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Investing During The Pandemic: James Khuri On What We Should Do With Our Money Considering All of the Volatility and Uncertainty Today

An Interview With Jason Hartman

Be smart with your money! As I stated previously about my experience going into debt, debt can set you back immensely so make sure you are saving and spending wisely.

Asa part of my series about “Investing During The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing James Khuri.

James Khuri is an American businessman and entrepreneur who has been developing successful businesses for more than 20 years. He is the CEO of nine firms that center on a variety of industries, including retail shops, real estate, e-commerce platforms, and manufacturing goods and distribution. Khuri’s experience in business spans a wide range of disciplines, making him one of the most well-rounded businessmen in the country.

Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance industry?

Iwas born in December of 1977 in Rochester, New York. Early on, I exhibited natural inclinations toward business and commerce. I developed a love for trading cards at a very young age and little did I know that my passion for them would propel a business that would become an instrumental part of my success as a businessman.

After high school, I attended the University of Rochester where I earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. At 21 years old, I enrolled in the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business where I earned my MBA. While receiving my MBA I launched my real estate career as I started taking on smaller residential projects that introduced me to the industry and taught me the ins and outs. At the age of 32, I moved to Los Angeles, where I currently reside, to launch my commercial real estate career.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

Starting a business is never easy and having a business be extremely successful is even more difficult. I was so focused on pursuing my vision and passion that I lost track of my finances and could only see the end result of my dream. About a decade ago, I made the mistake of taking on too much debt in order to grow my businesses. I was fortunate enough to eventually pull myself out of that hole, but it was a difficult journey. These days, I’m dedicated to living within my means and helping others do the same. Debt is dangerous- it can cripple your finances and your life. The question of if I would have been able to achieve my dreams without this major setback is something I still wonder about today; was there any other way to do it? I hope this can be an example for all young entrepreneurs looking to launch a business, finding an investor is extremely important. Now that I have the opportunity to invest in companies I look for those bright eyed driven business men and women that have a vision I also believe in.

Today, I’m proud to say that my businesses are thriving. I owe a lot of that success to the lessons I learned during my time in debt: resilience, resourcefulness, and most importantly, grit.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Being the CEO of nine firms my time is quite limited, but I still am excited for new opportunities and ways to enter new markets. The firm’s focus is on a variety of industries from retail shops to real estate to e-commerce platforms to manufacturing goods and distribution. My newest project is focused on investing in medical spaces. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us many things, one being that healthcare needs more attention and reform. I am excited to invest in medical spaces such as offices, treatment centers, hospitals etc. This will help people’s accessibility to healthcare and provide a safe, clean and efficient structure for medical businesses.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My son, now 18, has been my biggest motivation in life. Not only do I want to set a great example for him but I also want to provide him with opportunities and resources to reach success in whichever career he decides to pursue. For most of my life I was constantly consumed with work, always on calls, meetings, business trips. From morning to night I was working, but once my son came into the picture I had to take a step back and now take on the job of being a father. This has taught me a new skill, being a parent and a mentor. My motivations have changed and my drive for success has shifted because of being a parent.

Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

I am the co-founder of a charity called beautifullminds.com, which provides educational assistance to facilities and programs that help those in need of mental and spiritual support, physical education and therapy, and rehabilitation support. Since the pandemic began we have seen an increase in outreach for support. It is true, people are feeling more anxious and I am happy to have a foundation that provides resources so people can have access to mental and physical restoration services.

I also believe maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important for those who are feeling anxious. Make sure you are scheduling time for yourself, to do the things you love, enjoy and make you happy. Planning events, even as small as going on a walk or making a healthy dinner with a friend or family member are activities that can help reduce anxiety and put your mind at ease.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know the stock market and the economy, in general, have become extremely volatile and uncertain. Many people “dollar cost average” and put aside a monthly sum into a long-term savings plan for retirement, college, or a home purchase. If a loved one or a client came to you and said, “I have been saving and investing $500 every month in an S&P 500 index fund. Over the next few months until the dust settles, should I be doing something else with my money?”, what would you say to them?

I would tell them to continue to invest, dont pull out and trust that the dust will settle. Now that the world is opening up again people are eager to begin living. People are eager to spend their money on travel, shopping, dinners, experiences, large purchases and more! Investing your money will only give you a bigger return in the end. You are on the right track!

Eventually, the economy will recover and rebound. Certain sectors, like travel and hospitality, might be hurting for a while. But other sectors, like technology and healthcare, might do very well. If someone wanted to prepare today to take advantage of the future recovery, what would you suggest they do?

During the pandemic, it has become more evident that E-Commerce will be the future of shopping and receiving goods. This is one thing I do not think will change once everything settles. For this reason, I have decided to focus my time and energy on investing in E-Commerce, so starting an online business, investing in E-Commerce and working for an e-commerce website are great ways to take advantage and prepare for the future recovery.

Are there sectors that provide exciting and lucrative investment opportunities today, specifically because of the volatility and uncertainty?

Along with E-Commerce, I think that investing in the commercial medical real estate market is going to be a very lucrative investment for my firm. It is apparent now that healthcare is in need of reform and to be more accessible to the public, I am excited to take on these commercial real estate projects to build more medical offices. I started my education with a degree in Chemistry so the science and medical fields bring much interest to me. In the years to come this industry is going to completely change, I am excited to place my investments in these changes.

Are there alternative investments that you think more people should look more deeply at?

I believe that online healthcare access is going to be the wave of the future. Telehealth is going to take over for non office needed visits, so investing in this space is going to be something to keep an eye on and make wise investments in.

If a person in their thirties and forties came to you today and said that they have $10,000 that they want to put away today for a long-term investment, what would you advise them to do with it?

I would recommend diversifying their investments of $10,000- this would look like $2,000 to five different investments. There are many different ways and places to invest, my top 2 industries would be technology and the healthcare industry.

Ok, thank you! Here is a more general finance question. You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non-intuitive essentials for smart investing what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

  1. Be smart with your money! As I stated previously about my experience going into debt, debt can set you back immensely so make sure you are saving and spending wisely
  2. Be curious about investments. There is a lot to learn and a lot to know, don’t be afraid to ask questions and research your investments before investing.
  3. Start investing as soon as you are able to. The longer you have your investment the better the ROI, so the sooner you can begin investing the better.
  4. Find the right financial advisor. Make sure you have a financial advisor that you trust. Find a Financial Advisor that is fee based, ensuring that they will put your best interest first.
  5. Use tax-advantaged accounts (Roth IRA, a Traditional IRA, a 401(k) etc.) maximize tax free or tax deferred options

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

– Peter Drucker

I had an idea of how I wanted my life to be, I knew it wouldn’t be easy- and it wasn’t, but I knew I would have to create it for myself, no one else was going to do it for me.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I think that people with high influence, large bank accounts and many opportunities should be investing in non profits in order to help create opportunities for the less fortunate. I am so blessed to be in the position I am in which is why I started my non profit beautifulminds.com and I believe every entrepreneur and millionaire should also have their investments and an allocated portion of their money dedicated to social services.

Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!