Nathan Brooks is building community through real estate
Listen to Nathan Brooks tell his story and you may feel a bit like you’re on a rocket ship watching a blur of lives pass by.
As a kid, he displayed an aptitude for music, picking up a variety of instruments including string base, piano, and guitar and developing a passion for the arts, as well as entrepreneurship. As he grew, he enjoyed traveling internationally through his church and the subsequent opportunities to exercise his leadership on mission trips. After college, he dove headfirst into a career as a successful singer-songwriter, captivating audiences and creating records. Then he took his talents to real estate where a series of challenges and a bad-acting partner forced him to declare bankruptcy and step back into music.
He took a full-time staff position at one of the largest Methodist churches in the nation and did a stint as their worship leader. One Sunday during the holiday season, after a long series of holiday services, Brooks came home to his family and realized he wasn’t living the life he wanted to live. Knowing real estate could afford his family the freedom, flexibility, and quality of life they desired and not being someone to shy away from a challenge, he turned his sights back toward it.
“The truth is that if I would have had more liquidity and been more prepared the first time around, I would not have had the issue I had with real estate investing. But I had grown too fast too quickly and I also had enlisted the help and sought information from people, such as this banker, who didn’t actually want to help me. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and I didn’t seek out trustworthy mentors to help me,” he reflected. “That’s really why I’m so passionate about what I’m passionate about now — helping others, building an excellent team, being a mentor— that passion all came out of that [bankruptcy] experience.”
Today, Nathan Brooks is the CEO of a Kansas City-based turnkey real estate company he and his business partner co-founded just five short years ago. His company, Bridge Turnkey Investments, recently received the ranking of #1304 on Inc.’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing, privately held companies in America. To date, they’ve bought, renovated, and sold over 430 turnkey rental properties, added $54.2 million in value to their clients’ portfolios, and started one of the largest real estate investor meetups in the nation (currently pushing almost 9,000 members). But, according to Brooks, they’re just getting started at Bridge Turnkey Investments.
“We are building an incredible team and we have big dreams, not just for ourselves and our team, but for our clients and our community as well. So many people dream about real estate and we get to DO it, and impact lives while doing it,” he said. “It’s what makes this work so exciting and is what has kept me passionate about real estate for so long.”
The version of the company today isn’t exactly how it started.
“Bridge Turnkey Investments started out with the aspiration of my business partner, David, and me buying and holding investment properties for ourselves,” Brooks explained. “We’ve had many versions of our company since that initial launch, but over the years we dialed it in, to a company that buys, renovates, and leases rentals for investors. It took lots of learning (the book Traction has been a massive resource for our company), hiring a business coach to help us implement Traction, and committing to focus on what we’re best at to reach the success we have today. And, even then, we still have tough months and lots to learn. Real estate is exciting that way. There’s always something new.”
Brooks attributes his company’s success in large part to the focus and accountability their business coach brought to their team.
“Once we made a decision of what we were going to do and not do, we got a lot better at understanding who we were as a company and then attracting people who wanted to be here and brought skills we didn’t have. When we focus on the things that matter to us, we attract the people that resonate with that focus, and we get to build something really incredible for ourselves, our team, our clients, and our community.”
More Than a Business
Like any company, to stay in business, you have to make money. But, Brooks was quick to point out, it’s about so much more than that for him and his team.
“We talk to clients every day who have huge dreams for themselves and their families. Those dreams are not unlike the dreams my business partner and I have, or the dreams our team members have for their own families. We all want to create passive income to give ourselves more time with our family, more freedom in our schedules, and more opportunities for the future. We want to build generational wealth. We want to leave behind a legacy. There are few investment vehicles that achieve these goals for people in the way real estate does. And that’s what we get to work on every day at Bridge.”
In addition, he points toward the power of real estate to help investors give generously—whether that be through the wealth they gain through real estate, or in giving back to the community through the homes they provide to the cities they invest in.
“I’ve always had big philanthropic goals, and I believe real estate is going to be the conduit to achieving those goals. Before I leave this earth, I will give away a million dollars a year in perpetuity. Real estate is going to help me do that. On top of that, Kansas City, where the Bridge team lives and invests, has a need for the work that we’re doing. Abandoned houses and lack of quality homes to meet rental demand are real problems we face. It’s a joy to not only beautify the city we love, but to provide a real service in the high-quality rentals we bring to the market for families in Kansas City. I can’t really think of a better, more fulfilling purpose for our business, and it really is what drives me every day.”
Building Community through Real Estate
Aside from his notoriety as a highly accomplished investor and business leader, Nathan Brooks garnered national attention for founding and operating Bridge Real Estate Investing Meetup, which grew to be one of the largest meetups in America in less than a year.
“The meetup is really just a further extension of our mission. We want to help all people build a bridge to wealth and freedom through real estate,” Brooks said of the decision to start Bridge Meetup in 2018. “We are constantly talking about building that bridge to wealth and freedom for ourselves, our team, and our clients. It only felt right to extend that out to our community as well.”
Pre-COVID, the group was meeting monthly with a couple hundred members of the Kansas City community coming together, in person, to connect, learn, help each other, and take action together. The online expression of the group boasts a staggering 92 percent engagement rate with over 8,600 members commenting, posting, recommending, and educating on the platform.
“It’s actually a huge amount of effort to monitor and facilitate that group to ensure we provide value in a positive, helpful forum. But, it’s been totally worth it. The community has responded with enthusiasm and there are stories coming from members who have started investing for the first time because of a connection they made, or businesses with real estate support services increasing their revenue by 300 percent because of referrals from the group. We all get better when we work together and that go-giver attitude is a staple in the Bridge Meetup,” Brooks explained.
A Bright Future
Nathan Brooks has an insatiable desire to be all in and to build something big. With a growing list of successes in his past, he is looking forward to the future. What’s next for Nathan Brooks and Bridge Turnkey Investments?
“Well, we started our New Construction division this year and we couldn’t be more excited about it. We are on pace in 2021 to scale that part of the business and build sixty new homes in Kansas City next year, which our clients can purchase as investment properties. We’ve also got some exciting new opportunities coming down the pike right now that I can’t discuss in detail, but they’re going to be huge for our clients and our company,” he said of Bridge’s future. “Keep an eye on BridgeTurnkey.com,” he explained with a wink when pushed for more details.
Outside of the business, he expressed a desire to continue growing as a leader and achieving balance. “I am finally starting to find the balance between the need to death grip hold what I’m working on and totally letting go of it,” he said. “I’m growing a lot in my patience and my ability to chill, and I plan to keep working on that.”
Sounds like it could be tough for a man so hardwired for action, but to Brooks, that’s part of the fun. “Is it a challenge? Of course! It’s uncomfortable for me to choose something that’s so unnatural. But, I’ve learned to actually seek the discomfort. You see, it’s in the discomfort that the opportunity actually lies.” •