Pamela Bardhi | The F.A.C.T.S. Formula

Pamela Bardhi is a real estate agent and developer through her Bardhi Investment Group (the acronym is no accident), as well as the owner of the famed gelato shop, Ria Café, right here in Boston.

For Pamela, investing is about more than making money but also changing communities for the better, one project at a time.

She highlights where she sees opportunity right now in Boston, as well as the mistakes she sees uninformed investors make – and what to do instead.

We also talk about…

  • The myth of overnight success
  • The #1 thing to look at before buying real estate
  • The strategy to your get best ROI on real estate in today’s market
  • The problem with home improvement reality shows
  • And more

Listen now…

Episode Transcript:

David Elmasian: Welcome to the Hub of Success. I’m your host, Dave Elmasian. Today, I’m excited to talk to Pam Bardhi, president of Bardhi Investment Group and Ria Boston. She’s a residential real estate developer, real estate agent, and a small business owner. Pam has sold over $25 million in sold real estate.

She also teaches entrepreneurship for the YMCA Young Achievers Program at Northeastern University, and did we mention she owns Ria Café, an ice cream café in Boston? Welcome to the podcast, Pam.

Pamela Bardhi: Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it, Dave. I’m so excited.

David Elmasian: Good. Yeah. No, before we get into it, we’re going to do a little quick fire round. Be some tech questions. I didn’t tell you there was going to be a test involved. No, I’m kidding. There are going to be some questions, but they’re very simple, super simple questions, and let’s just go through it, just get it out of the way, so to speak, inject a little bit of technology into the discussion, being a little bit of the geek that I am.

So are you a Mac or a PC person?

Pamela Bardhi: I’m Mac all day long.

David Elmasian: All right. Well, this won’t be an easy question, then. iPhone or Android?

Pamela Bardhi: iPhone.

David Elmasian: Of course. All right. How about this? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn? Any, all, none of the above? What do you reach for first?

Pamela Bardhi: I would say Instagram and LinkedIn …

David Elmasian: Okay.

Pamela Bardhi: … for sure.

David Elmasian: All right. How about Netflix or Hulu?

Pamela Bardhi: Netflix.

David Elmasian: Never Hulu. Poor Hulu. Roku, Apple TV, or Chromecast?

Pamela Bardhi: Apple TV.

David Elmasian: Again. I know. All right. Gmail or Outlook?

Pamela Bardhi: Gmail, all day.

David Elmasian: Okay. Now, this one’s the most difficult one. Vanilla or chocolate ice cream?

Pamela Bardhi: Vanilla.

David Elmasian: All right. Well, guess it wasn’t so difficult. All right. Well, let’s talk about you, Pam. So how’d you get started in this real estate business, anyway?

Pamela Bardhi: Sure. So, I mean, I’ve been involved in small business since I was ten tears old …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … working for my parents at their restaurant, West Napoli Pizza, in West Roxbury. My parents, they were hustlers …

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: … since day one, when we came to the United States, and my dad started diversifying himself into real estate. After he bought his business, he bought his building, and then, from there, he was fascinated by real estate. So, my uncle, who’s a general contractor, Alfred, up in Revere, he approached my dad, and he said, “Hey, you should invest in developing real estate on the side, us creating … I’ll work on the houses, and you invest in them. That’s how we can operate.” I was sort of trailing them for a little while.

David Elmasian: Keeping an eye on them?

Pamela Bardhi: Yeah, and checking it out, and I’m saying to myself, “This is an awesome business model.”

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: So right before I opened my store, I said, “Okay, I’m going to launch my store, make sure it’s all good, Ria Café, and then, from there, I’m just going to start developing real estate,” because I loved the model.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: It seemed like a lot of fun. It was a lot of hard work, but a lot of fun.

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s really how I got started. So, about five years ago, I developed my own name and my own company …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … which was Bardhi Investment Group, and we’ve just been …

David Elmasian: BIG.

Pamela Bardhi: BIG.

David Elmasian: Nice.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s exactly why I did it. Notorious.

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: So …

David Elmasian: So, what attracted … because I know a little about real estate. Not to make it about me – it’s not about me – but my first career was in … We did a little bit of development, but we also did a lot of acquiring and holding. Also, later on, I actually did some … what we call flipping now. Back in the ’80s, it wasn’t called flipping. That tells you how old I am.

But what was the attraction? Obviously, you did this ’cause you wanted to make money, but it’s not an easy business, is it?

Pamela Bardhi: No. No, it’s absolutely not an easy business, but what I really loved was the fact of how many people it influenced, right? It influences one house, can influence an entire neighborhood …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … which is the reason why I was saying to myself, “This is something that’s tangible, something I can see, something that I can create.”

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: It’s kind of like a canvas, right? You take this house that’s been completely … needs so much work, and you can redo it.

David Elmasian: Right. Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: So it’s … It was sort of an outlet of my creativity …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … in a way, and also, too, like I mentioned, the influence that it has towards everybody involved. I mean, it affects the neighborhood. All the contractors that they’re paying, they’re able to put food on the table for their families.

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: It increases taxes for the city so that more city workers get paid.

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: So there’s just … It’s like a ripple effect, and it affects so many.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: Just the whole business of creating was really what I loved about it …

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: … because I remember starting my first project, and once I finished it, being able to drive by and be like, “I created that,” that is like …

David Elmasian: “That’s my baby.”

Pamela Bardhi: That’s my baby.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: You see the families and stuff going in. It’s awesome.

David Elmasian: Of course. Yeah, yeah. Well, you mentioned the ripple effect. We use the word “viral” and that type of term, but one of the things I’ve seen, which is, like you said, I think that you’re talking about is if you can improve one property, not always, but many times, you see that happening with neighbors and other people. They say, “Well, hey.”

So it has that positive influence on a neighborhood, like you were mentioning, and then, like I said, all the associated industries that rely on that generation of work or what have you, and then people can buy a house. It kind of goes into that whole cycle, right?

Pamela Bardhi: Exactly.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: Exactly.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s why I loved the model, too. It’s almost like a social responsibility that goes …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … along with it …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … that you don’t really see, ’cause most people see the money side.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: But there’s also a big social impact side …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … on the other end.

David Elmasian: Yeah, and if you can get somebody into a home that they take pride in, like you said, it lifts them up, and you feel like you’re doing some good in the world. If you’re making a few bucks along the way, it’s not a bad thing either, right?

Pamela Bardhi: It’s not a bad thing at all. But I will say my favorite thing is going into an open house after I’ve completed a project and really seeing people fall in love with it …

David Elmasian: Great.

Pamela Bardhi: … because, at first, I sort of questioned my vision. I was like, “I’ve never done this before.”

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: “Is this something?” But then, when you see clients react …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … and families reacting, it’s the most exciting thing, to just … when people sort of validate your vision.

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: From there, I was just like, “Okay, I’ve got to create more” …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … after the first project.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s really what I fell in love with most.

David Elmasian: Right. So do you recall your first project? You want to tell us a little bit about it?

Pamela Bardhi: Yes.

David Elmasian: Yeah?

Pamela Bardhi: It was actually in Stoughton …

David Elmasian: Oh, okay.

Pamela Bardhi: … which was interesting. So it was down the street from where I went to college, which was Stonehill College.

David Elmasian: Okay. Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: I remember it was a very in-depth renovation that I had never done, like the full gut to the studs. I mean, I’ve watched it …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … with my dad and my uncle, but …

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: … this was a totally different …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … totally different ballgame, so … Even to this day, I love driving by it …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … and remembering, “That was my first one.”

David Elmasian: Sure. So I’m assuming it was a single family house?

Pamela Bardhi: Single family house. Yep.

David Elmasian: Yep. So describe the condition of it when you first saw your little baby, so to speak.

Pamela Bardhi: So I couldn’t find it from the …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … because there were so many trees …

David Elmasian: Wow.

Pamela Bardhi: … on the exterior.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: You couldn’t see anything, no part of the house, and I remember that the family … The parents had gone into a nursing home, and the children lived in Vermont. So the house was completely abandoned and unloved, and I remember when we approached them about a sale, they had said they wanted to, because the parents were in a nursing home and they were out in Vermont.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: So they really just wanted to get rid of it.

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: What their wish was was to bring it back to life, back to the days of when they had it …

David Elmasian: Oh, that’s cool.

Pamela Bardhi: … and the children were growing up.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: So, in a way, with real estate, you become involved in legacy …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … and in families’ lives, and that’s another major reason why I love being part of that.

David Elmasian: True.

Pamela Bardhi: So their wish was to bring it back to life, and I will never forget when we finished it …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … and sent the pictures to them, they couldn’t believe it was the same house.

David Elmasian: Wow.

Pamela Bardhi: They said, “Thank you for bringing it all back for us.” But it was in completely rough shape.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: I mean, it needed to be gutted to the absolute studs, just because of the condition that it was left in.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: But we were able to save the floors.

David Elmasian: Oh, nice.

Pamela Bardhi: So the original hardwood floors were able to be sanded down …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … and brought back to life, and that was one of the best features, I would say, in that house.

David Elmasian: Sure. So what’s the criteria you look for? Obviously, location, condition, price. What makes it so you’re like, “Meh,” and other times, you’re like, “Hmm”?

Pamela Bardhi: Yeah. So, for me, it’s really about location.

David Elmasian: Okay.

Pamela Bardhi: I look at is it transit-oriented? How easily can people get to public transportation?

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: For me, I really stick to the neighborhoods, now, of West Roxbury, Roslindale, Hyde Park. So I’m mostly focused on the outer suburbs of Boston …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … because that’s where I’m sort of seeing the most growth. I mean, West Roxbury is kind of capped a little bit …

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: … and it continues to go up and appreciate, but Boston is really where I’m sticking to the most. But I look at and I see, “Okay, is it a single family? Is it multi-family?” Multis are better …

David Elmasian: True.

Pamela Bardhi: … because you could either condo convert or you could sell it as a multi-family.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: There’s a lot more options you can play around with.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: In the single family realm, you could pretty much change the entire look of a house easily, but you can never change the location.

David Elmasian: Right. Exactly.

Pamela Bardhi: The location is …

David Elmasian: Unfortunately, right?

Pamela Bardhi: I know. So that’s the whole thing …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … I look for. I mean, it could be an absolute disaster on the inside …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … and it’s just a question of the location. How much can I get it for, what do I need to put into it …

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: … and what can it sell for after the fact? That’s really the formula.

David Elmasian: Again, things change, but are you looking to purchase and hold or purchase and sell?

Pamela Bardhi: So, in this current market right now, we’re seeing prices that are skyrocketing. So, in terms of cap rates and the rate of return that you get …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … on investment properties on the market right now …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … are so slim in Boston that one slip-up in the market …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … that’s it. You’re done.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: So, for me, I have taken the strategy of buying and flipping, because there’s so much equity in the properties right now, and that’s the strategy I’ve mostly used. But I am getting into buy and hold properties for passive income, for sure.

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: There’s one that I purchased in Dedham because it was an awesome deal.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: But if it wasn’t an awesome deal, I wouldn’t have gone for it.

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: So it’s all a numbers game. If you can get it for the right price that it’ll cashflow appropriately …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … 100% go for it.

David Elmasian: Okay.

Pamela Bardhi: But if not and the cap rates and rate of return is low, I would say caution.

David Elmasian: Right. Okay. So you mentioned your dad, your mom, and your uncle.

Pamela Bardhi: Yes.

David Elmasian: They obviously led by example. So what have you learned from them, in the time that you’ve been doing this?

Pamela Bardhi: Yeah. So my family literally came to the United States when I was five years old with nothing. Actually, my grandmother put in their names in the visa lottery, and they didn’t even know …

David Elmasian: Wow.

Pamela Bardhi: … and their names got chosen.

David Elmasian: Wow.

Pamela Bardhi: Then they literally just dropped everything and came to the United States, and with no plan …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … which, being older now and understanding all of this, I’m like …

David Elmasian: Wow.

Pamela Bardhi: … how could they even …

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: How do you take that kind of risk in a completely different country? Your family’s not there, and watching them just … My dad didn’t know English. My mom didn’t know English. But he hustled. He worked three jobs …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … eventually to the point that he got a mentor that gave him a loan and said, “Here’s 150K. Go buy a business.” Then, from there, he flourished.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: But it’s because he worked hard, somebody believed in him …

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: … and he kept going.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: That was the example that I learned from them.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: From them, they built something out of nothing, all through hard work.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: So any industry that I’ve ever started in, startup-wise or anything like that, it’s always been just hustle.

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: Just hustle and do the right thing, and just keep going, because every expert was once a beginner.

David Elmasian: Of course.

Pamela Bardhi: But if you work hard, you can get there.

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s what my parents taught me, was relentless hard work …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … and dedication and relationship-building. That was huge …

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: … huge for me.

David Elmasian: So what’s your goal with it?

Pamela Bardhi: My goal in business?

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: So that’s a great question, because now I’m at the point where my careers are being … We’re already built and established …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … and things are growing and scaling.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: I’m saying to myself, “Business is great, but what’s really my calling, my mission?” To me, that is empowering others to live their best life …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … because, when I wake up on a daily basis, I love what I do, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Yeah, there’s some days that I’m working 18 hours, 20 hours. It is what it is, but I love it, and it doesn’t feel like work.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: How can I help influence people to get there …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … and create a life where they’re happy? Because, to me, being rich is not … It’s not a money thing. Being rich is having the opportunity to have the time …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … to have time to say, “If you wanted to go on a vacation, you can take that vacation.”

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: Nobody’s holding you …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … holding you down. Having time to spend with your family, that’s being rich, ’cause if you’re working all the time and making six figures but you have no time for your family or to enjoy it …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … what’s the point?

David Elmasian: I think that’s a great perspective, too, because, like you said, we all … Not all, many of us, especially older people like myself, you always look at it like is it strictly the financial gains? Sure, everybody wants to make money. Everybody wants to make a buck. Everybody wants to be considered successful, financially, but, like you said, if you don’t really get the benefits out of that, really, what’s the point?

Pamela Bardhi: Right.

David Elmasian: Because we’re all going to die someday, right?

Pamela Bardhi: Right.

David Elmasian: You can’t take it with you …

Pamela Bardhi: Right.

David Elmasian: … and if you can’t enjoy it and you can’t make an improvement to the people that are around you and others …

Pamela Bardhi: Right.

David Elmasian: … what’s the point of it all? Right?

Pamela Bardhi: Exactly.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: Exactly. So I’m on a serious mission to empower others to really let out their true passions and follow what they love. They don’t all have to be entrepreneurs.

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: But at least be doing something that you love, and have some time for yourself to actually go out there and enjoy life, because I see some people with their eyes closed, and all they do is work, work, work, work, work.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s all they know, and it’s just the miserable …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: They don’t want to be where they are.

David Elmasian: Every once in a while, you get to stop and eat the ice cream, right?

Pamela Bardhi: Exactly. Exactly. That’s my philosophy. Ice cream fixes all things.

David Elmasian: So you and I know somebody … We know several people, I think, mutually, or we both know them, but you mentioned that you’re working on a project with somebody. Tell us a little bit about that.

Pamela Bardhi: Yes. So I’m working on a project, a documentary project, right now …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … with Jonas Cain …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … who is one of the most fabulous people …

David Elmasian: Can you get him to be a little more uplifting? He’s really a downer, really.

Pamela Bardhi: He’s the purveyor of fascination …

David Elmasian: Yes.

Pamela Bardhi: … and he’s the CEO of Positivity Magic.

David Elmasian: There you go.

Pamela Bardhi: He is absolutely fantastic. So when we met at Cordial Connections …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … which is our awesome networking group …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … thanks to Valerie McSorely …

David Elmasian: Yep. Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … him and I were just having a dinner together.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: We were just talking about positivity in the world and how we both have a desire to increase the positivity worldwide …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … and awareness and just create …

David Elmasian: Small goal.

Pamela Bardhi: Yeah. Small …

David Elmasian: Just a small goal.

Pamela Bardhi: Just small. I was talking to him, and I said, “Listen. I’ve always wanted to do some sort of documentary to really highlight what it’s like to be an entrepreneur” …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … “because everyone wants to become one these days. Everyone wants that financial freedom. Everybody wants that happiness, all of that. But nobody sees what goes into it.”

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: Being at rock bottom, seeing people who’ve gone rock bottom and really make it to the top, what’s that whole piece in the middle, that whole process that’s being avoided?

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: Because of society’s instant gratification now, everyone thinks they can be successful overnight, which is never the case.

David Elmasian: Well, just like … I think that’s related to what you and I were just talking about. My wife and I … I don’t watch them as often as I used to, but my wife loves those home improvement-type shows, right?

Pamela Bardhi: Yep.

David Elmasian: There’s a zillion of them out there, and it always cracked me up, because she’s like, “Oh, I want to do that,” when they show they buy a house and they fix it up and they sell it, and it’s all done within 25 minutes. She’s like, “Oh, we can do that,” and having a little bit of experience in that area, I say to myself, “What you didn’t see is the 40-person crew and all the … All you saw was the guy hitting the hammer, the nail, the last one, like, ‘Oh, we’re all done.'” Right?

But I think that’s like you said. That’s kind of the world we live in, where people have these expectations that, “Oh, to buy and sell and fix up a house, it only takes 25 minutes, right? We all make a billion dollars.”

Pamela Bardhi: Honestly, that’s the mentality these days …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … that everything can be built overnight, and I can’t tell you how many people I consult with about starting businesses and different things and offering advice, and I say, “Listen. You’ve got to work to the ground.”

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: “You’ve got to keep hustling.”

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: But the fact of the matter is, with Jonas and I, when we were discussing this, we were saying, “Listen. We want to showcase real-life stories of major influencers out there and have them tell the raw story and the truths of … the process of how they got to who they are, because they were never that person in the past.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: They worked hard to get there, and there was all these different pieces, throughout the process, that nobody sees.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: Everyone just kind of sees the endgame …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … and that’s really it. Then you have people looking at this person and saying, “How can I ever get there? This person’s all the way up here. How am I supposed to” …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … “make it at that level?” It’s a step-by-step thing. So Jonas and I, we said to ourselves, “All right. What we’re going to do, we’re going to try to target some major influencers to interview and put together a documentary so that we can create and put it out there to the world to see” …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … “and to be able to relate and have them tell the truth and the real truth and expose it all” …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … “so that watchers … viewers, they could really take a look and see what it really takes” …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … “to get” …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … “and become successful.”

David Elmasian: Yeah. Right.

Pamela Bardhi: Really, because what’s happening … and I was talking about this a little bit earlier, with you. What hurts me is seeing the world in such a sad place, like depression rates going up …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … suicide rates going up and all these things, and I’m saying to myself, “These people feel alone.”

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: They do.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: If they’re able to watch a story that resonates with them, like, “Oh, I’ve been through that, too.”

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: “I’ve been through drug addiction,” or “I’ve been through that,” or “I’ve been through that, and look how this person got up” …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: “They fell down, but they got up.”

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: “Then they made it.”

David Elmasian: Right. Right.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s what it’s really all about. So the documentary’s going to be called Underdog, and our aim is to interview major influencers, put together this documentary, and put it out there for the world, to increase positivity and make sure they know that they’re not alone in the struggle.

David Elmasian: Right. Yeah. It’s like that old joke, the band or the singer that’s a 30-year overnight sensation, right?

Pamela Bardhi: Yeah.

David Elmasian: But that’s true, and we all want to believe that. It’s like when we buy a lottery ticket – “Oh, I’m going to buy a winning one, right?” If we don’t believe that, why would we buy the lottery ticket? But if we really thought and said, “Hey, my odds are one in 20 billion that I’m going to win the lottery,” nobody would buy them, ’cause you’re like, “This is crazy. There’s no way I’m going to do it.” Right?

Pamela Bardhi: Right.

David Elmasian: But, like you said, if you illustrate that, yes, it’s possible, but here’s what’s involved, here’s the struggle that other people had, here’s, like you said, the failures they had – and the successes … Like you said, Oprah wasn’t Oprah up until only a few years ago, relatively, compared to her life, right?

Pamela Bardhi: Right. Right. She started from the bottom.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: She was in rural Mississippi, and she talked about that.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: When I was going through struggles … I was an entrepreneur. When I was facing adversity, I was always trying to look for something inspiring, to say, “Okay, well, I’m in this dark place” …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … but knowing that others were in that dark place, too …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … helped me get up and get out of it and keep moving forward.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s exactly what we want to design this documentary to be …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … is anyone who’s in a dark place or anyone who needs just that extra motivation.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: They listen to that, and they say, “Hey, if they made it through and they became who they are” …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … “we’re going to make it through, too.”

David Elmasian: That’s great.

Pamela Bardhi: Yeah.

David Elmasian: That’s really great. I think, along with that, like I mentioned, you work with younger people, the young entrepreneurs.

Pamela Bardhi: Yes.

David Elmasian: So tell me a little bit about that. What’s kind of the work that you’ve done with that?

Pamela Bardhi: Yes. So I teach entrepreneurship with the YMCA Young Achievers Program held at Northeastern University.

David Elmasian: Okay.

Pamela Bardhi: So they meet biweekly.

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: I teach the career cluster portion, which is entrepreneurship. So I teach the students all about owning a business, starting a business.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: What is your personal brand? Because some of them may not be interested in owning their own business.

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: Most of them are, but I teach them, “What is your brand? When you apply to college” … Right? Because they’re mostly high school students.

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: “What sets you apart from everyone else?”

David Elmasian: Right. Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s what you need to know these days …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … is, whether you’re going to be an entrepreneur …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … whether you’re going to be at a job, applying for a job, applying for schools, all these, you need to differentiate yourself, especially in a marketplace where it’s so saturated. There’s all these people. Why you?

David Elmasian: Yep. Right.

Pamela Bardhi: So I teach them different strategies, real-life strategies, life skills strategies, business strategies …

David Elmasian: Wow.

Pamela Bardhi: … so that they know exactly what it takes to …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … run and operate a business, like an elevator pitch.

David Elmasian: So why do you do that? Obviously, you’ve got plenty of things to do with your time as it is.

Pamela Bardhi: Yeah.

David Elmasian: So there’s got to be a reason why you do it.

Pamela Bardhi: Yes. So, as I was mentioning earlier, part of my mission … Businesses are great …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … but my calling, really, I believe, is, through my businesses, to help empower others to rise …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … on their own and do what they love. If I could help them do that …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … and be one of the people that helps influence them to get to that next level …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … I want to do it, because I feel that I’ve been blessed …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … by God, thankfully …

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: … and I have this urge to always be giving back, because it was all those people that mentored me through the process and taught me all these things that have gotten me to where I am. It’s my responsibility to give that right back to the world.

David Elmasian: That’s great. That’s a great way to be, Pam.

Pamela Bardhi: Thank you.

David Elmasian: That’s fantastic. I can interject one thing. It’s not about me, but, at one stage in my career, I did technical training, and people always asked me, “Oh, that must’ve been a hassle.” Yeah, there’s definitely some hassles involved with it and that kind of thing, but I think if I could’ve afforded to stay doing something like that, I would’ve, because, to me, it was always those a-ha moments, when … like you said, when you talk about something and you see a younger person, they … You can tell they get the concept and, as they say, the light bulb goes on, and you feel like, “Hey, they learned a little something today.” That makes it all worthwhile.

Unfortunately, at the stage of my life when I was doing that, I had one child, had a mortgage, and …

Pamela Bardhi: Right.

David Elmasian: … training doesn’t always pay the best and that kind of stuff.

Pamela Bardhi: Right.

David Elmasian: So maybe someday, maybe when I retire, so to speak, I’ll do that type of a thing.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely.

David Elmasian: Yeah. But it’s great to see other people wanting to do that, because, like I said, I know you have plenty of things to do with your time and a lot of things going on. So that give back mentality is really inspiring and inspirational to others.

Pamela Bardhi: Thank you, and, I mean, it’s about passing the torch, right?

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s our next generation.

David Elmasian: Yep. Oh, listen to you, the old person over there.

Pamela Bardhi: I feel so old. It almost feels like passing the torch, because … Then you see them out there doing great things …

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: … and especially when they get back to you, they’re like, “Oh, Pam, you were so right” …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … “about this.”

David Elmasian: That excitement, yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: Seeing them understand what I’m talking about …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … is the coolest thing in the world …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … and seeing them apply it to their lives …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … there’s no other feeling …

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: … than doing that, so …

David Elmasian: So let’s go back to the real estate thing a little bit. I know, just to keep yourself out of trouble – I say that joking – you get involved in real estate transactions for other people, buying and selling as an agent. What’s that like? A lot of people … and I kind of have a sense, ’cause I’ve worked with a lot of agents, again, in a previous life, and I know it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Pamela Bardhi: Right.

David Elmasian: But a lot of people have this view that you just kind of do nothing, and, all of a sudden, you get this big commission, and you just … Really wasn’t much involved in it. Help educate people that are listening some of the challenges of residential real estate, from that perspective, as an agent.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely. So it was funny. I got into becoming a real estate agent after developing …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … my own properties.

David Elmasian: True.

Pamela Bardhi: So I said, “I should probably get my real estate license to navigate myself better” …

David Elmasian: True.

Pamela Bardhi: … “through the market and know my numbers.”

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: Then it turned into, “Hey, Pam, can you help me buy? Hey, Pam, can you help me sell?”, which …

David Elmasian: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … just on a referral basis, and I said, “Of course. Of course I’ll help you.”

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: What it turned into was something much bigger then I could’ve ever anticipated. Now I got my real estate broker’s license …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … which is absolutely incredible, but, essentially, being a real estate agent and walking through someone … throughout their transaction, whether it’s a home purchase … because I do both. I do residential and commercial as well.

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: So it’s about creating value to that person. Why have an agent? It’s because of the expertise.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: If someone’s buying with me or selling with me, I could walk straight through a property with you because of my knowledge on the construction side.

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: As for buyers, I can walk in and tell you exactly what to expect, without even having the home inspector …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … present. So I could tell you, “The bones are good. This is good.”

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: “This is what you need to work on, blah blah blah.”

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: Run right through it, and the same thing on the seller side. If someone comes to me and says, “I want to sell this house for the most amount of money that I can,” I say to them, “Let me walk through, see what we can improve to get it market ready.”

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: Then, also about walking through the process with either the buyer or the seller …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … knowing your stuff, because real estate transactions are incredibly complicated.

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: Having somebody by your side that has dealt with it before and knows how to work it is incredibly valuable.

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: I’ve had so many people that I’ve worked with before be like, “Pam, without you, I don’t know how I would’ve walked through this transaction” …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … because a real estate agent, if you’re talking to somebody who knows their stuff, they’re going to get you the most amount of money humanly possible …

David Elmasian: True.

Pamela Bardhi: … for your property …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … if you’re going to sell it. Then, if you’re a buyer, you want somebody who’s going to be able to negotiate for you …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … be on the front lines, and know what they’re talking about.

David Elmasian: Well, yeah, and, obviously, like you said, you have the advantage of saying, “Well, hey, we’re going to have to replace this roof,” or “We’re going to have to do this,” or “We’re going to have to do that.” For people that are inexperienced, who have never been through that, they don’t … A, they can’t recognize it, or, B, they’re relying on other people, which aren’t always the most reliable people to be relying on. We won’t name names.

Pamela Bardhi: Right. So it’s about telling them, “How do you navigate through this?” and say, “Well, if you replace this roof, if you do this, if you declutter and you do that, you’re going to get X amount” …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … “for this property,” and there’s different strategies involved with it, too. So it’s all about creating value. It’s almost … I always compare it to this. You always want to hire a lawyer to represent you in court, right?

David Elmasian: Sure. Right.

Pamela Bardhi: So you need to hire …

David Elmasian: Not that either of us have had to go to court, but theoretically, right.

Pamela Bardhi: Right. So you want a real estate agent that’s going to represent you throughout that process …

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: … in full confidence and know exactly what they’re talking about …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … to get you the most amount of money possible, because that agent’s going to fight for you, just like an attorney would fight for you …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … on either side of the transaction of who they represent. So that’s the way that I’ve always sort of laid it out, and I always say to any of my clients, “If I can’t provide value for you” …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … “you can have the commission back.”

David Elmasian: Sure. Right.

Pamela Bardhi: Literally, and none of them have ever …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … turned it back. They’re like, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

David Elmasian: There’s a few people that I’ll mention that you don’t want to do that, make that offer to, but that’s another topic for another day, so … We talked about the project a little bit, the creative side, the real estate side. What do you see … What’s next for you? What’s on the horizon? Where do you see things down the road? I’ll use the old cliché, where do you see yourself five years or whatever?

But, really, no, seriously, where do you think? Again, you never know how things turn out, but …

Pamela Bardhi: Yeah.

David Elmasian: … what are your thoughts on that, in that area?

Pamela Bardhi: I think there’ll be a major conglomerate …

David Elmasian: Okay.

Pamela Bardhi: … of companies together …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … because I’m working on my general contractor’s license right now …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … which is the unrestricted construction supervisor’s license.

David Elmasian: Bardhi Industries Group. There you go. See, you can expand it. It’s still BIG.

Pamela Bardhi: There you go. So I’m working on the construction company.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: So once I get that license, we can start to set that up so that I have my own construction piece.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: Then the development piece, so that everything will intertwine in one. So, basically, the real estate side will have all aspects of the transaction, all in one house …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … which is exciting.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: So that should be coming in the next year, I would say, or the next six months.

David Elmasian: Okay.

Pamela Bardhi: It depends when I pass this exam …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … ’cause I’ve already failed it twice, see, but it’s okay. I’m going to go back for the third time, and I’m going to get it.

David Elmasian: Hey.

Pamela Bardhi: But … Then there’s other startups. I don’t think I’m ever going to stop, in terms of the empowerment stuff. I mean, I’m working on a blazer company right now, which is … The fashion world is just totally different than anything that I’m doing.

David Elmasian: Okay.

Pamela Bardhi: But it focuses on empowerment.

David Elmasian: Okay.

Pamela Bardhi: So that, hopefully in the next year or so, we’ll be able to have more clarification …

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: … and a prototype on that. Then the documentary project with Jonas, too …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … is another thing that I’m very excited about on the horizon. So every day’s a new opportunity. So you never know what really comes up, and I stay open-minded.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: So who knows what’s going to pop up next? But I do know that, always, my foundation of everything will be real estate. Real estate development will always be the core of what I do.

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: But then everything else is sort of built up on top of that.

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: So that’s kind of the exciting things for now, but, then again, things might change …

David Elmasian: Of course.

Pamela Bardhi: … and there could be more to that list.

David Elmasian: That’s why I get up every morning. You never know, right?

Pamela Bardhi: That’s right. You never know.

David Elmasian: So let’s go back to your parents a little bit.

Pamela Bardhi: Sure.

David Elmasian: So you mentioned that they own a restaurant. Are they still operating the restaurant? Have they retired? Are they still doing that, or something different?

Pamela Bardhi: They’re still operating it, but I don’t know for how much longer.

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: But, for now, they’re still operating it in West Roxbury.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: So that’s called West Napoli.

David Elmasian: Okay.

Pamela Bardhi: West Napoli Pizza. They’ve been there for nearly 20 years now …

David Elmasian: Wow.

Pamela Bardhi: … so since two years after we came to the United States.

David Elmasian: You know better than anybody, the restaurant business is not an easy business.

Pamela Bardhi: No, and I grew up in it. But the one thing that I find fascinating is, at the time, when I started working for them, when I was ten years old …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … I hated it. I was like … It was just … It was all this pressure. It was a mess.

David Elmasian: Of course.

Pamela Bardhi: It was the, “Oh my God, people. I didn’t get the right order.”

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: But now, I’m so thankful for it …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … because it has transformed me into an entrepreneur, to know how to improvise and be on your feet and know what to do and …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … building relationships and all that stuff. So it’s actually been a blessing in disguise.

David Elmasian: Yeah, definitely. There’s some parallels there, ’cause I grew up in a family business. It wasn’t as tough as the restaurant business, but it was the real estate business, and so I was involved in … Let’s say the maintenance aspect of it, meaning a.k.a. cheap labor. So if painting needed to be done, it was me that was doing it. If rentals came up, I was collecting rents when I was eight, nine years old.

Same thing. I didn’t really appreciate it at the time. That’s an understatement. But, now that I look back on it, you’re absolutely right. It was training for my professional life, so to speak.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely.

David Elmasian: Those challenges that you go through make you stronger, make you realize, “Hey, it can be done.” I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t realize why I went through it. It served a purpose, and now it opened up doors that I would never have had the opportunity that have opened up.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely.

David Elmasian: So all right. You and I, we could talk forever. I know that we could. But, unfortunately, in the world we live in, everybody has a short attention span. So, before we wrap things up, is there anything else you want to talk about or something that we missed or anything along those lines? If not, we can kind of wrap things up.

Pamela Bardhi: Yeah. I mean, I think you had … You asked me, “What do you believe makes some successful, while others struggle?”

David Elmasian: I can’t believe I didn’t ask you that question. It’s such a great question. I should’ve asked you.

Pamela Bardhi: So, I mean, I have my own formula. It’s an acronym.

David Elmasian: Wow.

Pamela Bardhi: It’s called FACTS.

David Elmasian: Okay.

Pamela Bardhi: I know. I might be a writer next. You never know. So it’s called FACTS.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: So it’s F-A-C-T-S.

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: F is for fearlessness.

David Elmasian: Okay.

Pamela Bardhi: A is for adaptability, C is for compassion, T is for trust your gut, and S is for self-confidence …

David Elmasian: Wow.

Pamela Bardhi: … ’cause I get asked this question a lot …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … and I say, “What are the most important attributes that I’ve had or built throughout the years that have made me successful?”

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: Truthfully, that is really what speaks to me the most …

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: … being relentless and fearless in anything that you’re doing …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … knowing you might just fall flat on your face, but you just keep going …

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: … being able to adapt …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … in any situation.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: That’s been critical. As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to know how to be on your feet all the time …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … especially in construction.

David Elmasian: Oh, yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: At my development sites, things can go wrong …

David Elmasian: Very quickly.

Pamela Bardhi: … on a daily basis. So you’ve got to not freak out and calm down …

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: … and just find out plan B, C, D.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: Then, in terms of the compassion …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … building relationships has been what my entire career has been about.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: It’s always been relationship before the money, and that’s why I got here …

David Elmasian: Yep. Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … is because of that.

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: Trusting your gut is something that I didn’t do for a long time.

David Elmasian: Yeah.

Pamela Bardhi: Learned to listen to it …

David Elmasian: Sure.

Pamela Bardhi: … kept going, and self-confidence.

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: That, as an entrepreneur, as anybody out there in the world, you’ve got to have self-confidence.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: If you don’t believe in your brand …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … or you …

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: … who’s going to believe in you?

David Elmasian: Yeah. That’s an ongoing test, and I think …

Pamela Bardhi: Yes.

David Elmasian: Like you said, I think maybe they … It’s been a long time since I’ve been in school. It’s amazing to me that they don’t really talk about that in entrepreneurship programs …

Pamela Bardhi: Yeah.

David Elmasian: … because it’s a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute test constantly. I’ve been in business, gosh, 20-plus years, and it still happens to me every day. Not every day, but a lot of days, I’ll wake up or something will come up, and I’m like, “Why do I own my own business? Why?”

Pamela Bardhi: Right. You’re like, “What is it?”

David Elmasian: “Let me list the reasons,” and I’m thinking, and I’m thinking, and I’m thinking. But then I get past it, and I move on.

Pamela Bardhi: Right. Right.

David Elmasian: But, no, that’s very valuable advice, Pam. I think a lot of people could learn from that. Now I see now why you’re teaching young people.

Pamela Bardhi: Thank you.

David Elmasian: They can learn from that as well, too.

Pamela Bardhi: Thank you so much.

David Elmasian: I know. Well, we do have to wrap things up, and what a story. I know we could … Again, we could talk for hours and hours and hours, but, before we finish up, is there … How do people reach out to you, either for the real estate or any other method? What’s the best way to get in touch with you?

Pamela Bardhi: Sure. Best way to get in touch with me right now is LinkedIn.

David Elmasian: Okay.

Pamela Bardhi: So if you just search me up, Pamela Bardhi, on LinkedIn …

David Elmasian: Yep.

Pamela Bardhi: … you’ll find me first thing.

David Elmasian: Right.

Pamela Bardhi: You can contact me through there. Currently, my website is being built up …

David Elmasian: Okay.

Pamela Bardhi: … because of all the rebranding that’s going to be happening and everything.

David Elmasian: Because you keep adding other businesses and new projects.

Pamela Bardhi: Yep. So LinkedIn is definitely the best way, ’cause I have … I mean, you could message me directly. I’ll give you my cell, my email.

David Elmasian: Okay. Great.

Pamela Bardhi: More than happy to connect.

David Elmasian: All right. Well, thanks for joining us here on the Hub of Success and sharing your story.

Pamela Bardhi: Thank you so much for having me.