A ‘developing’ story – freestyle football star shadows Samuel Leeds
World-beating football freestyler Liv Cooke spent three days shadowing Samuel Leeds to gain an insight into property developing from ‘the best in the business.’ Liv says she learnt more in a short space of time than she could ever have imagined. During her fact-finding mission she also survived a scary encounter with an aggressive sheep and witnessed the moment Samuel’s wife Amanda revealed the gender of their new baby.
Liv’s ‘hot property’ in football – and ‘on the ball’ in property too!
Liv Cooke is the UK’s first professional female football freestyler. She is a four-time world record holder and a former world champion. The 21-year-old is also well known on TV as the co-host of BBC’s prime time Match of The Day X programme and for her appearances on Football Focus.
In addition to her breath-taking football skills, the UEFA ambassador has a vast social media audience. She has attracted 72 million likes from her 4.5 million TikTok followers and has more than 700,000 followers on Instagram. Liv has also been a recipient of the Parliamentary Rising Star and Woman of the Future awards.
In 2018, Liv founded W1NFLUENCE, an international talent agency representing ‘global superstars, freestyle football world champions and ‘Cirque de Soleil’ performers.
But it is her growing passion for property that has seen her link up with Property Investors founder and chair, Samuel Leeds. She set up Liv Cooke Properties Ltd last year and already owns two investment properties.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to the cancellation of many of her freestyle events across the globe, but as ever she looked for the silver lining. Being stuck in the UK means she has more time to concentrate on property and she has taken full advantage.
And while Liv is undoubtedly hot property in the football world, she’s very much on the ball when it comes to property investing too. She secured her first deal when she was just 19 – a two-bed apartment in Buckshaw, close to where she grew up in Leyland, Lancashire.
“I was still living with my parents at the time and had been doing freestyle for about two years. I put down 25 per cent of the value as a deposit. It was a nightmare getting a mortgage on the rest. I eventually found one – but the terms were awful.
“It would horrify any investor to be honest, but I went for it as it was my only option. I’m now renting it out. I’m young and I don’t intend to sell any time soon, so it should still work out as a solid long term investment.”
Liv’s second investment was a one-bed apartment in Manchester. She bought it off-plan, but the lockdown resulted in construction being delayed. Again, she says it might not offer the fastest or biggest returns in the world, but she still expects it to pay dividends down the line.
“They were the right decisions at that time given my knowledge and the situation I was in then. I’ve learned a lot since then and I wouldn’t do the same now. I believe you should always be progressing and doing things differently to the crowd.
“US tycoon Warren Buffet says be fearful when everyone is greedy and be greedy when everyone is fearful. That’s why I’m now concentrating on commercial development early in my property journey.
“In the property world right now everyone thinks mainly of investing in things like domestic properties to rent out. But if everyone is thinking like that, I should be fearful at the moment. That’s why I’m thinking of development projects right now. It’s also a lot of fun!”
‘Samuel Leeds’ name just kept cropping up’
Liv credits Samuel Leeds as the man who has given her the fire to become a property developer.
“He stopped me from buying another off-plan property. His message was: don’t buy from the developer, BE the developer because the return will be better.”
Liv became hooked on Samuel’s prolific YouTube content and decided to interview him for her new property Instagram platform.
“One of the fastest ways of learning a new skill is to find the best person around and study the hell out of them. Samuel’s name just kept cropping up. I messaged him on Instagram, and we arranged a Zoom call. I was amazed by the rapid progress he has made, and I love his energy and videos.
“I think we have similar character traits – and we are both really out there on social media. He is definitely someone I can relate to.”
Samuel agreed to Liv’s interview request but suggested they keep the conversation focussed on property, rather than the negative media reports and online hate he has been subjected to.
It prompted Liv to investigate what had been said about him and she admits to almost pulling the plug on him as a result.
“She called me out on it,” Samuel recalls. “She said I’ve heard that you are a bit of a con artist who can’t even get any credit yourself. I asked her to look at the videos and blogs I had put out, telling my side of the story. That’s all I can do with anyone – ask them to look at both sides and then judge.”
Liv was soon back in touch, having weighed everything up, and was assured he was the real deal.
“I studied Samuel’s take on it all and it was enough for me. His response to Shaf Rasul was particularly powerful. He hit back by attacking the argument and it just knocked it all on the head for me. There has also been a lot of stuff about Lord Sugar saying he’d never given him business advice, but then Samuel produced proof showing he’d paid for it.
“I go mainly on instinct when I get to know someone, but I also looked more deeply into all the hate and saw that it had clearly got out of hand. After spending three days shadowing him I know my gut feeling was correct. I’ve learnt so much.”
Liv also says that having a massive online audience herself has made her realise that there will always be haters – no matter who you are and what you do.
“The bigger your following, the more abuse you will get,” she points out.
“Sometimes it can be for pretty random reasons. Maybe someone hates you because you’re an extrovert and they once had a bad experience with someone like that.
“I get a lot of hate myself. It comes from the size of the following, but I’m well aware that many individuals will generate hate regardless. It’s not nice, but at least it means you are putting yourself out there. If people are going out of their way to hate on you, at least it shows you must have a big profile.”
Samuel agrees: “I know I can be a bit of a loud character and I guess that makes me a Marmite man. My haters really do hate me with a passion, but fortunately my fans seem to really love me. So I guess it balances out and anyway I only want to work with people who like Marmite! I’ve got big energy and that can mean big results. I want that to rub off on my students.
“All I can do is say to people look at the material I put out there and judge me on the quality of it. Then judge me on how I come across to you personally. If it’s two big ticks we’re going to work very well together, and you’ll learn a lot. If it’s two crosses, then maybe look elsewhere.
“If your objection to me is purely connected with negative things you might have read about me, I would urge you to look at both sides of the story – not just at what the haters are saying – before you make your mind up. I’ve answered my critics. As long as you do your research, I will respect your opinion of me, good or bad.
“I’ve got nothing to hide. I’ve been doing what I’m doing for more than a decade now and have chartered my journey openly in hundreds of videos. I’ve even invited media organisations, such as the BBC, to come and film my advanced training courses and see how people benefit. I’d be happy for them to accompany me on my financial freedom challenges too. It would prove that what I teach works.”
Following Samuel’s appearance on Liv’s channel, the pair had several conversations about the merits of development projects.
Liv jumped at the chance of shadowing him for three full days to learn more about what it involves.
Liv sits in on a crucial meeting at Ribbesford House
Visiting Samuel’s castle, Ribbesford House, one of his multiple development projects, was the highlight of her first day with him.
He had an important meeting lined up with local planners, conservation officers and representatives from English Heritage and invited Liv to sit in on it.
The open air meeting was held on a beautiful late summer’s morning immediately outside the grand entrance to the historic house, near Bewdley in Worcestershire.
Samuel wanted to explore the possibility of gaining planning permission for additional houses on the land which would boost the GDV (gross development value) of the historic estate.
The Covid outbreak has been a real problem for the business with cancelled training events affecting cash flow. It has also delayed work on various development projects including Ribbesford.
Samuel, however, says there has been one advantage in that certain planning rules have been relaxed.
“We feel very encouraged now about our chances of gaining planning consent for more houses on the site. If we get the green light there is the potential to increase the GDV by £2m-£3m.”
In her own words, Liv remained ‘a fly on the wall’ throughout the talks for fear of jeopardising his position in any way.
“It was amazing to witness a meeting like this. The difference between a successful or unsuccessful outcome can mean millions of pounds, so I kept quiet. I did have to check myself at one point, though, when I noticed a spider crawling up one guy’s neck. I was freaking out, but I felt I shouldn’t react!”
During her second day shadowing Samuel, the action switched to London. The morning started at 8am with a video call from one of Samuel’s most successful students who wanted to pitch an investment opportunity to him. Afterwards Liv took her seat at a Property Investors Academy training event at Heathrow, with a small, socially distanced audience.
“I was very, very impressed by his teaching skills. It’s one thing having the knowledge, but quite another to captivate an audience like he does. He is an enthusiastic, very clever and exceptionally talented guy with huge energy.”
It’s a girl! Liv witnesses a milestone moment in Samuel’s life
After being introduced to several key members of Samuel’s management team, Liv was privileged to be in on a massive personal moment of his life – the gender reveal of his new baby. They met up with Samuel’s wife, Amanda, who after a few moments keeping them in suspense delivered the big news that their third child would be… a girl and that they would call her Jessica.
Barely pausing for breath, Samuel and his ‘celebrity shadow’ were soon back on the road to assess the potential of a couple more developments.
Then it was off for a meeting at his brother’s impressive new home in London. Russell Leeds is chief executive of Property Investors and although Liv had not met him before, she had read and enjoyed his book, The Entrepreneur’s Blueprint.
After the meeting, she grabbed her trademark black hat and set off to visit Samuel’s house in leafy Beaconsfield. Samuel had told her that it was time to chill with a drink and the family in his hot tub. Liv had another description for it. “Hot tub – it’s more like a swimming pool! Every hour I spend with him, I find even more motivation to get into property. His hot tub is so big you could get lost in it!”
Liv is a self-confessed car junkie and makes no secret of what she would do with the profits from a few successful property developments.
“My old dream was to buy a white BMW i8 and I’ve achieved that one. My next target is a white Lamborghini. I love fancy cars and they do make me happy. I work incredibly hard and if I want a fancy car, I just think why not!”
The second day ended with the freestyle star watching Samuel take part in one his regular online Q&A sessions.
Liv shows a pair of clean heels to a furious sheep!
On the final day, Liv found herself in home territory. They went to Manchester where Liv has a city centre apartment. Samuel wanted to run the rule over more land/building opportunities before meeting up with his first ever student, Jael Spooner.
The 31-year-old, who once depended on benefits, has completed a remarkable rags-to-riches journey. She is a one-time model and waitress, who has gone from living in a string of hostels to taking on a London club with a staff of 20 and a £1m annual turnover.
Jael says the seeds of her success were sown six years ago when she decided to learn the art of property investing. In 2014, Jael had the distinction of being the first student to enrol on Samuel Leeds’ Property Investors Crash Course.
She was so inspired by his story and teachings, she went on to buy her council flat in London and raised £250,000 with her partner to fund her nightclub venture. Tunnel London is now widely regarded as the best Afrobeat venue in the UK.
Today Jael’s income is also boosted by her property dealings, and she took the pair to see a couple of possible developments she is keeping close tabs on. One was a large barn complex in the countryside near Halifax, previously used to house chickens and various other animals.
Inside the derelict barn, the owner imparted some shocking information: “You’re standing on a 3ft-deep carpet of shite!” An even bigger shock was soon to follow when the party trooped outside and found themselves under attack from a highly aggressive sheep. After nearly flooring Jael with a violent headbutt, the sheep moved menacingly in the direction of Samuel who managed to get to safety. Liv had spotted the danger early and raced out of the danger zone!
Liv’s take on shadowing Samuel
“There is not much material out there on property developing, so you can’t put a price tag on shadowing someone who is leading in the industry. My passion for property is massive – as big as it is for freestyling!
“The three days taught me just how much there is to know. I was learning something new every hour. It is not just about what you know, but people skills too. I have learned a heck of a lot but have a ton of stuff still to learn.
“I know I can grow so much with Samuel as my mentor. I’m the sort of person who wants to know everything and be the best. I’m an all-or-nothing person and I love property.
“I know what it takes to be the best in the world at something. I have no doubt at all that I will become a successful property developer and be involved in a massive project one day. “I’m not a worrier and I will take risks, particularly if the success is down to me and the effort I am prepared to put in.
“My journey as a property developer so far really mirrors how I started off in the freestyle world. I went to an event in London where a girl called Laura Biondo was performing. I was blown away by her tricks. I later messaged her and asked for a chat. She gave me great advice and I followed it to the letter. I was only fifteen at the time and we ended up chatting every week.
“Out of the blue she told me I was ready for a competition. I was terrified but I went on to qualify for the world championships. When I got there my first battle was with Laura herself and I won 3-0. So get ready to move over Samuel!”
Samuel believes Liv is destined for great things as a property investor
“I could sense her drive from the first moment. I think she’s going to be amazingly successful in property with or without my input. However, I know I could help her get there a hundred times faster.
“I read that she had set up a property company and I thought I want to be part of her journey. I could tell she was serious.
“Amanda and I were massive fans of hers well before she reached out to me. If you haven’t seen her freestyle football skills jump on Google now and you’ll find your chin hanging somewhere around your ankles. She is that good and with her drive and thirst for knowledge she’s going to smash it as a developer. You heard it here first!”
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