Robert Martinez on Why Size Matters in Real Estate
And how he learned this the hard way.
In this series called Member Showcase, we publish interviews with members of The Oracles. This interview is with Robert Martinez, founder and CEO of Rockstar Capital, a real estate investment firm in Houston, Texas. It was condensed by The Oracles.
Who are you?
Robert Martinez: I am an investor in multi-family real estate and the founder and CEO of Rockstar Capital. We have $285 million in assets under management and $71 million in investor capital — and we’re still growing.
At first, real estate was a way to generate passive income on the side when I worked in oil and gas sales. Eventually, I turned it into a full-time career that I love. We own more than 3,200 units today, and I’m documenting my journey to acquiring 10,000 units on YouTube and other social media channels.
What are you more skilled at than most people in the world?
Robert Martinez: I’m skilled at team building and have a great deal of empathy. You meet many people in life who are talented, and they may win in the short term. But those who win in the end are the ones with heart, empathy for those around them, and a strong work ethic. Most importantly, they make those around them better and lift them up so they can be successful too.
I believe those qualities beat talent any day of the week. I make sure my team embodies that in everything they do.
What excites you the most about your business right now?
Robert Martinez: The unknown. We are beginning to find momentum and the possibilities are unreal. The goals we are setting now felt so far away at one point, but I believe we can achieve the impossible. There's a long way to go, but chasing those goals and exploring the possibilities excites me.
What’s your favorite quote?
Robert Martinez: “If you don’t like your situation, do something about it and choose happiness.” I am in control of my situation and my choices. If something unexpected happens that I’m not prepared for, I can choose how I react and make the best of that situation.
Much of life is based on our reactions to our circumstances. I choose to always lead with optimism and positivity. Life’s too short for negativity.
What was your biggest, most painful failure?
Robert Martinez: When I entered the Class A multifamily real estate market, I purchased a small property with 51 units instead of going all in on a property with 100 to 300 units. I learned quickly that size matters in real estate.
With only 51 units, I had limited rental income, so I couldn’t afford the best talent or a ton of marketing. At the same time, my competition had 200 to 500 units, with more income at their disposal. We were vying for the same renter, especially when there were fewer in the market. It was also difficult to sell the property later because investors already knew the lesson I had learned the hard way.
We adapted and made the best of the situation. I learned that it’s important to have an edge over your competitors. (For us, that’s reputation management and social media.) When the economy collapses, you need to be able to navigate the stormy waters. We survived the 2008 financial crisis and Hurricane Harvey, and I know we will continue to power through more tough times and come out strong.
How do you define great leadership?
Robert Martinez: Great leaders understand that even though they have an important role to play, they are not better than anyone else. They understand the responsibilities that come with leading a team.
Great leaders also lead by example and clearly communicate their standards. You should have a strong work ethic and work at least as hard as your team. I personally don’t expect them to work as hard as I do, but my team is aware of their benchmarks.
How do you evaluate a good business deal?
Robert Martinez: When I’m evaluating a property, I envision the exit strategy and reverse engineer the steps I need to get there. That means I need to know two things.
First, I need to picture the ideal buyer who will purchase the property from me in five to 10 years. Then I need to know that I can make the property an ideal acquisition for them, even if that means adding amenities, renovating, or deploying other strategies from our Rockstar playbook.
In addition to a return on investment, the goal is that renters can continue to live there happily for the next 20 to 30 years.
What’s your daily routine for success?
Robert Martinez: I stay busy and productive, which stems from having a clear vision and targets. I check my emails and messages in the morning and at night. Also at night, I assess any tasks that didn’t get done and prioritize them for the next day.
I make my health a priority by exercising. Being disciplined is crucial because many small wins eventually add up to major success.
What do you want to accomplish in the next three years?
Robert Martinez: I want to continue to make a positive impact on those around me. I want to look back and have no regrets about the decisions I’ve made, even though I know I will make the wrong call sometimes. I am humble enough to admit that I made the wrong decision and to come up with a solution.
I want to continue to expand the Rockstar family. It can be lonely at the top, and it’s much better to win as a team. Then you can share your success stories with others who help make you better personally and professionally.
I also want to disseminate my message to millions of people through my YouTube show and other social media channels. We are just getting started, and it will be fun to look back and see how far we have grown and the success we have achieved.
What do you want to be known for, or what do you want your legacy to be?
Robert Martinez: I want to make a difference in people’s lives and leave an impact on everyone I meet. I am a huge advocate for helping others, whether that’s through volunteering at a soup kitchen, fundraising for breast cancer, or supporting other causes.
When it’s all said and done, people won’t care whether I build a billion-dollar empire or acquire 10,000 units — but they will remember how I make them feel.