Kham Xaysavanh on Taking Risks and Staying True To Your Inner Core

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I’m very excited to have one of my oldest friends, Kham Xaysavanh on the podcast this week. She was instrumental in inspiring me on my own property investment journey. 
Kham’s had a successful career as a business owner of two prominent businesses and used property investment as a tool to silently build her wealth in the background. 
On this week’s episode, she speaks to us about her journey and shares some of her pearls of wisdom. 
What I love about this interview is Kham’s :
  • story behind her property investment journey and how she started from nothing; 
  • her philosophy of not letting money define you;
  • how you should always celebrate all your losses; and 
  • how you should always be true to your inner core. 

Show Notes:

00:00:00 – Intro

00:02:01 – What money meant growing up with a migrant family

00:06:40 – Overcoming bad money habits

00:11:39 – Taking risks with early investments

00:15:49 – Diversifying where you invest your business profits

00:18:58 – Why celebrating financial losses is important

00:22:01 – Opportunities for new investors right now

00:26:07 – Thank you

Q: What did money mean to you growing up?

  • We arrived in Canberra in June of 1980 as refugees with literally no money and no possessions. 
  • We always had to struggle financially to make ends meet because my dad couldn’t continue his line of work as a nurse, and my mum went back to study. 
  • Unfortunately, my parents got divorced, leaving my mum as a single mother with four young children.
  • So, I learnt very quickly, at the age of 14, that I had to go and work. 
  • Hard work was the underpinning reason as to where I am today. And it’s always stayed with me purely for that reason. 
  • The other thing that has also always stuck with me is integrity and staying true to who you are. 
  • So, to cut a long story short, we grew up with no money, but I refused to have that life for my children. 
  • As a female in IT, it’s been quite challenging to live up to that mark. I always had to be right at the forefront of being smarter than everyone else, and I had to work harder than everyone else.
  • And that does not impede by any means – I always saw that as an opportunity to use it to strive and prove people wrong. 
  • I ventured into going to university – being the eldest of five; I had to lead by example. 
  • But I’ve always lived with the mindset of not doing things by 100% but rather by 500%. So instead of getting one degree, I needed to get two degrees. And instead of just getting an honours degree and achieving that, I had to get first-class honours. 
  • It doesn’t mean I’m an intellect or an academic; I just worked incredibly hard to get to that level. 
  • I then went straight into the workforce and purchased my first house when I was 21. 
  • Back in those days, I was told that I couldn’t buy a house, but because I’ve always had that mentality that there’s nothing I can’t achieve if I put my mind to it; I took the risk, worked hard and made sacrifices to get ahead.
  • So with that in mind, I continued to purchase and invest in property whilst simply living within my means.
  • So, money to me means living within the means, taking risks where nobody else would, and being able to back yourself to say “if I fall, that’s fine I’ll get back up.”
  • It’s perseverance and persistence. 

Q:One of the things that I have often felt with people who have had to drive their own success, is that there’s often been bad habits or beliefs around money you’ve had to overcome or change. Can you relate to that? What was it that you had to overcome

  • I think it’s two things. Firstly, I didn’t want to be poor again. 
  • When I say “poor,” I am talking about trying to make ends meet and just put food on the table. 
  • I am talking about being 14 and taking two busses to get to work after school. And then waiting at 11 pm to have one of my parents fetch me after work so that I could help my mum pay rent. 
  • Grit comes with that determination to persevere even when you want to give up, and I think the most important thing for me was never wanting to fail. 
  • I know people fail in life, and that’s fine. But for me, failure was not an option because I’ve got nothing to lose if I started with nothing.
  • In the same breath, money has never defined the type of person I am, and I’ve never put money first. 
  • I still don’t put money first. I always put what I call my core inner self, first. That’s the second thing.
  • Core inner self, for me, is when stress shakes your life, and you feel like everything is falling apart, I go back to my core. My core is the things that ground me, and they’re the cause of kindness, love, integrity, honesty, compassion, understanding, empathy for those around me and respect.
  • So, every time something happens in my life, I actually go back to my core, and that’s what grounds me. And that’s what I focus on. 
  • When something happens that’s out of your control; it’s easy to become the victim instead of the victor. 
  • Playing the victim doesn’t sit within a positive mindset.  
  • You can choose to live your life feeling sorry for yourself.  Or, you can choose to live a life where you say “okay, that’s what’s happened to me, and this is how I am going to deal with it.”
  • That’s when I go back to my core, which makes me happy. 
  • You can have all the money in the world, but still, be the loneliest person. 
  • I am rich in my life because I have people who genuinely care for me, I’ve got my children who are happy and healthy, and I have lots of love and respect- that’s what money can’t buy. 

Q: What were some of the earlier decisions you made about your property investing journey that had the most significant impact?

  • I think it’s taking that risk and saving enough money to be able to invest in property. 
  • And then, understanding the commercial and business dynamics to allow that to work in your favour. 
  • So, I learnt very early that things like financial management, accounting and treating your tenant with respect are essential parts of the process. 
  • Another thing I learnt early on was: do your research. Drive through the streets; understand what the stats are, and look at the trends. 
  • The other key thing is to diversify your investments. 
  • Consider other investments like shares, for example. 
  • Take risks and back yourself. 

Q: Many business owners tend to grapple with the idea of taking money out of their business and investing it in other assets when they would rather just put it back in the business and keep it growing. What’s your advice on balancing the rate of return in your business with your investments?

  • At the end of the day, it’s a juggling act because it depends on how mature that business is.
  • You only invest in the early stages and then build that business up. 
  • When your business is sustainable and has reached the breakeven point, I often think that’s when a great opportunity exists to take that money out and reinvest. 
  • My advice to my business partners was always “feed the funnel” and don’t put all your eggs in one basket. 
  • When I was in my 20s when I first started investing, it was always property, property and property. 
  • Now, at 45 and with a little bit more wisdom, I think diversification is key. 
  • For example, I invest in Aboriginal Art. While that may not seem to be a standard investment for some, I feel that further down the track, if I invest in the right artists, the art value will be 3 or 4 times more valuable than what it was. 
  • My other advice is that if you can’t buy something in cash, you can’t afford it – granted big-ticket items are an exception. 
  • Just make do with what you have – it’s amazing how little you can live with.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about where you’ve experienced financial loss and what did you do to digest and get past it?

  • In the game of life, you’ve got to be able to win and lose in my view. 
  • The difference is a lot of people celebrate their wins and not their losses. 
  • You need to celebrate the losses. 
  • I’ll give you an example. Through my divorce, I lost a substantial amount of money on one of my investments. 
  • I can sit back and revel in “the failure” or I can switch my mindset and say “you know what, I can offset that loss on a future gain.”
  • The lessons that you learn from the losses in life is what makes you a better person. 

Q: What would you say to people who want to get a foothold in building wealth? Where do you think the greatest opportunities lay over the next 5- 10 years

  • For me, the most significant achievement that one can obtain in their life is to purchase a family home or a home for themselves and pay that off as quickly as possible. 
  • From there, that then becomes your nest egg. I paid off a mortgage and then purchased something bigger and paid off that mortgage. 
  • So, I think it’s really important to have a foundation of wealth and have money in the bank.
  • These days, many people don’t want to wait for it – they want it now and end up buying on credit and living a life they can’t afford. 
  • It’s vital that people live within their means and just save. 
  • To be a financially independent individual in today’s society, you should never have to rely on anybody to put food on your table or put a roof over your head. 
  • I think being self-sufficient is what it means to have financial freedom.
  • And live by your truth as an individual!
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