Business Leader: The Woman Behind the Billion-Dollar Empire is a proud CFO (Chief Family Officer)
Aboard their latest asset, the Gulfstream 550, Elena Cardone appears to be in her natural habitat, amongst beauty and style that emits a brazen power. Tricia Love, L.A. STYLE’s Creative Director, explores how this powerhouse got to the top and is teaching us how we also can climb the financial ladder to wealth. Elena Cardone is a mother, author, public speaker, philanthropist, personal development coach and CFO (Chief Family Officer) of Cardone Capital. With a real estate portfolio valued at $1 billion, the Cardone Empire is ever-growing in the most intelligent and honorable ways and still remembering their humble beginnings, making real estate investing accessible to all.
Elena is candid on her rise to the top; it is a journey that speaks of hard lessons learned and now despite her private nature, she is taking on the task of sharing with the world her secret sauce. She makes it look easy. On social media and in all of her interviews, she is painfully honest out of a moral agenda to help others accomplish what she has. “What people don’t know about me is that I might make things look easy and fun, though I’m very comfortable being very open, it’s not natural for me.” She chooses her words meticulously as though this is a metaphor for her empire-building. She is calculated, protective and fierce.
Q: Did you always know that you wanted to inspire others? “No. Nope, nope, nope. When I was younger, I wanted to be an actress… everything was focused on me… So, I wanted to move out to Los Angeles. I wanted to have my whole thing revolve around me. I never wanted a boyfriend. I never wanted to be married. I never envisioned myself with kids. I know it sounds horrible, but it was really all about me. And I really only depended on me to get there. I moved to Los Angeles at 17 from New Orleans. I didn’t know anything out here. I had to find my own way. It wasn’t easy, but I’m a scrapper. I didn’t have the vision to really inspire other people.”
Q: When did you own your power? “I hit a light, a point in my life when I met Grant, and we fell in love. He changed my mind about being married and then actually my desire for wanting kids. Once that happened, I realized, ‘Wow, I’m so much bigger.’ I became more powerful as a woman, as a person, in everything through the help of Grant, and through the help of other people too, but mainly through him. I really came into a whole other power and then add kids to the element. As a mom that opens up a whole other world. Other people depended on me, and I needed to rise up to the occasion. At this point in my life it isn’t all about me, very little time it was all about me actually. But I’m okay with that. Now I’m financially at a point where I’m okay. I can’t destroy it unless there’s a nuclear situation, then we’re all screwed. At the path that I’m on right now, I can’t destroy the wealth that we’ve created and continue to create so I can have anything that I want.”
Q: How do you manage and balance it all? “My alarm goes off at 4:50 a.m. I hit snooze at 5:00 a.m. the alarm goes off again, and my feet hit the floor. At 5:00 a.m., I’m going. Well, I never think in terms of balance, I don’t know what that means. You know, my balance is going to be different from your balance. I really have tried; I’ve racked my head because I get asked this all the time and I want to know the right answer to say to that. I just figure it out. I start my day off with my time. That’s why I wake up so early, because it’s the only time I have to myself. If the kids are starting to fight more, for example, I realize I need to put more attention into them and spend more time with them.”
Q: We hear you shoot guns? “My friends will tell you I’m a tomboy. I’m happiest with guns in my hand running down a range, or like with the sweaty guys in the gym trying to learn martial arts, which is so funny. That’s when I’m most happy.”
Q: Life on the top. What is that like? “When you can have anything that you want, then the game no longer is about having anything you want. Then it becomes about how do I get other people up here with us? Because up at the top, I’ve met the people up at the top. I don’t always love what I see up here. It’s extremely disappointing. I’m not that person. I don’t fit in. I fit in with real people. I come from New Orleans. We’re real people. You know, and that’s who I want to be with. I want to open it up so my people can go up to the top, so we can all be at the top playing with each other.”
Q: What does partnership look like for you and Grant: “I’m the architect in our relationship and Grant is the doer. That’s why we work well, he knows how to hammer and go. But I have the ideas… He knows how to take that idea and make a structure and so we’re really a good team. I had the idea to do Cardone Capital, which is this real estate fund that we got approved by the SEC to now open it to the non-accredited. The idea came from the fact that my friends couldn’t do the accredited route. Accredited means you had to make $200,000 a year for two years in a row or have $1 million in assets. In my family, my sister, my mom, my friends didn’t have that. We finally got the SEC to approve us to open it up. All you need is a $5,000 minimum. So, here’s t the thing. We opened up our real estate portfolio, people can crowdfund. We all have $100 million, $150 million in assets, 500 units over 30 acres. My people can have a piece of that Wall Street. You’d never be able to have an asset like this. They don’t want you to have it. The system’s rigged against you. But we found out a way on my Pilates ball as I’m bouncing. I’m thinking, ‘How do I get us to that level and turn around, and give them the middle finger and have helped so many people in the meantime.’”
Essentially, they become investors into the project in exchange for a percentage… and they get the ROI.“You are very, very right, right. And then to top that, we have a big point. We have the plan so we all have a payday. So that was my plan. Now that I’ve done that, it’s been so successful. So, it’s going really well because what’s going to happen is it’s going to allow me to get to my $10 billion figure, which is where I want to go. My first goal was a billion, and I’ll hit $1.2 assets under management soon. Then target two is $10 billion. So, I’ve figured out how to make us take the leap and help people. So, it’s a mutual thing. Plus, we have the whole vision of all of us on top together. Grant is so amazing at helping people figure out their finances and really change their mindset on that. It has given us a big opportunity to help a lot of people. Now that’s my mission. That’s all I want to do is to make a difference for the better.”
Q: Tell us a little bit about your book. One of my favorite parts of the book is how proactive you are with your readers and the exercises in the book. You say, “Don’t just read another book!” You provide engaging action items to do. You help the reader to evaluate who’s in the royal court, which is key to know who’s on your team. But it’s those action items that I really appreciated that you had in there. “I released it in November. The book Build an Empire How to Have it All, is really my role. I wanted to expose my role in this empire and what I do, and what we do together. Because there was nobody that I could look to that sharing this is how we got there. This book has all of that in there, whether you’re in a relationship or not, how to get your purpose, your mindset, your integrity, your courage and your honor, everything is geared to thinking big enough to go create an empire. You are either creating an empire, or you’re destroying one with every single decision and action that you make or are not making every single day.”
You and Grant are a power couple!“We definitely are a power couple. We know what we want as a couple, therefore, it is not just me and him operating in a marriage, doing our own thing. It’s like we have goals that we want to obtain as a couple; it helps make a bigger picture for everything that we do.”