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Exploring Life & Business with Munif Ali of Pacific Playa Realty

Today we’d like to introduce you to Munif Ali.

Hi Munif, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
My start in this life was one that came with no silver spoons or blue-blood relatives eager to share their wealth and experiences with me. My family was a standard American middle class family up until the time I was a toddler, at which point my parents split and my father exited the home. Aside from the obvious emotional stress this put on our family, the sudden change also created a ripple effect in the family’s finances, sending us from middle income to no-income overnight. Let me tell you, low-income is better than no-income because you’re forced to either adapt quickly or face the reality of becoming homeless.

Part of that transition was going from a home that we owned to having to move to the projects in a very short amount of time. I was forced to mature quickly under these circumstances because at the Hunter’s Point housing projects crime and violence were just a common part of daily life. My mom did not allow the sudden upheaval to her life deter her from working hard to ensure that her boys still had the stability and opportunities we needed to get ahead. She immediately took on multiple jobs and sent my older brother to work so that they could save every penny. After several years of working nearly seven days a week, my mom pulled all our money together and was able to buy a house a few blocks outside of the Projects in the same neighborhood but under very different circumstances. After this purchase, my mother would continue investing into other properties and I was amazed to see how quickly an illiterate (immigrant) single mother was able to build wealth by acquiring real estate.

While I was still in high school, I started to read everything I could get my hands on regarding real estate. I continued to feed my appetite after joining the army, watching every infomercial and reading every article I could get my hands on about real estate. While I was still in the service, I syndicated a deal with a friend back home that yielded me a good return on my investment. He bought a duplex and flipped it. After selling the property and everyone getting their money back, there was a sizable profit. This was my first personal success in real estate since I was making almost next to nothing at the time. This experience also taught me that one doesn’t need to have to make a whole lot of money to be able to invest in the market, just a strong work ethic and a desire to succeed.

Being able to purchase our own home again after suffering a major loss and having to sacrifice a lot for a long time instilled such a deep sense of pride in myself that it became the framework for what I chose to do in life. After witnessing the way that real estate transformed my family’s circumstances, I wanted to see every aspect of real estate because it is one of the shortest ways to build wealth. It provides a gateway to financial freedom and provides you with something tangible that you could touch and continue to see develop over many years. I knew that because real estate had served me, I would serve real estate in a way that allowed me to educate a lot of people, especially from underserved communities like my own. I became determined to inspire, train and propel others from blighted situations such as my own through the power of real estate investing.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Like any truly determined entrepreneur, I’ve faced plenty of external challenges. I got my start in real estate early and always looked younger than I am. It was an obstacle until I made it not be an obstacle. It was hard to be taken seriously by everyone in the early years, from contractors and architects to inspectors and loan officers. At the same time, I had seen race a few times and continue to see it play out in business. I don’t see anything as an obstacle, more as a challenge, something to accomplish. When someone has an issue with me; whether it is the color of my skin or my Muslim name and identity, it has nothing to do with me but everything to do with their own self-imposed limitations.

I’m thankful for the external challenges I’ve faced in my career as they have given me insight on how to tackle the internal challenges I deal with. One aspect of my personality that has been a challenge for me is my level of patience and directness when communicating. I have a dominant personality style, and in the past I sometimes lacked the necessary wording to express my dissatisfaction in a way that was tactful. Over the years, I have learned to communicate with a softer approach and rely less on creating a sense of urgency to get things done. My daily rituals of meditation, journaling, and exercise have all led to greater control and thus more measured communication.

I’m grateful for every challenge I have faced in life because they made me realize that nothing can hold me back other than my mindset about the situation. That is what I teach others. I continue to operate from a mindset of gratitude for everything that has gone on in my life, and I find this method of thoughtfulness the ultimate equalizer of things. Because no matter how bad I may have it, someone, somewhere is going through a struggle or a challenge much greater than mine!

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Munif T. Ali is the founder and Executive Chairman of Pacific Playa Realty, an independent urban luxury brokerage with nearly 100-agents in Los Angeles, CA. Founded in April 2017, Pacific Playa Realty was created to serve the urban market with the same focus, marketing, technology and professionalism that you would expect in luxury markets- a mission we continue to champion to this day.

Pacific Playa Realty is the number one brokerage in the five zip codes we focus on and represents a wide range of clients in price points ranging from $850,000 to $3,500,000. With billions of dollars of closed transactions, it continues to dominate in the urban luxury market.

Several factors distinguish Pacific Playa Realty from its competitors: contemporary branding, a simplified formula for success, extraordinary training and hands-on market relevant leadership in a modern facility that fosters an open and collaborative spirit. We focus on training our agents to be the most professional agents in the areas we serve. I was once told by a brokerage owner and territory leader in the franchise that I couldn’t have professional agents because of the communities we serve, and I took that as a challenge to do exactly that; build a network of professional and expertly trained real estate agents to serve urban communities. We have our in-house training program called MPOWR, which is a lifestyle and habits program for peak performance because at Pacific Playa, we believe for a person to be highly successful in any industry, their lives have to operate at an optimal level. We have recently expanded MPOWR to reach the general public through my Youtube channel, MPOWR. We have our daily Sales Logix program, where our agents are able to build their communication skills by practicing real-life scenarios they may face as a real estate agent among their peers. Another program that we offer to agents inside and out of our brokerage is Propel: a 12 part series that teaches agents everything from real estate basics to advanced lead generation and business building. Our state-of-the-art training programs encourage the collaborative, future facing focus of our brokerage. Built from the ground up, this independent brokerage has a well-defined and unique value proposition for agents and clients alike.

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
My mom has remained a constant inspiration in my life as I have seen her persevere and overcome situations that would’ve broken others. She faced so much adversity as a dark-skinned immigrant woman with very little resources to rely on but she never made excuses for what needed to get done. Her determined spirit is what inspired me to work hard no matter what and because of this, she’ll always be my ultimate role model. I’ve never been the type to idolize people, but I can always respect one’s drive, hard work, determination, and intellect.

Another mentor that comes to mind is a man I worked for as a teenager. By 14, I was working three jobs, one of which was working as a mailer for a sole entrepreneur. We couldn’t have been any more different, I was very young, while he was older. He drove a white Porsche while I took the bus. He was well-established in his career and here I was just getting started. He had said a few things that still ring true in my head but one in particular stands out. One day after work he gave me a ride home and took note of the arduous effort it took to commute to the job. He said, “I can’t believe you have to go through all this to get to work, kid; mark my word, you’re going to go to high places”. Of course at that time, I had no idea how far life would take me from my humble beginnings but at that moment, he saw within me a kid that was willing to work hard and do whatever it took to get the job done and because of my determination, he knew my success would be imminent.

I have learned from many, many people on my journey, even my kids. I’m always open to learning as much as I can because life is an endless continuous cycle of self-improvement. As I get older, I am grateful to be able to mentor and guide others to their own paths of success like the mentors I had in my youth.

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