Navigating Economic Resets: Insights from Investment Veteran, Russell Gray

In a captivating episode of the Passive Investing from Left Field podcast, host Jim Pfeifer sits down with Russell Gray, a seasoned financial strategist and co-host of the Real Estate Guys Radio Show. Russell shares his wealth of knowledge on economic resets, the importance of focusing on cash flow, and the pitfalls of relying solely on Wall Street for investment advice.

A Journey of Passion and Purpose

Russell’s journey into investing began with a desire to be a teacher and coach. Realizing that traditional education roles wouldn’t provide the financial stability he sought, he ventured into financial education. His mission was to empower individual liberty through knowledge and effective action.

Russell’s path led him to the Real Estate Guys Radio Show, where he joined forces with Robert Helms to build a thriving financial education business. The duo experienced tremendous success until the 2008 financial crisis, which taught Russell the importance of understanding macroeconomics and the risks associated with overreliance on debt and speculation.

A History of Economic Resets

To contextualize the current economic landscape, Russell takes listeners on a fascinating tour of historical financial resets in the United States. From the introduction of the Federal Reserve and income tax in 1913 to the decoupling of the dollar from gold in 1971, each reset has had profound impacts on the economy and the lives of everyday Americans.

Russell emphasizes that the current environment, characterized by rapid interest rate hikes and a potential shift away from the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, could lead to another significant reset. He cautions that investors who have only experienced the post-2010 bull market may be caught off guard if they don’t study history and understand the underlying risks.

The Power of Cash Flow

In an era of economic uncertainty, Russell advises investors to focus on assets that generate real income rather than relying solely on appreciation. He illustrates this point with a simple example: a debt-free $5 million property with no income versus a $2 million property with 50% debt and $100,000 annual income. The latter, he argues, is the wealthier position, as income is the foundation of true equity.

Russell encourages investors to seek out opportunities that prioritize cash flow, as this approach provides stability during economic downturns. By investing in real assets that produce real income, investors can weather the storms of market volatility and build lasting wealth.

Educating Yourself as a Passive Investor

One of the most crucial takeaways from Russell’s interview is the importance of education for passive investors. He emphasizes that being a limited partner (LP) in a syndication does not absolve one of the responsibility to understand the underlying investment thesis and risks.

Russell advises LPs to dive deep into the economic context, demographic trends, and market fundamentals that drive the success of a given investment opportunity. By educating themselves and asking the right questions, passive investors can make informed decisions and avoid falling victim to hype or speculation.

Diversifying Beyond Wall Street

Russell pulls no punches when discussing his views on Wall Street, stating that the traditional financial system often prioritizes its own interests over those of individual investors. He argues that Main Street investors should focus on investing directly in real assets, such as real estate, rather than funneling their hard-earned money into the hands of Wall Street institutions.

By engaging in private placement syndications and building relationships with experienced operators, passive investors can gain exposure to investments they truly understand, such as apartment buildings or self-storage facilities. This approach, Russell believes, offers a more transparent and human-centric alternative to the often opaque world of Wall Street investing.

The Importance of Real Money

In light of the potential for currency instability, Russell recommends that investors allocate a portion of their liquid net worth to precious metals, such as gold and silver. He argues that these “real money” assets can provide a hedge against inflation and protect wealth in the event of a financial system reset or currency collapse.

Russell cautions against viewing gold and silver solely as investments that appreciate in dollar terms. Instead, he advises investors to think of these assets as a means of preserving purchasing power over the long term, regardless of the prevailing currency.

Continuous Learning and Macro Awareness

Throughout the episode, Russell emphasizes the importance of continuous learning and staying attuned to the broader macroeconomic environment. He recommends following thought leaders like Mike Maloney, George Gammon, and Kenny McElroy, who provide valuable insights into the intricacies of the financial system, real estate investing, and wealth preservation strategies.

By dedicating time to self-education and surrounding oneself with knowledgeable individuals, passive investors can develop the skills and intuition necessary to navigate the ever-changing landscape of alternative investments.

The Road Ahead

As the conversation draws to a close, Russell reminds listeners that the path to financial freedom is paved with responsibility and active engagement. While the journey may seem daunting at times, he assures aspiring investors that with dedication and a willingness to learn, anyone can become a successful investor.

In a world of economic uncertainty and potential resets, Russell Gray’s insights serve as a beacon for passive investors seeking to build lasting wealth through real assets and cash flow. By focusing on education, diversification, and a macro-aware approach to investing, individuals can position themselves to thrive in the face of any challenge the future may hold.

To learn more about Russell Gray and his work in financial education, interested listeners can follow him on various platforms by sending an email to This simple step unlocks a wealth of resources and opportunities to engage with one of the most respected voices in the world of alternative investing.

Take Your Passive Investing to the Next Level with Left Field Investors

Join the Left Field Investors (LFI) Infielder Community and unlock a world of exclusive benefits designed to help you succeed in the alternative assets space.

As an Infielder, you’ll gain access to:

  • Full access to the LFI website, packed with educational content and resources
  • Live LFI monthly meetings and expanded networking opportunities
  • Exclusive access to live deal webinars and recordings from top-tier sponsors
  • Full access to the LFI community, including forums and interest clubs
  • Infielder-only meetings, regional clubs, and special events
  • Exclusive LFI tools to help you analyze deals and make informed decisions
  • LFI Sponsor Reviews (coming soon) to help you vet potential investments

Your Infielder membership is just $199 for the first year, with a discounted renewal rate of $165/year. This is a small investment compared to the wealth of knowledge, connections, and opportunities to which you’ll gain access.

Take advantage of insights from experienced investors like Russel Gray, who share their hard-earned lessons on conducting due diligence, diversifying portfolios, and avoiding common pitfalls. With the support of the LFI community, you’ll be well on your way to building a strong passive income portfolio.

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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