Building Foundations: How My Experience as a Construction Laborer Shaped My Investment Ethos

It’s 2004, you’re 15, you find yourself enveloped in the early morning tranquility of a picturesque town nestled in the foothills of Northern California. The world around you is waking up, painted in the soft hues of dawn. Before you lies the sprawling expanse of the Serrano Country Club, an epitome of luxury and exclusivity, its meticulously manicured greens bathed in the golden morning light.

The air is filled with the invigorating scent of freshly cut grass from the golf course, a scent that seems to symbolize both affluence and leisure. The soundscape is a lively mix of light-hearted banter and laughter from the assembling golfers. As you move through the people headed to breakfast or the first hole, you are a silent observer in a world that feels both incredibly close and yet a universe away.

This world, one of wealth and privilege, is a stark contrast to your own reality. While the scene around you epitomizes a certain American dream, you are here not as a participant but as an outsider looking in. Your presence in this rarified environment is not the result of familial connections or a privileged upbringing. Instead, you are effectively the help.

Your journey to this point began earlier in the morning, pedaling your bicycle through the entrance of the Serrano Country Club. This was not a leisurely ride but a commute to a grueling day’s work. You are here to spend over 12 hours of your Sunday laboring under the searing heat of a 100-degree day. Your role is that of a construction laborer, toiling away on one of the luxury homes in the exclusive gated neighborhood that surrounds the country club. Meanwhile your peers, predominantly the offspring of these affluent individuals, spend their summer Sundays indulging in leisurely activities like boating on the local lake.

This experience, this stark juxtaposition of worlds, shapes your vision of the future. You are the proverbial ‘poor kid’ in a rich town, a unique vantage point that offers you an intimate glimpse into a lifestyle and a class of people that are often the subject of speculation and intrigue. Your exposure to this world and its inhabitants is an education in itself, one that comes at a cost not measured in tuition fees but in physical labor, sweat, and a certain sacrifice of dignity. It is a bittersweet reality, where the price of proximity to wealth and success is paid through the toil of your own hands and the resilience of your spirit.

Each swing of the hammer, each bead of sweat rolling down your forehead, is a testament to your determination and your unique position at the crossroads of two very different worlds. This experience, arduous as it may be, is shaping you, molding your ambitions, and providing you with a perspective that is both rare and invaluable. In this dichotomy of privilege and labor, you are forging your path, one that is informed by the realities of both the world you come from and the one you witness.

20 years on reflecting on these times it becomes clear this experience was more than just a chapter in my life; it laid the foundation for the character traits that make me who I am today as an investment fiduciary. To me, those traits can be qualified as the following.

  • Resilience and Perseverance – Each day spent under the scorching sun, each drop of sweat that fell, prepared me for the unpredictable and often challenging terrain of real estate investment. In this industry, where uncertainty is the only certainty, my ability to stay steadfast, to push through the hurdles to success, echoes those long, arduous days of physical labor.
  • Strong Work Ethic – A trait that was both a necessity and a survival tool, now serves as one of my greatest assets. In real estate investment, diligence and an unwavering commitment to quality and thoroughness are paramount. This ethic ensures that every venture I undertake is approached with the utmost dedication and meticulousness.
  • Strategic Perspective – Having a foot in two different worlds provides a unique vantage point for understanding various aspects of society and the economy. This perspective is invaluable in strategic decision-making, especially in identifying and capitalizing on investment opportunities.
  • Empathy and Social Awareness – Experiencing life as an outsider in a wealthy community develops empathy and a deep awareness of social and economic disparities. This can lead to a more considerate approach in dealings that involve diverse stakeholders, enhancing the ability to build trust and rapport.
  • Adaptability – Moving between two very different worlds fosters adaptability and flexibility. In real estate investment, being adaptable is key to managing various aspects of projects and adjusting strategies in response to changing market dynamics.
  • Appreciation for Hard-Earned Success – Having worked physically while being in proximity to wealth helped me value the effort required to achieve success. This fostered a principled approach to investment and business dealings, prioritizing sustainable and ethical practices.
  • Grounded Realism – Existing in the arduous reality of a construction worker while being exposed to privileged aspects of society instilled a sense of grounded realism in me. In real estate, this helps in making practical, well-informed decisions that consider both the potential gains and the inherent risks.


Reflecting on these early experiences, it’s evident how they sculpted not just my character but also my principles as an investment fiduciary. Those years spend as a lost youth at the intersection of contrasting worlds, now guide me in navigating the complex landscapes of finance and investment, ensuring that each decision is as informed by the heart and soul of my past as it is by the knowledge and experience of my present.