We had the good fortune of connecting with Will Wheaton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Will, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
The thought process behind starting my business was very simple. For me it has always been about freedom in every way. I learned early on that I was a good worker. However, I also learned that I never wanted to be told what to do, job security was a lie, and you will never get rich working for someone.. LOL.
My parents made it abundantly clear that I would have to work and they were great examples for me.. My Dad worked all of his life. He worked originally for Masonite in Mississippi where I was born. When we moved to California in the 60’s he worked for Lever Bros until he retired in the late 80’s. My Mom, was mostly a stay at home Mom which I am truly grateful for. However, In my teenage years she started working for a school that was owned and operated by a family member.
From a very young age I wanted to have my own business. One of my MANY weekly chores was cutting our lawn at home. One day one of the neighbors came by and asked me if I would cut her lawn. I said yes, and then another neighbor asked. As a result I started a lawn cutting business. I would use the money from that business to buy the things that I wanted. It was great because it taught me very early on about working for what I wanted and the value of money. Whenever I would tell my Mom about something I wanted she would say, “okay How many yards will you need to cut to get that”? It’s amazing how much that still plays apart in my life today.
Later, I started singing more and more and people began to ask me to sing for their different life events(weddings, parties, etc). My Dad one day said to me. ” How much are you charging to sing for these people”. I told him what my rate was. He said, “if people don’t have any money they shouldn’t be getting married”. LOL. Soon after that I started raising my rates and to my surprise most people had no problem paying what I asked. This taught me to know my worth and to always deliver value.
In my last year in High school I went to work for what was then known as First interstate bank. I had a passion for accounting and my accounting teacher told me about a program that was helping people to get jobs in the banking industry. I got the info and immediately filled out an application. Soon after I was hired at First Interstate bank on 54th and Crenshaw in Los Angeles. My supervisor Mrs. Crenshaw, was one of the sweetest most supportive people I think I ever met. She taught me how to be a professional. I quickly started advancing in the company and ended up working in the division that processed all of the ATM transactions for the cirrus network. I really enjoyed that job. However, at the same time I started getting a lot of calls for music recording sessions. More specifically commercials. Most of the commercial houses and record producers worked during the day. I started getting calls and begging off work to go and sing. My supervisor at that time was very accomodating. She knew I got most of my work done first thing in the morning so she would allow me to leave and I would always tell her to dock me for the time. Sometimes she did. Sometimes she did not. More on that later.
During this same time I auditioned for a show called the USA music Challenge. This show which was produced by Dic Clark was the brain child of American Idol. It happened right on the heels of Star Search. I was one of 3000 people to audition. In fact I was #3000. The day after I auditioned I learned that I booked the show. I was told that they liked the fact that I auditioned with an Original song. There were three Categories for music. Male vocalist, Female Vocalist, and Band. I won the music category Singing Michael Jackson’s Lady in My Life. The show taped live at the Universal Ampitheatre in front of a full audience of 6000 people. It was thrilling and frightening all at the same time. What made this show different from Star Search was that you won a single record deal as oppose to money. I also won about 30k worth of recording equipment. The record deal was with MCA.
After winning the show. I got thrust into the dog eat dog world better known as the recording industry. Long story short because I came in as a contest winner there were doubts about if I could actually deliver a HIT. I had been writing my own music for quite a while by this point so I knew or at least hoped I could change their minds. I was immediately placed into the studio with a great producer and now friend named Les Pierce. Our first time in the studio we did a remake of the Barry white HIt I’m Gonna Love You. I took it into the label the next day and the head of A&R loved it!!! He said, how soon can you bring me a ballad? I went back into the studio that night with Les and we wrote a song called I Belong To You. I took it to the label the next day and he lost it! “This is gonna be amazing”. Well he was almost right.
After I delivered the second single. The legal department was instructed to call my attorney and make me an offer for a full album with a $300K budget. We were over the moon. What I didn’t know is there was some internal fighting going on between the head of A*&R and the head of the label. I got caught in the middle of the fight and literally the day my renegotiated contracts were delivered to my attorney the head of A&R was let go. As a result I was offered the original Single deal I won on the show in take it or leave it fashion. I left it. It was a horrible deal that promised nothing and tied up everything. LOL My attorney’s advised me not to sign and despite my desire not to I listened. We begged them to keep the renogtiated deal and even had Mr. Clark to call them and tell them that he would support any record they released on me to theNth degree.The answer. Take the original deal or leave it.
To make things worse Around this same time my employer was deciding to do some lay offs. I wasn’t really worried about it because I knew I was an employee in good standing. Or so I thought. I came into work one morning and one of my co-workers asked me, “are you going on vacation”? I looked at him and said, “no’. He gave me a look that let me know something was up. And it was. As I got to my desk I was greeted by very nice young lady who said, ” Hi Will I am suppose to learn your job”. I said, “wait here for just a moment”. I went into my supervisor’s office and asked the following: “What the hell is going on? Who is this person at my desk and what am I training her to do”? Her response. ” We are phasing out your position”. I immediately knew what that meant. i responded. “Great what am I going to do next”? Makes me laugh till this day because she had so hoped I would just get/accept that I was being laid off. The look on her face was priceless. She then said, “we are going to have to lay you off”. I asked Why? She said, ” This is so hard because you are such a great worker and everyone loves you but you don’t really need this job and the others do”.
And there it was. All my years of being a model employee, telling the truth when I was going to do something else, and thinking it would make a difference had all come back to slap me in the face. I quickly realized in that moment that job security was a lie. I had already been shown that the music business was a crap shoot filled with no loyalty and no regard for talent. It was all about who they could use and manipulate. Now the corporate world was handing me their very own version of We give no F*cks LOL.
I knew in that moment that I had to build something of my own that gave me the freedom and most importantly control of my life. I had no idea what it was but I knew it had to be done by any means necesary.
After I got laid off. I called my Mom and told her what happened. By this time my father had passed away. I was expecting her to say, you better go and find yourself another job. Instead she said, “Well I guess you’d better start singing full time”. I hadn’t even realized that I was I was making more money singing than I was on my job. In my mind I had to have a “real Job”. That moment ignited the flames of trying to learn how to do what I loved for the rest of my life and make my money make money.
Enter real estate!!! After I had been working a few years as pro singer I realized that I needed to find ways to keep from paying all of my money to the government in income taxes. I was doing a session one day and heard some singers talking about buying a home. My Dad always taught me to listen more than you talk so i kept listening as much as I could without being obvious. But i went home that night and starting trying to figure out how to buy a home.
Well the day finally came. I secured another record deal on a major label with star Producer David Foster. We recorded the record I wrote a good portion of the songs on the record, I had the promise of a nice publishing deal on the table, and we were getting ready for release. Then I got the call!!!, “Will Can you guys come in for a meeting”. We went to the meeting to learn that we were being dropped from the label. This day holds a very special memory because I was also closing on my first home on this very same day!!!! While were were in the meeting I kept seeing a vision of me pulling into the garage and the door closing just before I could get the nose of my car in. LOL. Fortunately, this time wasn’t as devastating. Because I continued doing my behind the scenes gigs I listerally went into the studio that night and was offered a three month tour in Japan paying great money.
I vowed to myself that I would learn how to make my money work so that i could not have to worry about having a gig.
I continued doing my singing gigs and writing for other artist. One day I took one of my songs to a friends studio because he told me he was producing a female artist who was white but sounded like a sister. I said, Okay I might just have something. I had been doing some music colabs with rapper Young MC whom I had done some demos for. We got together one day and wrote a song one day entitled Not that Kind. This was the demo I brought along with me to the meeting. The producer Oji Piece who had just had a hit with Montel Jordan entitled This is How We Do it Heard the song and loved it. He played it for his artist a young girl named Anastacia and she loved it. About a year or so later Anastacia sang the song on a show produced/created by Lisa Left Eye Lopez of TLC, Called the Cut. The head of Sony Music Tommy Mattola, saw the show and heard the song and singed Anastacia to a recording deal immediately.
With the success of the ANastacia came a lot of cool opportunties and wonderful things.Also, around the same time my mother passed away. It was a bitter sweet time to say the least.
The death of my mother really forced me to start looking at life from a different perspective. As an only child there were no siblings to help me through the grieving process. I thrust myself into work and investing because that was all I knew to do. I would sing 6-10 days a month and buy houses to fix up and rent or fix up and sell. That was my life. I began to get really good at it. Somewhere in the process I read the book Rich Dad Poor Dad and it was life changing. It was another reminder of the importance of being a business owner and of course controlling my own destiny.
Things went very well until the year 2008 when the real estate market crashed and basically destroyed our economy. Most of my investments were good but some of them were not. As a result I had to begin restructuring. It was painful and it was a lesson but I DO NOT regret it.
In 2008, I asked myself how do I sell real estate if I don’t own it. Light bulb! I can become an agent. Around that same time a very good friend of mine who was also my real esate broker said to me. “Why don’t you become an agent? You know more than most agents do anyway”? I laughed it off but as I thought about it it made since. I had already taken most of the courses some years earlier so all that was left was to finish a few more. I took my test in Early December of 2008 and received notification on 12/31/2008 that I passed. I was now a licensed Real estate Agent.
Over the next few years I worked for a few small brokers and in 2011 I went to work for Keller Williams. I realized I had done well as an investor but really needed to learn how to be an agent. Keller Williams taught me how to really build my real estate business. In 2015 after an unexpedted dispute with my broker over a deal I decided to become a broker myself. I realized that although I had become a very good agent top 10 in my office to be exact. I still looked at the business very differently. The corporate model frowns on investors. I could not stomach that mentality. I wanted to build a company that catered to investors, buyers, and sellers a like. So in April of 2016 I opened Will Wheaton Real Estate. Shortly thereafter I was burned very badly in a real estate deal by a clients lender. I quickly realized I never wanted todo that again. As a result I went to school to get my mortgage brokers license at the end of 2017. 1/1/2018 we started writing our own loans for our clients. In 2019 The mortgage company was officially opened and named Next Level Home Lending.
Today the brokerage caters to home sellers, home buyers, and investors both active and passive. We also work with Commerical real estate mostly residential with some business commercial thrown in. We have 7agents and 4 mortgage lenders including myself. Our missions is to help people from all walks of life to live their best lives through real estate investing.
I am still active in the music business as well. I work on movies, records and television. Most recently I was called to lend my voice to The new Lion King and Bad Boys For Life. Also, I have a platorm for indie artist called the indie lounge which was co founded with a super talented artist Ms. Bridgettte Bryant. Bridigette Bryant and I had a number 1 record in the UK entitled How do You Do as well. There are plans under way to take the indie platform to the next level and do some great work with other indie aritst both known and unknown.
It’s rewarding now to get to work help artist creatives and people from all walks of life to buy homes and invest in real estate. Its almost full circle. #grateful
The businesses are growing and I am loving watching it all happen in real time. #thankful.
Selling Los Angeles One Note At A Time.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Will Wheaton Real Estate is an independently owned Brokerage that specializes in real estate acquisition, sales, investment, and finance. Simply put we buy houses, we list houses , we sell houses, and we finance houses. So coming to us is almost like a one stop shop. We have a 5 step process to help our clients achieve the goal of home ownership. Clients start out getting their loan approval
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Phillips BBQ, Stevies On Pico, Any show that Bridgette Bryant is Doing, Ronee Martin Performance. Herb Albert’s Vibrato Club
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Keller Williams, Robert Davis Realty, David Foster, First Interstate bank now Wells FArgo, Dic Clark Productions,Marvin Young Mc, Anastacia, Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Poor Dad.
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