PILF Jim | Left Field Investors

IS1 – Infielder Spotlight With Jim Pfeifer

PILF Jim | Left Field Investors


If you are looking to diversify your investments, this podcast is for you! Left Field Investors is a community of experienced individuals sharing resources and expertise to help their tribe members make informed decisions and take calculated risks. In this episode, Jim Pfeifer shares his journey to passive investing and how the community has played a big role in his success. Tune in and learn how you can grow your network and never have to take the risk alone.

This is our initial episode. For that, we have the honor of having our supreme leader, Jim Pfeifer, on with us to kick off this new show for the Left Field Investor group and introduce it. Jim has got a great story. He’d be a great first person to have on to transition us into this new show. Jim, welcome.

Thank you very much. I’m super excited about this show. I’m glad that you’re going to be the host. It’s going to be interesting to know the stories of various Infielders and their journey to passive investing. I can’t wait to read these episodes. I’m pleased that you’re doing this. Thanks for having me on, and thanks for allowing me to be the first guest. That is an honor in itself.

That’s exactly our goal. We think there’s a great story in everybody’s background to how they got to where they are now that will help anybody reading this. I know that’s what I have searched for a lot for a long time, so we thought it would be a good value add. That’s what we’re trying to jump into. To start off, give us the background. What has been the journey so far that’s gotten you to this point? What’s been the make-up to get you here?

I started as an accidental landlord. We had a rental property. I hated being a landlord. We did that for five years. It was 2008. We couldn’t sell the house. Once the market turned, we decided to sell it. My realtor conned me into him managing the house, refinancing the property, and buying two more rentals. It was the best thing I ever did. I loved it. He’s the best property manager I ever had. I finished selling the last property that I had with him this 2022. That started my journey.

I started in rentals and then went to turnkey. I then thought, “One door makes money. Let’s get more.” I bought a 22-unit, an 8-unit, and a 4-unit and handled it all horribly. I was not a good asset manager. I went through multiple property managers, and the cashflow wasn’t there. I’d gotten the real estate bug, so I kept at it and realized that the market had saved me. I ended up selling those properties. They never cashflowed, but they all appreciated mostly in Columbus, Ohio. Every market has been great. That got me into real estate.

I was a financial advisor at the same time and was learning about money. I’d always been a stock market guy. I found that real estate is investing. The stock market to me now is speculating because you’re buying something and hoping it goes up in price, and then you’re going to sell it to somebody else whereas, in real estate, you’re getting cashflow.

You have a benefit while you’re holding the asset, and you can force appreciation. Real estate was the thing. I finally found passive investing. That’s where I realized that’s what I want to do. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years. I’m a full-time passive investor. I don’t have a W-2 income anymore. I spend all my time doing Left Field Investor stuff and investing for my own family.

It’s quite a journey and a familiar story, probably for several people as well. What do you think has been the biggest piece that struck you on the passive side that got you out of the active instead? Has there been something that has triggered and has made it more popular for you to focus on?

I realized I was in both. I had some active investments, and I poked my head around syndications. I always thought that you couldn’t make as much money having someone else be the asset manager because you got to pay an asset management fee and property management fee. There are all kinds of extra added costs. What I found was the results are as good as or better in syndication than when I’m doing it myself.

I was trying to be a passive-active investor, which means I wanted to hold the assets, buy them myself, and then be passive. I don’t think you can do that. The way to beat the returns of syndications is if you are full-time, you know the market. You’re in it every day, so you have those advantages. For me, I was an active part-time investor trying to be passive. You can’t beat syndications that way.

The one thing for me was when I figured out I could hire a professional asset manager to do everything for me. The only active part of it for me is screening the sponsor and evaluating the deal, but once I send the wire, I’m just sitting back collecting money and reports and monitoring, but I don’t have any control. My results are much better because they’re professionals. They’re not part-timers. That’s the thing that opened my eyes. I thought, “I can do passive investing.” I dabbled in it a little bit, proved the concept, and then went all in.

That’s a story we like to know. That’s where some of us are trying to get to. You inspired me to jump into the passive side with your story as well. Along the way of going through and making those decisions, what resources have been the most helpful for you? What do you think has been key to getting you educated and comfortable to get to this point?

In the last few years, it’s 100% been community. I don’t mean to make this an advertisement for Left Field Investors. What I tell people when they’re getting into this is you don’t necessarily need Left Field Investors, but you need a community. You and I are biased. We think Left Field Investors is awesome because we’re part of it. I’m in three different communities, but the thing that has been the most beneficial to me is getting validation from the community and finding new sponsors and strategies through the community.

The first person I met that was a passive investor was another one of our founders, Steve Suh. I remember very clearly the sense of relief when he said, “I invested with this sponsor.” I was like, “I did too,” and then he said, “This is the deal.” I was like, “I’m in that same deal.” He’s a doctor. He’s a smart guy. He’s thoughtful. When I found out he had done this, I was like, “It’s probably not a scam,” because, on the first few things, I was like, “What am I doing here? Is this for real?” There was no way to validate that. That’s the power of community. It’s the validation that you’re in something real, good, and you’re on your way. The other part of it is you have people you can rely on.

I don’t invest in new deals and sponsors unless they’re recommended by somebody I know, like, and trust who’s in my community and who’s already invested with them. I push that farther. If I’m looking for an attorney, financial advisor or CPA, I use the community. I know I talk about it too much, but the power of community is phenomenal for this because you cannot walk out your front door and go talk to your neighbor and say, “I’m thinking about this mobile home park investment in a real estate syndication.” They’ll think you’re nuts. You can go out the front door and say, “What mutual funds or stocks are you buying?” They’ll talk your ear off about that, but for syndications, you need a community because you need people to talk all this through with.

You’re right. I have fallen into that in a positive way as well for the fact that I go straight to our form when I’m going to look at a new sponsor or general partner. If I don’t see any dialogue in there, I have the ability to put the question in and say, “Has anybody ever heard of Chad Ackerman GP?” If I don’t see any feedback on Chad Ackerman, I delay trying to invest in them to not be a guinea pig when our community has grown enough that we can get good feedback on a lot of solid sponsors. There’s no reason for me to take that risk of being the first to invest with somebody. Hopefully, we’ve got enough sponsors for me to get in deals with. I’ll put it that way.

I agree with you. That’s the same process I use. I don’t want to exclude anybody just because I don’t know them, and they might be an up-and-coming syndicator, or they might be experienced, and we don’t know them. With those types of syndicators that I don’t have people in my community who are familiar with them, I will get to know them. I’ll ask them to send me deals and get on their list. I also tell them it will take me a full year of watching their deals and trying to get to know them before I might tiptoe in.

I do that because I don’t want to exclude anybody because I don’t know them or our community doesn’t know. We might be missing a good sponsor, so I give them a chance. I do it in a very different way. If I have them referred by my community and other people investing, I feel a lot more comfortable. The trust transfers.

That’s the beauty of the community. That’s good. This is how you’ve gotten into the process. One of the things we want to give feedback to our audience is lessons learned or a piece of advice for getting started knowing a lot of our community members are new to the space. What kind of lessons learned or help getting started can you give advice towards helping people out?

There are a couple of lessons learned, and you mentioned one of them. I don’t want to be anybody’s guinea pig. The times that I’ve gotten in trouble, meaning I’ve had investments go bad, is when a syndicator pivoted and did something new that they hadn’t done before. Maybe they didn’t hire someone experienced.

There are some syndicators that are moving into different asset classes, and they might hire someone who has done it for ten years. I may not invest in their first deal. I may watch it, but I may invest in future deals. When somebody is going into something completely new and don’t have any experience, that’s something that I shy away from. We have experienced people in our group, and we have some new people. The cool thing is we all learn from both, but the thing that I recommend to the new people is to join a community.

If you’re in our community, the best way to get started is to watch a couple of our meetings. All of our past meetings are recorded on the website. That will give you a flavor for the culture of our community and how that fits in with your personality, but then dive in. If you’re in the Infield, go to the forum and start posting things. Go to a mound visit. These mound visits are meetings that have no agenda hosted by one of the four founders other than me. You can talk and network, or you can just listen. It’s on the audio app, Clubhouse. Listen in or talk and ask questions. Those are phenomenal. We’ve gotten great feedback about that.

Join the community, jump in, and try to start getting to know people because that’s how you grow your own network. We are always taking sign-ups for Tribevest, the group investing platform, and we have a list. That’s a way for a beginner because it reduces your minimums because you’re investing with a group. You can diversify, but the main thing is you have a group of people, a mini-community, or a tribe where you’re talking about investments.

If someone brings up an investment, they have to prove that it’s a good one, so you’re all talking about it and learning. There are a ton of different ways that you can jump in. What we’re trying to do here is we’re trying to give everybody the opportunity to network, build their own community within Left Field Investors, and find ways to learn together. That’s for experienced people and brand new people, and we have all of them. The great thing about our community is they’re so willing to share their expertise or ask the questions that new people ask that they might be afraid to ask, or someone who’s been doing it for a few years should have asked but didn’t. We’re all learning and getting to know each other. That’s our community.

We give good advice for people to get started in many different ways and give them the confidence to take the first step. To wrap things up here, I would like to ask what’s next for you. Where are you headed from here? Maybe you could talk about Left Field or yourself, personally, while we’ve got this platform to share a little bit of both. I know we have a lot going on.

First, I’ll talk about myself. I’ve been passively investing for five years, which isn’t that long. 2012 is when it got going. For me, I’ve been doing the shotgun approach to start. I wanted to invest with a lot of different syndicators and asset classes at the absolute minimum because even though I’m getting recommended by people I know, like, and trust, I want to test these syndicators out.

These are such long-term illiquid deals. You have no control. They might not go full cycle for five years. It’s going to take me five years to figure out who are the sponsors I want to go all-in with. In the next couple of years, I’ll be having a lot of deals going full cycle. When I reallocate capital, I will be going in for fewer syndicators in larger amounts because I’ll have confidence in some. Maybe the others are not as good, so I won’t put as much money on them, but that’s me.

As far as Left Field Investors, we have added so many things. We have lunch and learns that we’re going to do at least once or twice a month. We’re going to have people come in and educate our community. We introduced the mound visits, which I already talked about. Intros are something that anyone can do where it’s one-on-one networking. That’s something that people are doing.

We have Preferred Partners now. We have some syndicators that were voted on by our community allocating dollars to these different partners, and they’ve agreed to sponsor us because we’ve figured out that we need to sustain this community. We need a little bit more revenue, and we’d rather get it from our partners than from our members. We have the preferred partner list. We have a lot of other things coming up. We’re looking at this portfolio tracking company. You and I and a couple of other founders are beta testing this software which will be amazing. They are making it for people like us, syndication investors, so you can track all of your investments and distributions and run reports. It’s going to be great.

In the Infield, we have something like that, but to be honest, it’s not the greatest. We haven’t spent money to improve it because this other one is coming down the line, and we’re hoping to have that launch this summer of 2022. We’re hoping to have an in-person meeting in the fall of 2022. There are other initiatives that we’re working on. We’re hoping to have sponsor reviews soon where you can do a Yelp or Amazon review of sponsors. There’s a ton going on.

We have other ideas I’m not ready to say yet because I don’t know when they’re going to be implemented, and I don’t want to get people’s hopes up. We are not growing purposefully as fast as we can. We’re not going on Facebook and getting numbers of people. We’re getting quality people and like-minded people.

Like-minded people are people that are interested in real assets to produce income and are like-minded, so we’re all looking for financial freedom to ditch or reduce the W-2, or however you want to look at it. There’s so much going on. We’re growing like crazy. The community is doing well. As we’ve talked about before, the founders were five guys trying to figure stuff out. That’s how we’ve gone, and that’s how we continue to go. The community keeps growing, and we keep getting quality people. It’s great. I love it.

It has been quite the journey. I agree. Thanks to your leadership. You’ve done a wonderful job of starting this out as wanting to be 10 to 15 people locally in Columbus, Ohio, that get together over beers and talk about syndications. Here we are years later, and we’ve grown it into what it is. It’s fantastic.

It’s making a lot of stuff up because I don’t think we have the vision of it being this without the pandemic. That’s the good thing that came out of the pandemic. We’ve been able to reach a lot of people, and they’re coming every day, which is fantastic. I love talking to all the people that are new to the community and found us somewhere along the way. Hopefully, we can give them advice as we’re already doing. I appreciate you being on. This has been great. I appreciate the time.

Thank you. This was a pleasure. It’s nice to be a guest on the show. You’re doing a great job as a host. I cannot wait to hear all of the stories from our community. The founders have done a lot. We’ve put this community together. We didn’t necessarily do it on purpose, but it has turned into something great. Now, the content is coming from our community, and that’s where our strength is going to be going forward. It’s the community members being involved in the community and pushing this beyond the five of us to everybody out there. You’re doing a fantastic job on the show. Congratulations. I love it. We’ll see where it goes from here.

Thanks. We’ll see you at the next one.

Thank you.


Important Links

About Jim Pfeifer

My goal is to constantly learn new ways to build wealth and share that information with investors. I help people learn how to accumulate real assets, use tax efficient strategies and protect their assets while growing their wealth. There are no wrong ways to save or to build wealth, but the traditional methods of investing and saving may not be the most efficient or effective. I work with investors who are interested in hearing new ideas, learning new strategies and building their wealth steadily over time.


Our sponsor, Tribevest provides the easiest way to form, fund, and manage your Investor Tribe with people you know, like, and trust. Tribevest is the Investor Tribe management platform of choice for Jim Pfeifer and the Left Field Investors’ Community.

Tribevest is a strategic partner and sponsor of Passive Investing from Left Field.

Chris Franckhauser

Vice President of Strategy & Growth, Advisory Partner

Chris Franckhauser, Vice President of Strategy & Growth, Advisory Partner for Left Field Investors, has been involved in real estate since 2008. He started with one single-family fix and flip, and he was hooked. He then scaled, completing five more over a brief period. While he enjoyed the journey and the financial tailwinds that came with each completed project, being an active investor with a W2 at the time, became too much to manage with a young and growing family. Seeing this was not easily scalable or sustainable long term, he searched for alternative ideas on where to invest. He explored other passive income streams but kept coming back to his two passions; real estate and time with his family. He discovered syndications after reconnecting with a former colleague and LFI Founder. He joined Left Field Investors in 2023 and has quickly immersed himself into the community and as a key member of our team.  

Chris earned a B.S. from The Ohio State University. After years in healthcare technology and medical devices, from startups to Fortune 15 companies, Chris shifted his efforts to consulting and owning a small apparel business when he is not working with LFI (Left Field Investors) or on his personal passive investments. A few years ago, Chris and his family left the cold life in Ohio for lake life in the Carolinas. Chris lives in Tega Cay, South Carolina with his wife and two kids. In his free time, he enjoys exploring all the things the Carolinas offer, from the beaches to the mountains and everywhere in between, volunteering at the school, coaching his kids’ sports teams and cheering on the Buckeyes from afar.  

Chris knows investing is a team sport. Being a strategic thinker and analytical by nature, the ability to collaborate with like-minded individuals in the Left Field Community and other communities is invaluable.  

Jim Pfeifer

President, Chief Executive Officer, Founder

Jim Pfeifer is one of the founders of Left Field Investors and the host of the Passive Investing from Left Field podcast. Left Field Investors is a group dedicated to educating and assisting like-minded investors negotiate the nuances of the passive investing landscape and world of syndications. Jim is a former financial advisor who became frustrated with the one-path-fits-all approach of the standard financial services industry. Jim now concentrates on investing in real assets that produce cash flow and is committed to sharing his knowledge with others who are interested in learning a different way to grow wealth.

Jim not only advises and helps people get started in passive real estate syndications, he also invests alongside them in small groups to allow for diversification among multiple investments and syndication sponsors. Jim believes the most important factor in a successful syndication is finding a sponsor that he knows, likes and trusts.

He has invested in over 100 passive syndications including apartments, mobile homes, self-storage, private lending and notes, ATM’s, commercial and industrial triple net leases, assisted living facilities and international coffee farms and cacao producers. Jim is constantly looking for new investment ideas that match his philosophy of real assets producing cash flow as well as looking for new sponsors with whom he can build quality, long-term relationships. Jim earned a degree in Finance & Marketing from the University of Oregon and a Master’s in Business Education from The Ohio State University. He has worked as a reinsurance underwriter, high school finance teacher, financial advisor and now works exclusively as a full-time passive investor. Jim lives in Dublin, Ohio with his wife, three kids and two dogs. In his free time, he loves to ski, play Ultimate frisbee and cheer on the Buckeyes.

Jim earned a degree in Finance & Marketing from the University of Oregon and a Master’s in Business Education from The Ohio State University. He has worked as a reinsurance underwriter, high school finance teacher, financial advisor and now works exclusively as a full-time passive investor. Jim lives in Dublin, Ohio with his wife, three kids and two dogs. In his free time, he loves to ski, play Ultimate frisbee and cheer on the Buckeyes.

Chad Ackerman

Chief Operating Officer, Founder

Chad is the Founder & Chief Operating Officer of Left Field Investors and the host of the LFI Spotlight podcast. Chad was in banking most of his career with a focus on data analytics, but in March of 2023 he left his W2 to become LFI’s second full time employee.

Chad always had a passion for real estate, so his analytics skills translated well into the deal analyzer side of the business. Through his training, education and networking Chad was able to align his passive investing to compliment his involvement with LFI while allowing him to grow his wealth and take steps towards financial freedom. He has appreciated the help he’s received from others along his journey which is why he is excited to host the LFI Spotlight podcast and share the experience of other investors and industry experts to assist those that are looking for education for their own journey.

Chad has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business with a Minor in Real Estate from the University of Cincinnati. He is working to educate his two teenagers in the passive investing world. In his spare time he likes to golf, kayak, and check out the local brewery scene.

Ryan Steig

Chief Financial Officer, Founder

Ryan Stieg started down the path of passive investing like many of us did, after he picked up a little purple book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad. The problem was that he did that in college and didn’t take action to start investing passively until many years later when that itch to invest passively crept back up.

Ryan became an accidental landlord after moving from Phoenix back to Montana in 2007, a rental he kept until 2016 when he started investing more intentionally. Since 2016, Ryan has focused (or should we say lack thereof) on all different kinds of investing, always returning to real estate and business as his mainstay. Ryan has a small portfolio of one-to-three-unit rentals across four different markets in the US. He has also invested in over fifty real estate syndication investments individually or with an investment group or tribe. Working to diversify in multiple asset classes, Ryan invests in multi-family, note funds, NNN industrial, retail, office, self-storage, online businesses, start-ups, and several other asset classes that further cement his self-diagnosis of “shiny object syndrome”.

However, with all of those reaches over the years, Ryan still believes in the long-term success and tenets of passive, cash-flow-focused investing with proven syndicators and shared knowledge in investing.

When he’s not working with LFI or on his personal passive investments, he recently opened a new Club Pilates franchise studio after an insurance career. Outside of that, he can be found with his wife watching whatever sport one of their two boys is involved in during that particular season.

Steve Suh

Chief Content Officer, Founder

Steve Suh, one of the founders of Left Field Investors and its Chief Content Officer, has been involved with real estate and alternative assets since 2005. Like many, he saw his net worth plummet during the two major stock market crashes in the early 2000s. Since then, he vowed to find other ways to invest his money. Reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad gave Steve the impetus to learn about real estate investing. He first became a landlord after purchasing his office condo. He then invested passively as a limited partner in oil and gas drilling syndications but quickly learned the importance of scrutinizing sponsors when he stopped getting returns after only a few months. Steve came back to real estate by buying a few small residential rentals. Seeing that this was not easily scalable, he searched for alternative ideas. After listening to hundreds of podcasts and attending numerous real estate investing meetings, he determined that passively investing in real estate syndications was the best avenue to get great, risk-adjusted returns. He has invested in dozens of syndications involving apartment buildings, self-storage facilities, resort properties, ATMs, Bitcoin mining funds, car washes, a coffee farm, and even a Broadway show.

When Steve is not vetting commercial real estate syndications in the evenings, he is stomping out eye diseases and improving vision during the day as an ophthalmologist. He enjoys playing in his tennis and pickleball leagues and rooting for his Buckeyes and Steelers football teams. In the past several years, he took up running and has completed three full marathons, including the New York City Marathon. He is always on a quest to find great pizza, BBQ brisket, and bourbon. He enjoys traveling with his wife and their three adult kids. They usually go on a medical mission trip once a year to southern Mexico to provide eye surgeries and glasses to the residents. Steve has enjoyed being a part of Left Field Investors to help others learn about the merits of passive, real asset investments.

Sean Donnelly

Chief Culture Officer, Founder

Sean holds a W2 job in the finance sector and began his real estate investing journey shortly after earning his MBA. Unfortunately, it could not have begun at a worse time … anyone remember 2007 … but even the recession provided worthy lessons. Sean stayed in the game continuing to find his place, progressing from flipping to owning single and multi-family rentals to now funding opportunities through syndications. While Sean is still heavily invested in the equities market and holds a small portfolio of rentals, he strongly believes passive investing is the best way to offset the cyclical nature of traditional investment vehicles as well as avoid the headaches of direct property ownership. Through consistent cash flow, long term yield and available tax benefits, the diversification offered with passive investing brings a welcomed balance to an otherwise turbulent investing scheme. What Sean likes most about the syndication space is that the investment opportunities are not “one size fits all” and the community of investors genuinely want to help.

He earned a B.S. in Finance from Iowa State University in 1995 and a MBA from Otterbein University in 2007. Sean has lived in eight states but has called Ohio home for the last 20+.  When not attending his children’s various school/sporting events, Sean can be found running, golfing, shooting or fly-fishing.

Patrick Wills

Chief Information Officer, Advisory Partner

An active real estate investor since 2017, Patrick Wills’ investing journey began like many others – after reading the “purple book” by Robert Kiyosaki. Patrick started with single family rentals, and while they performed well, he quickly realized their inability to scale efficiently while remaining passive. He discovered syndications via podcasts and local meetups and never looked back. He joined Left Field Investors in 2022 as a member and has quickly become an integral part of the team as Vice President of Technology.

An I.T. Systems Engineer by trade, he experienced the limitations of traditional Wall Street investing firsthand in his career and knew there had to be a better way to truly have financial freedom.

Unfortunately, that better way is inaccessible to those who need it most. His mission is to make alternative investments accessible to everyone who seeks to take control of their financial future and to pursue their passions in life.

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