In the sprawling landscape of New York City, where dreams are often overshadowed by towering skyscrapers, there emerges a remarkable tale of perseverance, determination, and the resounding belief that one's origins need not determine their destiny. Meet Kenny Lam, the CEO and founding partner of Blue Ocean Property Group, whose life story embodies the quintessential rags-to-riches narrative that continues to inspire us all.
Kenny's journey to success was not a path paved with privilege and silver spoons. Born to first-generation immigrant parents, he understood from an early age that life's trajectory is shaped not by what one is given, but by the choices made along the way. For Kenny, life was never about reaching a destination; it was about embracing the journey itself, and he did so with unwavering enthusiasm.
With an unyielding spirit, Kenny embarked on a career in the lending business, initially as a telemarketer for a residential mortgage brokerage. This humble beginning was a far cry from the corner office of a corporate giant, but it was where his journey truly began. He believed in the power of hard work, and that belief would soon propel him to unimaginable heights. Years turned into decades, and Kenny's dedication bore fruit as he steadily climbed the ladder of success. From the confines of a modest loan brokerage situated on the fringes of the world's financial epicenter, he charted a remarkable course into the complex world of commercial finance. And, instead of traversing the well-trodden path of corporate conformity, he chose to carve his own way, driven by a desire to make his mark.
In 2017, Kenny took the boldest step of his career by co-founding Blue Ocean Property Group. It was a bold endeavor, but it was fueled by a determination to do things his way. The company swiftly became a beacon of excellence in investment sales, capital advisory, and property management, with Kenny at the helm. Kenny’s achievements, however, can be seen far beyond the world of finance. With almost two decades of experience in real estate finance, he has not only honed his expertise, but also shared it liberally. He has nurtured top-performing originators who consistently achieve annual loan production volumes ranging from $50 million to $100 million, a testament to his generosity. Moreover, Kenny has proven himself as a savvy real estate and private equity investor. Since 2017, he has been sourcing major value-add properties through his extensive network, revitalizing distressed assets into valuable gems. His most recent and noteworthy investments in private equity have been focused on the energy and aviation sectors. NANO Nuclear Energy Inc., an emerging microreactor technology company led by a world class nuclear engineering team developing smaller, cheaper, and safer advanced portable carbon free energy solutions utilizing proprietary novel reactor designs, and Flewber Global Inc., a private jet aviation company that has achieved an annual revenue exceeding $4 million. The company has redefined luxury air travel, offering passengers an escape from crowded airports and security lines, all without the exorbitant costs associated with legacy private aircraft.
Kenny's commitment to excellence extends well beyond his professional endeavors. He serves as the vice president and a board member of the Chinese American Real Estate Association (CAREA), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the well-being and professional image of Chinese Americans in the real estate field. This dedication to the community underscores his belief in giving back and uplifting others on their journeys to success.
In a world that often celebrates overnight success stories, Kenny Lam's journey stands as a testament to the enduring values of hard work, determination, and the unshakable belief that success is earned, not bestowed. From his beginnings as a telemarketer, the most rudimentary position in sales, he rose to become the CEO of a flourishing boutique advisory firm. Kenny's life story serves as an inspiration to all who dare to dream. It reminds us that, in the grand tapestry of life, it's not where you start that matters, but where your determination and ambition take you. Kenny Lam has shown us that if you have the courage to embrace the journey, you can indeed make it anywhere.
We spoke with Kenny to learn more about the choices he made and how they led him to where he is today.
Kenny, what prompted you to pursue a career in real estate finance?
While my acceptance was limited to the City University of New York (CUNY) Baruch College, several of my high school peers secured spots at top-tier universities. I never cared much for school, and since I wasn’t excelling in my college courses, I decided to leave. I told myself that if I could get a job in an office, that would be enough; I could work my way up from there. I was conscious of both my strengths and weaknesses, acknowledging that a top-tier analyst position at an investment bank wasn't within my reach. A friend from the mortgage industry extended a job offer to me in telemarketing. At the time, I believed that earning $50k annually through part-time work would suffice, but during the era of historically low interest rates, business was thriving and my income kept growing steadily. Fast forward 20 years, following a couple of cycles of economic ups and downs, I finally find myself in a good place, solidifying my belief that success is not measured by what you know, but rather by how you overcome challenges.
To what do you attribute your success?
My failures. You can’t succeed without making mistakes, and I think the biggest problem most people face is how to deal with that fact. They’re either afraid to make mistakes or if they do, they don’t take ownership of them. Oftentimes, it leads to giving up. I was always determined to succeed.
My mother is another reason for my success. She’s what they call in Chinese culture, a “Tiger Mom” and her favorite answer is “no.” From that experience, I became someone who doesn’t accept “no” for an answer.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Connecting with people. That’s it. This is a people business, and if you don’t enjoy connecting with people, this is not the field for you. Anyone can go for sales quotas. I only want to work with people I connect with and who connect with me. Working with people who appreciate my energy and personality is what I love about this job.
CEO and Founding Partner
Blue Ocean Property Group