mom, I think the long-term benefit totally outweighs the limitations that we have to endure right now.
Mark: Sure. I love living at home. I lived at home until I was like 24, 25 and my wife Lynn; I was dating her at the time. She made me move out and get an apartment,
Joyce: But that’s kind of our way of house hacking and save money that way.
Mark: So what have you done since that Los Feliz property?
Joyce: After the Los Feliz property Cliff was, or we were very eager to find our next deal. And we wanted to mingle with different investors and find someone who is years ahead of us, who can probably share more of a knowledge and experience. And so we were going to networking events in San Francisco pretty aggressively, but we were never meeting anyone. So one day I was telling Cliff, I was like, Hey, I think we should maybe change our strategy our networking strategy a little bit. At the time we had already been listening to bigger pockets for a while now. So we were pretty familiar with how the pockets work but we haven’t signed up on the forum where a lot of investor mingles.
Cliff: So just echoing Joyce’s sentiment. I was becoming increasingly frustrated because I did see how after we invested in the 12 unit building, how we were able to reap the benefits of not only providing a safe and thoughtfully designed place for tenants to live, we were really able to benefit financially and have some money coming in some cash flow as a result of properly managing the property. So after I discovered this, I was like, Oh my God, I want to share this with the world. And I wanted to try to find other people that were interested in a similar investment. And I was talking to current clients, people I saw at the gym, some of my friends, even about real estate and real estate investing, but I was so disappointed because every time I would bring this conversation up to people, everyone was either disinterested or they would say something along the lines of, well, that sounds great, but I need to buy my primary residence and pay it off first. Then I can think about investing.
Mark: I have the exact same experience.
Cliff: Oh really?
Mark: After my first half dozen multi-family properties, I was an evangelist preaching real estate investing to everybody that I knew, everybody that I worked with in the entertainment business. And none of them would do it. I was shocked. It was a head scratcher why wouldn’t anybody else do this? It’s such a great thing. And then eventually they were like, well, you won’t stop talking about this. So why don’t you find something? And we’ll give you some investment dollars. You had the same experience?
Cliff: Yes. I guess we had the same exact experience. So Joyce had suggested, “Oh, why don’t you go on bigger pockets and try to network more intentionally with people who are in this space.” And I was listening to a podcast and it was about some guy in LA who is a writer for Family Guy. And during that time I was like, oh, this guy sounds really nice and knowledgeable. And at the time we were looking for a new management company, so she encouraged me to, to reach out and I did
Mark: That’s right. I forgot about that. So that’s how we first connected is you guys were looking for a management company in LA.
Cliff: Correct. Correct. And right after that, we switched to this management company, they’ve been very helpful since, and around the same time this writer for Family Guy was putting together a deal and he asked us if we wanted to participate. And we were trying to go through the motion of refinancing our property at the time and looking at new properties. But we realized just how difficult it was partially because of money and the high cost per door. But because we didn’t have as much scale and distance really wasn’t an issue, but it was not having as much volume from like a deal standpoint and a construction standpoint. It made things less economically viable. And after looking at the deal from the syndicator, we were like, wow, this really makes sense. And we thought of it as being on a great team. We wanted to find a good team and be a good team player.
Mark: Sure. And it could be a good way to learn riding along with someone else. And I don’t want to advertise, but yes. syndications is a way to invest passively.
Cliff: Yes. And I think just taking responsibility and being open to different potential investment opportunities, I think that’s really what benefited us for our second deal. When I was working with this syndicator, I made it known like, Hey, if there are any opportunities for me to utilize some of my skills that I’ve acquired professionally, I would really like to take the initiative to help not only the syndicator, but help my investment. And I think by taking ownership that can really provide any, anyone looking for opportunities through skillsets that they’ve built to get more involved in real estate investing.
Mark: When you were down in LA, we would have breakfast or lunch and could see how disciplined you were, how organized you were and savvy you were in finances. And I eventually was like, I would love to have you look at how we’re running our accounting and help us because there are a lot of facets to what I was doing as an operator. And it was a big relief for me to bring in someone who’s a professional.
Joyce: I know Cliff has been very disciplined before we connected with you. And while we were aggressively networking, he’s always on LoopNet. He’s always in the gym. When he has a downtime, he’ll check on LoopNet and see whether there’s a deal. He created his own deal analyzer. So it’s basically what people on bigger pockets tell you. You have to do your homework; you have to do your own due diligence. You have to be constantly looking and analyzing to equip yourself with the knowledge. So when you do see a deal comes across then you know it’s a deal.
Mark: Now, if you’re enjoying the show, please do us an easy favor and hit the subscribe button. And if you like the show, please give us a five star review. As a listener I always wondered why podcast hosts are always begging me to subscribe and rate them. Well, now that I’m on the other side, I see why. It allows other listeners to find you. So here I go. If you like the show, please subscribe and give us a five star review. I like doing it. And more importantly, in an era of unprecedented hype over real estate investing, my goal is to be a truth teller. Real estate is not as easy as it’s made out to be, but you can do it. If you can get past the hype and get to the truth. My aim is for this show to help with that. Anyway, let’s get back to the show
Joyce: A little bit about myself. I was born in Taipei, Taiwan and grew up there until I was 10. And then my whole family moved to Shanghai and I finished the remainder of my schooling there. And when we moved to Shanghai in 2002, I was born in 1992. It was just beginning to turn into a bustling city that it is now. And my parents’ goal of moving there was mainly to broaden our worldview, which it definitely did. It allows me to see so many different things that I probably wouldn’t have seen being able to see if I were to stay in Taipei, going to a local school, because I was enrolled into a semi international school in Shanghai where I can practice English, learn English and was getting all the education that gears towards a Western education, which eventually led me to attending University of Washington.
So I kind of have a similar ish route as Cliff that I also study in accounting at UDaB. And I actually also landed a job at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Since we started dating, we’ve always talked about the different investment that we wanted to do. And ever since he was involved in the Los Feliz deals, we started talking about real estate a lot more. And since then, once we’ve started to get to know the business partner that was involved in that deal, he is about 30, 40 years senior than us. So he has a lot of life stories and he’s also from Hong Kong and he will always tell us about the different people that came into his life. That kind of changed his life trajectory, which was really interesting to me because in the term that he use, it’s called quarian which in Chinese culture, where there’s a lot of emphasis on symbolism, fade and sometimes superstitious belief the word literally means expensive person or someone who brings a lot of value or more eloquently a noble man.
So it means someone who enters your life at a pivotal moment and helps to propel you in a positive direction by sharing their wisdom experience and advice. And so I guess the closest English term would be a mentor, but a nobleman can actually be anyone. They don’t have to be someone who is more senior or experienced than you. Just someone who says, or does something that sparks a change in your mind that results in a different life trajectory.
Mark: I like that.
Joyce: So when we have more interactions with him, he would tell us about his life story, there are so many noble men in his life, because he was a hairstylist. He was a pretty new immigrant, became a hairstylist. It’s something that’s so far away that you think he’d become a real estate investor. And he now has how many units?
Cliff: 20, 24. At one point to put it in perspective, when he was growing up in Hong Kong, he lived in an apartment with eight different family members that were probably no more than 600 square feet. And they didn’t even have a refrigerator. He would always tell me stories. He would see cockroaches just running across his food because they didn’t really have much opportunity that they would still eat the food. That really sparked a change in my perception because this quarian, this noble man. He actually played a pivotal role alongside with my aunt in helping us to reframe the way we saw things and to really rethink like, oh, well, if I’m maxing out my 401k, is that really the best possible investment option? Or did someone tell me that? And then I thought that that was my own thinking.
Mark: So he helped you question that 40, 40, 40 path and not doing it a different direction to try something that might be more effective.
Joyce: Yes. Totally. I don’t think we would happen as open to it if it weren’t for him because he basically presented an opportunity and it started to prompt us the question, the 40, 40, 40 that we’ve been educated to think in that box.
Mark: Awesome. That’s great. So a lot of people who listen and the perception in much of the podcast world is that investing in cities like San Francisco in Los Angeles are impossible or undoable. What do you guys see as the benefits and the challenges of trying to invest in these coastal cities?
Joyce: First of all, it’s very straightforward. Land is very valuable because the location is very desirable and plus the job market, usually a lot more desirable as well, the geo-economy. And then the second thing is it’s high barrier to entry. So your investment is generally very well protected because building costs are extremely high. So it’s very expensive to build something. So it would take a very experienced and very qualified investor to jump in.
Mark: Right and navigate the permit and all those regulations.
Joyce: Right. And just to go off on that too. Yes. Coastal cities tend to have stricter and more regulations as well. There are always opportunities in those details. And the third thing is that there’s super strong demand if you’re in a good location. So for example, in San Francisco and in the pockets in LA that we invest in the vacancy rates are usually very low. The occupancy rates, usually in the mid 90% pre COVID that is, I’m not too sure how this whole pandemic will effect, although I think it should be quite inelastic, but we shall see. And then the last one is just, the appreciation can be realized upon sale because in coastal city, because of all the aforementioned characteristic that makes the property appreciates quite significantly in five to seven years.
Mark: And I was surprised, I didn’t hear a podcast about real estate until maybe after 10 years into my multi-family investing career. And I started listening to these podcasts and everybody said, you can’t invest in major cities, go for cash flow. You never buy a product older than 80’s construction. And I was like, Oh my God, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. All those things. I was always confused. It’s like, why wouldn’t you invest in a city where there is huge demand and your dollars are protected. The oldest rule of real estate that’s a thousand years old is location, location, location.
Cliff: Yes. And I think that’s only half the battle cash flow obviously is very important, but also knowing your current market and how the different areas around you, such as in LA there’s so many different pockets, just like San Francisco as well. But I also think that there’s tremendous opportunity kind of like Joyce just touched on some of the benefits. There are challenges, but there are also huge opportunities. A few challenges first are high cost per unit and high costs per square foot. If you are just starting out in your investing career, say you just graduated. You might have a little bit of student debt. This can be very prohibitive, but it also means that if you do get in that your investment is generally well-protected. And as long as you are prudent with your management style, you can hold onto the property.
Another challenge is tenant friendly rules such as rent control. So Mark like you said, yes, it’s very difficult in California, particularly when there are such strict tenant friendly rules. However, upon moving out, there is a possibility that you can increase your rent to market, which I’m sure a lot of your listeners understand cap rates. If you can increase your rent by a 1000 or $2,000 a month upon a tenant, moving out at a 3% cap rate or a 4% cap rate that can add hundreds of thousands of dollars of value to a property,
Mark: Right. The GRMS, the fact that the multiple is as high as it is. And given that the cap rates are as compressed as they are every hundred dollars that you increase in NOI has a significant impact on the value.
Cliff: Correct? Correct. And another opportunity is also a value adding to some of the properties or to some of the units that we’ve purchased by improving the units. We’ve been able to increase our rents quite significantly, such as adding a washer, dryer, adding garbage disposals, adding things that in some more expensive markets are generally more cost prohibitive. I think that in some of the markets where 100 to 200 unit apartment buildings are very common, a lot of these amenities come standard, but in some older inventory, that’s on the market in California, in San Francisco and LA, some of these amenities are really not standard. And if you can add modern amenities to older style buildings, I think that’s a really nice niche that a lot of people have not really discovered and riches are in the niches.
Mark: So maybe we could move on to something I call multi-family psychotherapy. What’s a trait you possess that has served you best both in real estate and in life.
Cliff: One of the major traits that has served us, or I’ll just say me is really being open minded, having an open heart and knowing that my investment style and even my life, it’s really an iterative process where I constantly need to challenge what I know and to try to obtain new information and meet different people.
Mark: I love that.
Joyce: I can speak for the both of us. Another aspect that we really want to emphasize on and try to practice every day is just to take responsibility because everything in your life is a direct result of the decision that you make. So there’s a quote that we really like. It’s from Spiderman. It goes as “With power comes great responsibility”, but the more and more we realize that opposite is also true too. It’s because when you have more responsibility, you also get more power.
Mark: That’s awesome. I love that. How about, are there any traits that hold you back that you feel like you still need to work on?
Joyce: For me? I know that everything is a result of my decision, but then in the process of getting to that result, I need to make sure. I can’t just tell myself like, Oh, if I fail, it’s my fault, but then how can I do it next time when I have more accountability, when I say I’m going to do something I’m seeing it through so that I actually make it and not just fail on it and say that, Oh, it’s actually my fault.
Cliff: And I would say for me, responsibility is also a double sided sword. I think anyone in life can become very steadfast and very fixed mind-set with regards to information that they either have recently acquired, or that they have known for a long period of time. And being able to incorporate new information as it becomes available or seeing how maybe some old information that you’ve learned is no longer relevant. I would say it’s a very difficult process. It requires you to acknowledge that maybe you aren’t always right. And that maybe some information that you thought was right from someone else that you admire maybe is not right for this particular thing such as real estate. So one might be a very successful accountant or a very successful actor or actress, but sometimes advice that you might receive from an accountant actor actress might not be as beneficial to you as say a real estate investor.
Mark: I like it. I like it. How big of a role do you think mind-set plays in your success?
Cliff: Well, I think mind-set really is everything. Mind-set is kind of the least stress thing. I think it wasn’t until we kind of got into entrepreneurial ventures that we realized success is predicated on you having a solid foundation. For Joyce and myself, we actually really do consider ourselves to be very average. We work really hard and we try our best, but I think mind-set is kind of the secret sauce. If you will, that really can help leapfrog you in the face of adversity and challenges.
Joyce: Part of mind-set is also to take an inventory of what you have and be grateful for what you have. Growing up in Asia I always feel like people that grew up in America, I always envy them so much because they already know the language that I was learning. They already live in the country that I wanted to live in. But I think right now, thinking back about my journey, I’m really grateful that I actually don’t come from America because I have a more diverse background. I know another language, I have a different worldview and it really hit home when we actually went to Senegal to build a primary school. And we just see how little they have and all they want is just to live, to have a little something that we have. It just puts everything into perspective that we’re so fortunate that we live in a first world country. And a lot of our problem is just first world problem.
Cliff: And also kind of circling back to what Joyce said. It’s really just taking inventory of what opportunities you have so that you can be responsible for your future. Our story’s going to be different from Mark’s story is or what any of the listeners, what their story is, but it doesn’t preclude you from writing your own story just because of whatever you’ve gone through in the past. Hopefully you can use that as a springboard to really get to where you want to be.
Mark: And now our question round.
The book you’ve recommended most over the past year.
Joyce: I would say it’s, Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins.
Cliff: And for me, I would say it’s Finding Ultra by Rich Roll.
Mark: That’s right. Do you have a favorite quote?
Joyce: Mine would be “With great power comes great responsibility” in Spiderman.
Cliff: Mine is not from like a film or both, but it’s kind of just referencing life. The quote goes “If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends. But if egg is broken by an inside force, life begins”, that’s kind of the quote of our lives. And we want our transformation to happen from internally versus external factors.
Mark: I’ve never heard that, profound. What was your favorite movie when you were 15?
Joyce: Mine is a Ratatouille. I watched it on my birthday and cried.
Cliff: Mine was 8 Mile. I didn’t cry, but I was like, Oh man, I might become a rapper one day
Mark: I met Eminem.
Cliff: You did?
Mark: He did a voice for Family Guy on a Sunday morning and I had to meet him at the studio. He was really nice. I expected him to be mean, but he was a polite young gentleman. He took a bunch of posters home with him.
An online tool or app that brings you the most value.
Joyce: Mine would be Sweat it’s a workout app. It got me into strength training and being more tone.
Cliff: And mine would be my Fitness Pal by Under Armour. It has helped us a lot in our fitness and nutrition journey,
Mark: Belly button, innie or outie?
Cliff: I’m in an innie as well.
Mark: Double innie. Your most impressive, totally useless skill.
Joyce: I guess it would be my OCD to clean the house. It’s a total time sucker just to make myself feel good.
Cliff: I used to play a lot of basketball when I was younger. I actually wanted to become an NBA player, but then I stopped growing. So that kind of stunted my aspirations, but I can actually spin a basketball on all 10 fingers. Probably. I think my record is like 10, 15 minutes and I can spin it on like cell phones, pencils, scissors, and like all sorts of random objects.
Mark: That is a totally useless skill. Aside from real estate. The one thing you could spend all day talking about.
Joyce: Healthy eating and lifestyle.
Cliff: Mine would be as well. I think for us, we’ve just found health and lifestyle well-being and balance to be so profound.
Joyce: And we’re both plant-based.
Mark: Plant-based. What decade created the greatest music?
Joyce: I like jazz. So jazz created in any decade, as long as it’s not too avant-garde, I would like it.
Cliff: For me. I would say it’s probably like the 90’s boy bands; actually I wanted to be a singer like a boy band singer.
Mark: What about your basketball career? What high school friend do you want to say hi to right now?
Joyce: I want to say hi to Becky. She’s my high school, best friend. She was going to have her honeymoon in Sicily this May and I’m glad she did it and went to Hawaii last December instead.
Cliff: And my BFF Josh he got married last year and he’s going to have a baby or not him, but his wife’s going to have a baby in a month. So we’re waiting. And hopefully we get out of this shelter and place soon.
Mark: What country has the best accent?
Joyce: British accent. Because they just sound so proper. Although I don’t really understand what they say.
Cliff: I grew up around a lot of people from Singapore that speak English. Have you ever heard the Singlish accent? It’s like rhythmic and upbeat and I can’t even imitate it.
Mark: If you had to make a spy, alias, what would you go by?
Joyce: I want to go by Neo, like in the Matrix, we recently just watched the movie and I just thought it was so awesome and so relatable
Mark: You’ve been in the Matrix.
Cliff: Mine would probably be James Bond. Then if I introduce myself to people, the last thing they would probably ask me is, are you a spy? But come on. Do you think I’m really a spy with the name James Bond? We actually met a James Bond in San Francisco. He’s a realtor.
Mark: What a great name for a realtor. What movie can you quote the most from?
Joyce: Mine would be old gambling movies from Hong Kong in the 80’s.
Mark: Sure. The gambling genre.
Joyce: Because I watched so much of those growing up, but they’re in Mandarin though. Mandarin Chinese
Cliff: Mine would probably be Pineapple Express with James Franco and Seth Rogen. I really liked kind of how goofy those two guys are.
Mark: I’m embarrassed to say, but I’ve never seen that.
Cliff: Oh really? Oh.
Mark: I’ll have to watch it.
Mark: What’s about to get much better.
Joyce: I think everything in the world is about to get much better. If you think it’s going to go worse than you’re going to head into that direction.
Cliff: And along those lines, I would say kind of your attitude and perspective. If you are working on improving that in a positive manner. It’ll improve what you appreciates, appreciate.
Mark: A childhood cartoon character you had a crush on. Now I don’t want this to cause some marital strain.
Joyce: It’s okay. Because mine is not really a human mine is Totoro Miyazaki’s, My Neighbor Totoro. Because my mom’s successfully talked me out of wearing diapers when I was three, because she was like, Oh look, Totoro, he’s not wearing anything and so I stopped wearing diapers.
Cliff: And mine. It’s not really a cartoon character. Harriet, the Spy, Michelle Trachtenberg. I thought she was cute when I was younger.
Mark: Was she like a Nickelodeon actor?
Mark: A kid actor.
Cliff: Yes. That.
Mark: She was cute.
Cliff: Yes. She was really cute. And I was like, Oh, this is a cool movie. And I actually wanted to be a spy when I was younger too.
Mark: If you could have the answer to one question, what would it be?
Joyce: Why are we here?
Mark: Hey, I know it’s not a big podcast, but at least I’m trying.
Cliff: I think for me, it’s what comes after this?
Mark: And finally, when are you happiest?
Joyce: I’m the happiest when I can eat good foods and spend time with loved ones
Cliff: And I would say along those lines as well, but also share it with people because I think there’s really nothing that can replace feeling good about yourself and, and about being able to help people around you.
Mark: Awesome. Last of all, how can listeners reach out to you?
Joyce: For me. They can find me on Instagram. It’s just my first name and last name. Joyce Shangkuan. S-H-A-N-G-K-U-A-N. LinkedIn is the same. First name and last name. Email is L dot my last firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cliff: And for me I’m on Instagram as well. My name is it’s always foggy in San Francisco and my LinkedIn is Clifford Cheung, C-H-E-U-N-G. And my email is Clifford at Cheung, C-H-E-U-N-G and associates plurals dot com.
Mark: Well thank you guys so much for joining me.
Joyce: Thank you so much for having us.
Cliff: Thank you.
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