How 'Risky Builders' Star Chris Naugle Went From Middle Class to Multi-Millions
A conversation with the entrepreneur and TV personality on his pursuit of success and that perfect day.
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
When Chris Naugle was growing up in a lower-middle-class family in a small town called Lockport, New York, he never imagined that he’d come to manage over 30 million dollars in assets in the financial services and advisory industry, have built and owned 16 companies over 20 years, be behind more than 260 real estate deals worth tens of millions, and co-host an HGTV series with his wife, Lorissa.
How did this always-fascinated-with-money entrepreneur build his empires from such humble beginnings? I had the chance to sit down with the Risky Builders star to find out how he came to dedicate his life to being one of America’s most well-known money mentors.
I’d love to take readers back to where you’ve been, to help them understand how you’ve been able to get to where you are now.
I was raised in a lower-middle-class family by a single mother. I learned early on what it takes to build something from next to nothing. To get ahead, I had to do what most others were unwilling to do. I had to fail and hear “no” far more than most people, and that became the one thing that pushed me. The greatest accelerants to my success were the lessons I learned growing up. I learned that every “no” was one step closer to a “yes,” and every failure was an important experience that I needed to become successful. I also learned that fear was just an illusion, one that could be overcome. Fear was something I had to face and conquer in my pursuit to becoming a professional snowboarder.
Everything I’ve built today has come in large part from what I’ve learned or experienced firsthand. I think that is what makes me stand out as a teacher. When I speak to audiences, I can deeply relate to their financial struggles and lack of understanding of how money really works.
Related: 10 Tips for Getting Your Business on Reality TV
So, how does money really work?
I think very few of us understand how money really works, because we’ve never been taught. The crime of our time is that the greatest financial knowledge isn’t taught, it’s sought out. I’m trying to change that. We all know that money is a means of exchange. When I talk to audiences about how money really works, I challenge them to think about how a bank works with money. They lend out money that is not theirs, they charge interest, they keep that money moving and working to their benefit. What I’m doing differently is teaching people to become their own bank.
What else are you doing differently in the industry that makes you stand out?
The biggest thing I do differently is think differently, and I challenge everyone I speak with to do so as well. I want people to question everything they’ve ever been taught about money, because most of it is wrong. That may sound harsh, but it’s true. We’re unnecessarily giving up control of our money, because we’ve been taught to give up our good dollars today and be paid back with weaker dollars later. Most of us put money into retirement accounts that we don’t have access to for decades, only to take out the dollars that are worth less later and get taxed on it.
The kicker is that we’re giving all our money away, while unnecessarily assuming additional risk. I want to teach people how to think differently about their ability to become the bank, reclaim control of their money and stop costing themselves their financial freedom — today and in the future.
What are you most excited about right now and what does the future look like for you?
I’m extremely passionate about my work. Right now, I’m speaking three to four times a week to groups as small as 40 and as large as [in the] thousands, all across the country. I’m also really excited about my second book, Mapping Out the Millionaire Mystery, that will be out in early 2020. It’s going to give readers the modern-day perspective on what it means to be your own bank, and the financial freedom that comes from that.
Most often, I think about my future and my dreams for one reason only: I need to know what I want so I can create that perfect day in my head and then write it down. If I don’t know what my dreams look like, how can I create the action steps to actually live them? Once I know every second of that perfect day, I then create the necessary steps to reverse engineer every day leading up to that perfect day. Our futures all start right now, because the now is all we have control of.
Related: Exclusive Q&A With the ‘Shark Tank’ Investors
How can entrepreneurs most benefit from your work and teachings?
What if I told you that you could get back all or most of the money you’ve ever spent for every business expense you’ve ever had? Or one of my other favorite questions is: What if I can show you how to get all the money back for all the cars you will ever buy, drive and own?
My work sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. Any entrepreneur can make a reality out of both of these statements when they make the choice to become their own bank and when they understand the simple principles the wealthy use every day. It really all begins with thinking differently about money — differently than you’ve been taught and differently than most of the population thinks about money. You and the elite or the super wealthy all have access to the same financial tools and education. The only difference is that the super wealthy know how to use the tools differently.